Monday, October 3, 2011

Jersey City Supporting Occupy Wall Street

Momentum for Occupy Wall Street may be growing slowly but it is clearly, undoubtedly, growing.

Laura Dejean, a co-founder and regular vendor and organizer of Creative Grove, our fair city’s Friday Art Mart & Flea Market has set up a supply donation station where residents can contribute to support the demonstrators of Occupy Wall Street. Not dollar amounts; I don't think she is accepting monetary contributions, but stuff that will help them hold out for economic justice: bottled water, non-perishable food, hand warmers, rain gear, batteries.

“I’ll be taking contributions every Friday and driving them to the park Saturday morning,” she said.

“For how long?”

“For as long as they’re there.”

She wore a painted green mask this Friday. She paints faces at Creative Grove and other events. She’s why so many children at our fairs look like cast members of CATS.

I brought some packages of batteries I had hanging around, went to one of the Dollar Stores on Newark, got some ponchos, sterno cans and Ramadan Noodles. Only a few bucks, and I’ll probably do it again next week. It’s an important cause; the historical moment we now face as Americans is a critical one.

I thought of the old labor folk song, one more day, a famous strike anthem popular during the halcyon days of the union movement, then forever memorialized by folk music devotees, is about solidarity and strength, imploring fellow workers to last one day long, until you receive justice.

On Saturday, the police arrested 500 – 700, depending on whose accounts, under dubious circumstances, they were marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. The fact these demonstrators are not going away, that they commanding the symbols – protesting in the heart of our skewed Economic System, Wall Street – is beginning to unnerve the social order. We’re waking up to the realization that in large part, that current social order, is one of suppression. May not be as clear cut as the 60s; you don’t have a draft card to burn. Instead, you have suffocating debt, no job prospects beyond minimum wage or barely above minimum wage service employment which has also become as scarce as professional, middle class wage earning careers.

A few bucks at the dollar store to keep this thing going?

Jersey City is one of the last bastions of unionism in the land that I love best, my country. Municipal workers, cops and firemen, teachers, hospital employees, our supermarkets, the construction workers… unions are not just part the fabric, they are the fabric of our fair city. I would argue the pro-union ethos is one of the things that makes Jersey City a great place to live. No one can get elected here without union support. The artists have made the first step towards city-wide support for Occupy Wall Street. Wither thou goest, Union members? We need to hear the voice of labor! Imagine if they just bring a fraction of the energy and determination union leaders show during contract negotiations – or during the public comment portion of Council Meetings – to a show of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.
Reminds me of another famous Labor song supporting striking workers and their right to organize unions – Which Side Are You on?

1 comment: