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Oct-01-2011 20:04printcomments

Solidarity on the Brooklyn Bridge

“They’re very, very brave to stand there when those police are taking them away. They’re doing it for all of us.” -
Oregon dad who watched NY 'white shirt' cops arrest a teen girl

Wall Street protests
Image courtesy: Story by the Throat!

(ST. HELENS, Ore.) - I’m sitting in my farmhouse home in Warren, Oregon, and watching live feed of the Occupy Wall Street protesters facing off against police on the Brooklyn Bridge.

They’re crammed onto the bridge shoulder to shoulder, calling out slogans and standing peacefully, and the police are arresting them…one by one. One by one they’re cuffing the protesters and walking them over to a paddy wagon. Someone is filming all this from above, and I can see it all clearly.

There’s no struggle, just an endless parade of quiet, unresisting arrests, while the crowd chants “Let us move!” and “We’re fighting for your pensions!”

The citizen media crew call out to each detainee, Hey you, guy being arrested, what’s your name?” Some respond, some don’t, some can be heard clearly, some can’t. A man named Michael Burton takes his arrest calmly, his eyes seeming to meet mine as the camera zooms in, radiating quiet determination and strength. A young woman wearing an Invader Zim “GIR” hat, just a teenager by the look of her, is arrested, and someone shouts “How old is she, officer?” and “Oh, sure, arrest a child; see how THAT goes!”

My heart leaps. I realize that this is HAPPENING, this is REAL, and that this is more than a news item, or a political trend; these are human beings facing the forces of the mightiest government on earth, standing in solidarity and speaking truth to power. I realize I may, through the internet, be seeing the most important event I will witness in my life.

Niamh, not quite three years old, is watching cartoons and eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I suddenly realize that she needs to see this. This is one of the greatest things I could possibly share with her. When her show is over, I walk over to her with my laptop and show her the screen. She points at the video window and asks, “What’s that?”

“See all those people?” I say. “They’re all standing there on the bridge because they’re hungry, and they need food and jobs. And those police are taking them away, because…because the police are scared. But the people are just standing there because they love each other, and because they love you and me too.”

Niamh points to the protesters. “They’re not scared,” she declares.

“No, they’re not,” I reply, starting to tear up. “They’re very, very brave to stand there when those police are taking them away. They’re doing it for all of us.”

Niamh puts her little hand on the screen, and it just covers the video window. I feel as if she is actually touching those dear, courageous people. The tears are quietly flowing now.

“I love them,” I say.

“Yeah,” she replies.

A short while later, I put Niamh down for a nap. I sing her “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, one of her favorite lullabies. It seems appropriate. I return to the computer to write this. The Global Revolution livestream is silent, a black screen bearing the notice:

“fixing transmission – some of media team possibly arrested”

I gulp. Once again my heart goes out to those courageous souls. It’s chilling to think that the voice of the people might be silenced just like that. But then after a few moments the feed comes back in. A crowd, marching in the streets, is chanting:  ”We! Are! the 99 percent!” I feel honored to be connected to this, even from afar. I chant along with them, though quietly, so as not to wake the child in the next room. The chant alters as someone adds in a descant of  ”So are you!”

”We! Are! the 99 percent!

“So are you!”

“We! Are! the 99 percent!

“So are you!

“We! Are! the 99 percent!

“So are you!”

I feel so grateful, so proud. I’m infuriated at the arrests, but the calm, compassionate comportment of the protesters fills me with joy. The solidarity and love give me hope.

Niamh is sleeping right now. What she will think, what she will remember, who can tell? But it matters to me that was real with her, and was able to forge a connection between her and those beautiful people who are fighting for her. I cannot be in New York. There is an Occupy Portland protest planned for Thursday October 6. But this is our moving day, and I know I must be responsible to my family, though it breaks my heart not to march.

But as my daughter sleeps in the next room, I know at least that I have done this.



Originally published by Story by the Throat!

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Jack October 3, 2011 7:40 am (Pacific time)

I'm confused by the headline. Did the guy have a daughter who was arrested or not? Sounds to me like the headline was falsified to make this article more interesting.

Editor: That is how the story was initially described to us, it has been changed.... our apologies for this mistake.

Anonymous October 2, 2011 6:05 pm (Pacific time)

So basically you’re saying that we should just say “screw the the the Bill Of Rights! we need to overtax the rich so they won’t be able to expand their businesses and hire new employees” Great idea Einstein! And what makes you think that these elitists even want to invest in people’s “real needs,such as a better education and a better healthcare system?”The only reason our education and healthcare system are no longer the world’s best is because they’ve been purposely sabotaged by “special interests” as part of the plan to help bring down the Republic.Where did you get the idea that Federal Income Tax is used to give us “better roads?” Every time we fuel up at the pump we’re paying anywhere from 18-35 cents per gallon(depending on where you live)extra to the Government for the construction and maintaining of our public roads,but they’re not using those monies for their intended purposes anymore.Better regulations and foreign relationships? Don’t you thing the government has it’s hand in too many aspects of our lives as it is? You can’t even bu a pillow that doesn’t threaten you with violating the law for removing a tag,and as far as foreign relationships,don’t you think the rest of the world has more than enough of our jobs? or are you a proponent of 3rd world slavery as well?

Ryan DeGooyer October 2, 2011 12:03 pm (Pacific time)

This put me to tears... well written and powerful! We are the 99%

Douglas Benson October 2, 2011 8:40 am (Pacific time)

OCCUPY EVERYTHING ! The biggest problem with these arrests are that they just never file charges or drop them . We need an offense to go along with these civil actions . Lawyers thaty are willing to file charges both civil and criminal against the government officials and officers for deprivation of rights. Peace

Susan Hathaway October 2, 2011 4:52 am (Pacific time)

I was with those who marched in the rain to the Brooklyn Bridge today...a mom with three grown sons who has been trying to "speak truth to power" since the 60's. For the past two weeks, the young protesters have been peaceful, the police have been intimidating, and yet, to my dismay, the "older" people have been missing in action. Would there be so many arrests if parents were demonstrating along with these students? Weren't we all screwed by the rigged system that has brought our country to the brink of destruction and threatens to steal the future of all our children? From my heart to yours, I thank you for what you've written...and for restoring my faith that there are other parents who feel as I do. You may not be able to join us in NYC, but I will share your solidarity with those who are Occupying Wall Street.

M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. October 1, 2011 10:45 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you so much for this. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we support these wonderful, brave, young people who are very much presenting their lives in witness for all of our lives. Many of us who wish to be on the front line of this vital occupation... and all of the many presently in the works.. may not be able to do so because of obligations that cannot be ignored. We can, however, donate in whatever way possible for us and we can spread the word, give them written and verbal support, organize supports, and brainstorm on how we, as a nation, are going to put an end to the gross injustice dealt to us by the greediest human beings on this planet. Please do whatever you can and be mindful that the occupation of DC begins in just a matter of days. WE WILL SHUT DOWN THIS GOVERNMENT UNTIL THEY RESPOND TO OUR VOICES!!

Lauren October 1, 2011 9:00 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for sharing your experience. I also live in Oregon and am 26 years old. I also watched the live feed and started to cry. I greatly respect those people in the march as they reflect the feelings that i have been feeling in life.

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