Civic Conscience or Carnival? Occupy Wall Street — Occupy LA

Can you hear them now? 

Have you heard about Occupy Wall Street? Most media are choosing not to report the now 2 week-long protest at the heart of NYC’s financial district. Because I am currently in Los Angeles, I did not hear anything about the protest until the incident of police brutality last Saturday. Today, NYPD arrested over 700 protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, which explains why the New York Times finally put it as one of its cover page stories.

Asides from the possibility of an imposed/agreed-upon media blackout, this protest raises interesting questions. Does Occupy Wall Street elicit disdain because of its young/un-centralized/spectacle aesthetic? Does it provoke the American people to re-evaluate the origins of the financial crisis? What exactly do people need to respect a movement and get behind it?

It’s interesting what Professor Michael Kazin of Georgetown University said in the NYTimes article. The progressives of the past didn’t just demand change from the system: they made their own political groups so that they could change things. The Green Party, women’s groups, unions, an anti-authoritarian press… I look at my generation today and I wonder what we are going to do with our liberal arts degrees and civic conscience. Lots of people want to work in NGOs, Peace Corps, Teach for America… I think we need more people who want to work in politics. Who want to organize political parties. Who want to start new magazines or news companies. We can’t protest forever against the society that we’re in. We have to re-make it.

That being said, I’m going to the more artsy Los Angeles version of Occupy Wall Street tomorrow: the Trespass Parade. Artists and community activists have planned the 25 block parade in Downtown LA and it culminates in a reception at the Museum of Contemporary Art. My two interests intertwined – art and activism – and I don’t think I’ll get arrested or have to chant “the whole world is watching” nor “we are the 99 percent” : perfect.

Have a happy weekend fighting the Man, Indie Volunteers!

 

— Edit —

I have to admit, Occupy ___ is both civic conscience AND a carnival, and by that I mean that the protest has meaning but it is also a lot of fun. I paraded with them down Broadway, and here are the photos.

 

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