The Occupy Movement’s strength is the power of the unambiguous demand to end the corruption of politics by money.
There may be few parallels in U.S. history to the occupy movement that has spread to hundreds of cities and towns in the last two months, but the causes are a familiar story: a gilded elite who monopolize power and wealth against a public who feel they have no say in the system and no control over their lives.
This divide is encapsulated by the “There is tremendous suffering” refrain I have heard at occupations from New York to New Orleans and Washington, D.C. toDetroit.
Does the economic justice movement include the chronically poor? How can it not?
Two protesters who identify themselves as homeless, at Occupy Providence in downtown Providence, R.I. (Credit: Stew Milne/AP)
Topics:Occupy Wall Street, homelessness
Tevin Bell is 18 but looks twice his age. Kicked out of his grandmother’s home last year after getting into a fight with his younger sister, Bell has been living on the streets of Detroit, “going from shelter to shelter.” On a brisk October afternoon he is relaxing in a folding chair, snug under a heavy jacket, watching flames lick the lip of a rusted barrel stuffed with burning scrap wood.
He is one of dozens of apparently homeless people clustered around Grand Circus Park, site of Occupy Detroit, which began on Oct. 14. Bell arrived two weeks later and has just spent his first night camping. He says, “I got a tent and a blanket. They said I can stay, ‘but you can’t just camp, you gotta help out.’”
In three deindustrialized cities, protesters find friendly cops, determination and despair
The surefire method to find occupations in small cities is to head for the center of town. After leaving Philadelphia on our Occupy America tour, we drive an hour north to Allentown. Pennsylvania’s third-largest city at 118,000 residents, Allentown has been weathered by years of deindustrialization in the steel, cement and textile industries that once made it an economic powerhouse.
Along MacArthur Boulevard, one of Allentown’s main drags, tidy but weary brick row homes line outlying neighborhoods. Close to Center Square, site of the requisite Civil War monument, the neighborhoods are heavily Latino and buildings exhibit signs of disrepair.