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  December 27, 2011

Voices From the Occupy Movement

Across the country, the Occupy Movement is developing new forms of exposing the 1%
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OSCAR LEON: My name is Oscar Leon. I'm a South American reporter and documentary filmmaker. I have been around the country as a correspondent for teleSUR covering the Occupy movement, experiencing the struggle of the occupiers in many cities, listening to what they have to say. Here are some of their voices.

DWAYNE, ARMY VETERAN, AGE 51: It's a shame when you think that a guy could survive a war in Afghanistan and come back to America and get shot. Well, we often hear about the military-industrial complex, and they're warmongers, and they create incidents like the weapons of mass destruction. If you look at the profits of Halliburton, they're the only ones not really hurting. But the millions of people, you know, in this country are hurting.

EVA, STUDENT, AGE 26: --seems like in the rest of the world, governments are afraid of the people. And so when people go out and they mobilize and they protest, it effects change within the government. And that doesn't seem to happen in this country at all, and it seems more like the people are afraid of the government in this country and they don't want to dissent. And, in fact, it's--people who do dissent are sometimes, you know, criticized by other citizens in this country for disagreeing with the government, and I think that's completely crazy.

ALEX, MUSIC JOURNALIST, AGE 29: It's just about time that we started fighting back is what it comes down to. You know, this is--working people have been taking it on the chin in the United States for 30 years, and especially over the past three years, since the great panic of '08. And for the longest time we've told that the only real fight-back in this country, if you want to fight in one way or another, then you have two options. Well, you vote for Obama, or you join the Tea Party. And to me, neither of those are viable options. To me, it's about time that our side, working people, the students who are coming out of college saddled with debt who can't find a job, people who are being thrown into debt by simple need for health care or education, it's time that our side fought back.

PETER RESSLER, WS FORMER INSIDER & AUTHOR, AGE 47: --that I've known for 30 years from all the major firms. You know, the thing about Occupy Wall Street, I think what Occupy Wall Street is really saying is the system's out of balance, democracy has sort of been forgotten about, and the majority of people that have been affected by this crisis blame Wall Street. And, you know, it's not just Wall Street. Wall Street is--operates in a certain model.

SGT. SHAMAR THOMAS, IRAQ WAR VETERAN, AGE 24: This is not a war zone. These are unarmed people. It doesn't make you tough to hurt these people. It doesn't make you tough to hurt these people. It doesn't. I don't care about these people. I put in my work. It doesn't lie. It does not make you tough to hurt these people.


THOMAS: I spent 14 months in Iraq. My whole family served, from my mother, my stepfather, my grandfather, my great-grandfather. We've all served this country and we all fought for freedom. And everybody says, you know, we're fighting to protect our way of life over here. Then you come home, and this is our way of life, this police state that we have. And so, as a veteran, somebody who fought in Iraq, saw my friends die in Iraq, to come home and let the people that they fought to protect and died to protect, you know, get beat on and not be able to express their rights, you know, is--it goes against what I believe in. You know, I've got to be a part of it. I can't sit on the couch and be a coward. You know?

JAMES, IRAQ WAR VETERAN, AGE 28: Something that's been a problem for a long time, which is the excessive use of police on protesters, on peaceful protesters. Obviously, it's wrong for anybody to be injured in that manner. The fact that it was a U.S. veteran standing up for the First Amendment rights speaks volumes about the direction this country has gone.

LUKE RUDOWSKY, REPORTER, AGE 25: It's been insane. You see the full apparatus of the police state trying to squash us, using fake excuses to get rid of this. I mean, they say it was unclean and it was unsafe. So why the hell did the NYPD bring thugs down here to beat up, kick, baton, and punch peaceful, nonviolent people who are trying to make a difference in this world? [snip] that it is so significant to have the tents out here, not only because--. Regular protests don't matter. Protests where you just march around and show signs, they don't matter. But coming together from all different political ideologies, whether it's from the left or right, and coming together and seeing the problem and trying to work this out, feeding each other, clothing each other, sleeping next to each other, that's what's important. That's the key. That's what separates us than any other protest is being there for each other. And just being the change that we want to see in this world, exemplifying that, that's what this is.

LISA, STUDENT, AGE 23: There was a man standing right next to me yelling, "Shame, shame," on the sidewalk, not doing anything disorderly. A cop tackles him and tries to arrest him. Me and his girlfriend, who was also there next to him, tried to un-arrest him, and we all got involved in a brawl of sorts. People fell on top of us and an officer kicked me in the side of the head. He stomped on the guy's girlfriend. Her knees are completely scratched up. She was thrown into the wall. And the guy was arrested.

TOM HILLGARDNER, ATTORNEY, AGE 53: I have met some very smart young people down here who really know what's going on, who really know how to organize. This did not become a worldwide movement because there were a couple of people living in their mother's basement smoking dope. This became a worldwide movement because there were some smart young people who knew what's going on, who knew how to organize, and they took it and spoke truth to power. And that resonated with people all over the country.


JIM, AGE 27: I mean, you arrest one person, and two people will fill their spot, because I know if I were to get arrested, it would mobilize more people around me to come out. And that's what all these people getting arrested, the 200 people a day getting arrested so far, that's all that's going to happen. Nobody's going anywhere. If anything, it's just more spread out and chaotic now. Now there's no central place to where people are going to go. People are going to be at Foley Square, here, everywhere.

NATALIA: Wall Street.

JIM: Wall Street.

NATALIA: City Hall, demanding the resignation of Bloomberg.

JIM: Busting into banks randomly, setting up tents.

NATALIA: Heisting in banks, starting to occupy banks.

JIM: Like, that's what it needs to be.

NATALIA: They just--you know, they actually did a really bad mistake by destroying this entire camp, because now what they've done is they've just, like, spurred us on and made us stronger. The movement was sort of getting a little stale, a little comfortable. Now there's literally going to be uprisings everywhere, and there's going to be more guerrilla tactic warfare that's used. And, honestly, I think it's the best thing that Bloomberg could've done. He just made himself look more like the monster. He just brought out more of the police state. And more people are going to support this now, because nobody wants to support--. Like, even people--even the rich people that supported Bloomberg before are now appalled at his actions, coming in at 2 a.m. to deliver an eviction notice with sound cannons and the police in riot gear. I'm sorry. Like, he just fucked himself.


LEON: Even though most of the occupation of parks and public spaces has been reduced for now, with actions like closing the ports, occupying Congress, and sporting the fight to end foreclosures, the Occupy movement is finding new forms for carrying on their fight to expose the 1 percent. For The Real News, this is Oscar Leon.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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