Diary

Another journalist "admires" the OWS movement

Check out this article from The Ballston Journal, which is a small local newspaper in Upstate New York. Note this was not a news article; the author has a blog called “The Village Voice” and this was his last post.  I can’t figure out if he is technically a reporter – the bio on the newspaper website names him as a Special Features reporter but his blog definitely is an opinion column.

This a small-town reporter for a small-town newspaper. But WOW – he clearly represents and illustrates the typical left-wing roots and attitudes that shape media coverage all over our country.

I wonder if he wrote a similarly complimentary piece back when the Tea Party demonstrations were going on?

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Protester Flashback
BY SAM CAPUANO
[email protected]

Some of my first memories from a social movement standpoint were the Vietnam War-era protesters. While I was too young to know what was fully happening, I knew there was a war that had gone on forever, and I knew many people were not happy about it, and they made themselves heard. And we had “All In The Family” every Saturday night showing us the younger protesters (Gloria and The Meathead) at constant odds with the older folks who didn’t quite understand them (Archie Bunker.)

These types of protests have mostly vanished from this country about the same time the war ended, and the military draft was done away with. I always felt it was the confluence of these two which gave those protesters the motivation for their actions. Because, although there has been plenty of military action since then, the protests have not been as strong, or as organized.

Until now.

As the Occupy Wall Street movement began a month or so ago in Manhattan’s financial district, I watched with interest and amazement as it grew stronger each day. Then it started spreading all over, to Oakland, and capital cities such as Washington, Providence, Austin and even Albany. About 70 major cities have seen some of the action.

The goals for those who say, “We are the 99 percent,” are to bring out the ongoing financial crisis. And to note the middle class is slowly going away.

Last week, I spoke to some Ballston Spa locals to get their thoughts of the Occupy movement. One gentleman spoke very passionately about it. He was around and active during the Vietnam-era protests.

“This was what we did; this was how we made ourselves heard,” he told me.

He had just recently taken his grandson to some of the protests in Washington. As we ended our conversation, he reached into his pocket and gave me a pin with a peace sign on it.

The few younger folks I asked were not as informed about the movement, and clearly not as passionate. I asked them about their financial situation, and neither was living large. Based on this, I asked them if they would consider joining the movement, and they basically just shrugged. To tell you the truth, I am not sure one of them had even heard of Occupy Wall Street.

These local conversations got me to thinking about how the protests from back in the day differ from those now. One difference is courtesy of the Doonesbury comic strip, which as always has its finger on the pulse of this country. Back in the late 1960′s, “Megaphone” Mark Slackmeyer was there, and earned his nickname by bellowing loudly into the megaphone at the war protests as the leader of many protests.

In a strip last week, Megaphone and his hippie contemporaries were gently made fun of, as being in it more for themselves. The 99′ers were also made fun of in one of the strips; they have no goals it was said, except to have no leaders.

Then there is the difference, for the most part, as to how the current protesters are being handled by the police. The police in the late 60′s/early 70′s had no use for the hippies, highlighted by the tragedy at Kent State, in which four students were killed by the Ohio National Guard. To avoid repeat occurrences, most politicians and police chiefs seem to be much more measured in their responses this time. Locally, in regards to Occupy Albany, the Albany 11 p.m. curfew is being ignored by both the demonstrators and cops. Governor Cuomo doesn’t really seem to know what he wants to do with the cohort.

Things may be slowly changing, however. Recently, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen was somehow critically injured in a scrum between the Oakland Police Department and the protesters. Things are also getting a more dicey in Providence and Austin.

I have admired their cause, and how they are expressing themselves. More to follow, I’m sure.