On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2011, I spent the day at what may be considered a highly-patriotic rally, or as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, “a whole bunch of people that are just disaffected.”
Yes, I spent the day at Occupy Wall Street.
Before you start calling me a dirty hippie and egging my house, you should understand that I was in New York City on college visits and traveled to—the now infamous—Zuccotti Park, out of pure curiosity.
However, I can easily say that the Occupy Wall Street protest was by far the most interesting part of my trip to New York.
From the moment I arrived, all of my preconceived notions were pushed aside by the bustle of the crowd. When shown on the news, Zuccotti Park appears to be a giant expanse of land filled with protesters. In reality, the park is no larger than our school gym. However, what the park lacked in size the protesters made up for in sheer volume. Never have I seen so many people packed into such a small space. Still, the protesters themselves were just a tiny portion of the crowd. From tourists and press, to street vendors and police officers, everyone was smashed into the square.
The protest itself was just like the throng: diverse.
Anyone who had a problem or a cause to be heard could be found in Zuccotti Park. As stated by one NYPD officer, “It’s a carnival of crazies, every single one of them.” Although he may have been slightly overreacting, there were definitely some “quirky” types to be found—I’m looking at you, man with the sign that read “Fluoride = Hitler.”
Despite the intermittent bongo solos and strong scent of Eau de Homeless man, Occupy Wall Street had an abundance of thoughtful points. Walter, a 24-year-old plumber, was protesting for better workers' compensation. After volunteering at ground zero, he suffers from PTSD and a debilitating autoimmune disease. He was denied workers' compensation two times and is now jobless.
Others were protesting Marcellus Shale drilling and passing out rocks with the witty phrase, “What the frack,” scrawled on them.
However, the protesters numerous messages are ultimately the downfall of the protests. At its core, the Occupy Wall Street movement is supposed to be against corruption in business and corporate greed. However, while at the protest, I saw people advocating everything from the legalization of marijuana to the freeing of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. While I find it inspiring that these people are standing up for what they believe in, perhaps if they all stood together they could have a much larger impact.
Though I support the protest as a whole, for now, I will be cheering on the protesters from the comfort of my home. While I don’t reside in a 1 percent mansion, I’m not quite ready to pack up and move into a tie-dyed tent.
Editor's Note: McKenzie Fritz is a Peters Township High School senior.