This post was written by Matthew Cain, one of several WFP staffers who went down to the labor and community march in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street after work today.
I just got back from the march. The energy was palpable before we even arrived at Foley Square. Taking the subway from the office, it seemed like everyone else in the car was headed to the march.
When we got to the square around 4pm, people were streaming in from all directions. Literally thousands of people. Across the square, several WFP field staff were standing on the steps. For some of the staffers, it was their first time at the square, but for many others they had already spent nights sleeping in the park. Even those who have been there for two weeks or more have not seen their spirits diminished – they’re every bit as committed as they were when they first showed up.
During the march, I talked to the people around us, to see what motivated them. There were a lot of students and recent college graduates, worried about loans and job prospects, but there were also climate activists, public health workers, and housing advocates (“Homeless shelters, not tax shelters!”). It’s clear that, while there is no one unifying demand, everyone was brought together out of a desire to see a more equitable society that treats all its members fairly.
Whenever I broke out of the stream to take pictures, it was obvious that it was a big group. A huge group. The street was packed in both directions, as far as I could see, with people holding signs and chanting: “We are the 99%!” “The people, united, will never be defeated!” “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” “How do you fix the deficit? End the wars and tax the rich!”
Intensely yet peacefully, we marched from Foley Square to Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street’s home base. The overflow crowd milled about as organizers prepared for the General Assembly, practicing their “people’s mic” – a process where everyone within earshot repeats what the speaker said to spread the word to the edges of the crowd.
As I left to head back to the office close to 8pm, marchers, undiminished, were still pouring into Zuccotti Park.