Occupy STL -- Voices from Kiener Plaza

Categories: Of the People
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Albert Samaha
Three weeks ago the Occupy Wall Street movement was a fringe spectacle, relegated to back page blurbs, obscure blogs and Keith Oldermann monologues. And now it leads network newscasts and makes the front page of the New York Times.
The man in the light blue button down is just on a quick smoke break. He's from southwest Missourah, in town for a meeting, soaking up a nice day in Kiener Plaza in the heart of downtown St. Louis and he's stumbled upon a square full of sleeping bags and Imo's boxes and pitched tents and people talking about union rights and corporate tax rates and democracy. He's observing the scene and looks confused.

"I don't know what they're trying to do," he says. "This is all strange to me."

Behind him is a large banner that says "Occupy STL." In front of him are thirty or forty people, young and middle-age, in worn jeans and loose t-shirts, huddled on the plaza's steps. A girl in all black is signing up people for various committees: donations, safety, health, food, outreach, etc.

The Occupy STL folks have occupied Kiener Plaza for nearly a week now and they're organizing themselves for the long haul. After all, according to Paul Joseph Poposky, one of the de facto leaders of the group, they'll be there "as long as it takes."

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Albert Samaha
"This is a worldwide movement for change," says Poposky (right). "Against institutional social and economic injustice.
It's a bold quest, considering that the people are seeking a fundamental shift in the way America functions. But, shit, three weeks ago, when the Occupy Wall Street movement kicked off, this whole thing was a fringe spectacle, relegated to back page blurbs, obscure blogs and Keith Oldermann monologues. And now it leads network newscasts and makes the front page of the New York Times. President Obama said that the movement is "giving voice to a more broad-based frustration as to how our financial system works." It seems every city with a professional sports team or a college campus features an "Occupy [insert name here]." Thousands of people are marching.

"This is a worldwide movement for change," says Poposky. "Against institutional social and economic injustice."

He admits this is a vague goal, which has been the primary criticism toward the movement. But, he adds, the vagueness is by-design, intended to leave room for a wide range of policy-based discourse, to allow people of various ideological ties to take part.

The movement has been framed as a left-wing counter to the Tea Party, an amalgamation of progressives and hippies and anarchists incited by the conservative wave. After all, the purveyors of partisan fodder have taken sides. Pundits on MSNBC have pretty much championed the cause, while those on Fox News have mocked the efforts.

But the people sitting around the Kiener Plaza steps resent the political categorization. One man says he is a conservative independent. Another calls himself a former Tea Partier. There is a woman wearing a rubber Obama mask. There is another woman wearing a Reagan mask.

The individuals are hesitant to claim a specific policy blueprint for the movement, wary of undermining the collective's scope of ideas. But consensus positions have emerged.

Carmalene Jackson, another of the group's de facto leaders, explains that they are pushing for a higher corporate tax rate. Furthermore, Occupy Wall Street gained added credibility this week as unions across the country proclaimed their support.

And there, standing a few feet back from the square, about a dozen members of St. Louis' Local 110, in orange or green or blue union hats and shirts and windbreakers, observe the scene. Thursday is their first appearance at Kiener Plaza.

"We believe in what they are fighting for," says Cil Sanchez, a construction worker. "For Washington and Wall Street not to be so greedy."

"I think it's going to get people energized," adds Brad Robertson, also a construction worker.

The night before, the Occupiers were kicked out of the plaza by St. Louis police. Ten people were arrested (for violating the park's curfew). The protesters, though, aren't simply professional activists with nothing else to do with their time. Some are unemployed and some have full-time obligations. There is a college student who spends the night in a sleeping bag in the plaza then hustles to class in the morning. There is a family man who spends a few hours there after work. There is a graveyard shift worker who takes a quick nap in the morning before heading over for a day of marching and chanting. People weave in and out, shuttling time between protesting and their daily lives.

After the committees are assigned, two women discuss the nuances of maintaining the make-shift camp. In the middle of the square, between tents and a couch blanketed by sleeping bags and pillows, there is a table filled with food-- potluck and donated. A couple of homeless people hang around, munching on chips and pizza. A port-a-potty stands at the top of the plaza's steps. The women agree that it need to be cleaned out soon. One of them goes to the center of the square and addresses the group.

"I need to know if everybody agrees to use donation money to clear the port-a-potty," she says.

A handful of people shout "Yeah!" Some raise their hands or nod. A quorum, it seems.

A few minutes later, the protesters gather their signs and march down the sidewalk toward the St. Louis Justice Center.

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28 comments
Mark1640
Mark1640

Some people rather live in a world where we don't take care of our poor, sick, elderly, babies...really?We need to cast out and turn our backs on the elderly, babies, sick and the poor!  Is that what the Bible says and is that what Jesus preaches...really?,  Or is this what the Republican what us to believe. There is only one way to correct all this, it is to cancel the tax cut for the rich. It works like this:So the government made all these promises, to pay old people social security, medicare, build roads, military to protect us, unemployment, etc, etc, you know the things that private businesses can't and don't want to do. Things were going just fine up until the Bush tax cuts, you know we had a surplus plus. Yes when the tax cuts came along things just got worse. The rich got richer, now it's time for the middle class and the poor to give up more. Why not go back to where we were,  before the tax cut and get things back on track, rather than cut back on the middle class.I will tell  why.Look what the stock market is doing now. John Boehner say it's not about the election it's about the economy, stupid. Well the fact is he's holding out to cut social security and medicare and other important programs. He also wants to keep the recession going up until after the election to sway it to the GOP. He wants to hold back our 401k's, pension,  people losing their jobs, home, life saving, health insurance and everything else so they can win some elections. We are being held hostage.No matter what, if we don't wake up, either way we are going to lose all those things and more. The middle class loses now and even loses bigger  later. There is only so much money to go around, it's like any other resource.  In order for the rich to get more it has to be taken from the middle class, more so than the poor because they don't have enough to take.Why don't we ever hear about cutting entitlements for the politicians?The politicians stole our Social Security and Medicare money to give tax breaks to the rich. The money was there, it should have been there, it would have been there, but they gave tax breaks to the rich and borrowed form Social Security to pay for rich people tax cuts.We forget that politicians have been borrowing money from Social Security to pay for other things. If it was a private pension plan there are laws to keep companies from stealing the pensioners money and wasting it elsewhere. Private pension money is protected by law. Now with Social Security it was used to pay for other things while the rich got tax cuts. Now they wasted our Social Security and Medicare money so the rich can have their tax cuts they want to take away what we all ready paid for our whole lives so the rich can continue to get their tax cuts. The politicians are going to put this whole problem on the backs of Seniors, Middle Class, and the Poor.  Actually Greece has the same problem we do, only worst, that is why they are in such deep trouble. There is so much corruption in Greece the rich get away not paying way more than the rich in the good old U.S.A. And if we keep up letting the rich get away paying such a small percentage in taxes we will be the same way. Every time I go to a meeting or hear a group of people complaining about people getting more entitlements and its usually tea party or Republican  people who have their entitlements but think all the other people should not get their own. The politicians are the same way, they get more entitlements than anyone but they never say a word about them. What a bunch of hypocrites. The Republicans preach and teach hate.Some people rather live in a world where we don't take care of our poor, sick, elderly, babies...really?We need to cast out and turn our backs on the elderly, babies, sick and the poor!  Is that what the Bible says and is that what Jesus preaches...really?,  Or is this what the Republican what us to believe.

Mark1640
Mark1640

way to go, I cheer you on.

inspirit
inspirit

I admire and respect the protesters out there.In reality they are representing the majority of us:  the unemployed, homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed, students with huge school loans facing job losses, the senior citizens with fixed incomes whose future social security income and medicare may be jeopardized, and the employed whose income remains the same while the prices of food and basic necessities have gone up due to inflation.I

Live_Free
Live_Free

People just aren't going to continue putting up with jewish supremacy! The discussion is closed. No one wants to be around jewish supremacists, no one wants them starting any more wars, no one wants them bankrupting nations, no one wants them creating famines or economic collapses - in short jewish supremacists days are numbered. jews are not the Master Race that they shout from the platform and they're not the World's Boss, they're certainly not my boss!

Kristie
Kristie

Stay strong protesters!  The movement is growing, thanks to YOU!  

Live_Free
Live_Free

Let's review what we know:

1. Jewish supremacy controls America2. Jewish supremacy has destroyed America3. Jewish supremacy must be marked for extinction

StokeyBob
StokeyBob

The root reason for the, “Occupy er’s” and the “99% er’s”. Gaze upon it if youdare. 

Maybe this will help make the danger of fiat money clear.

Imagine you and me are setting across from each other. We create enough money to represent all of the world's wealth. Each one of us has one SUPER Dollar in front of him.

You own half of everything and so do I.

I'm the government though. I get bribed into creating a Central Bank.

You're not doing what I want you to be doing so I print up myself eight more SUPER Dollars to manipulate you with.

All of a sudden your SUPER Dollar only represents one tenth of the wealth of the world!

That isn't the only thing though. You need to get busy and get to work because YOU'VE BEEN STIFFED with the bill for the money I PRINTED UP to get YOU TO DO what I WANTED.

That to me represents what has been happening to the economy, and us, and why so many of our occupations just can't keep up with the fake money presses.

BILLYDEVO
BILLYDEVO

How to you get thru life so clueless.You are one giant talking point .Republicans want everybody to die except rich people and other republicans .You act as if the democrats are just the purest people in the world.If congress controls the money who controlled congress for clinton .We had a surplus with clinto but why is that .Number one was welfare reform ,do you blame clinton for that .As for greece you again show your ignorance .http://www.taxrates.cc/html/greece-ta... take a look at this it might enlighten you .40% FOR ANYTHING OVER $75.000.

stev0205
stev0205

"What's that Mr. Goldstein? Oh sure, I'll get back to work."

DLee4144
DLee4144

Don't bother to hang around Kiener Plaza.  You won't be popular-- we like almost everyone, but in your case, we'll make an exception.

ColinSTL
ColinSTL

I still say that these anti-Semetic comments are being left by Frank "The Couch Potato" Weltner.  And maybe some of his followers.

Guest
Guest

How about you review what you think you know, and the rest of us point and laugh or just shake our heads sadly.

your mom's mom
your mom's mom

The posters who have infiltrated the RFT topics with this anti-semitism are not reflective of the protesters and in fact are right-wing plants on a mission to discredit the organic movement as narrow minded racists, which they definitely are not.  Ignore the fake anti-semitic propaganda and focus on the real mission.

sandra
sandra

This is hate speech and should be deleted.

Live_Free
Live_Free

jewish supremacy is the UGLY family secret Americans are forced to keep.

14freedom4u
14freedom4u

< this anti-semitism are not reflective of the protesters > Good try, but youtube has thousands of video's that reflect the anti-semitism and Jew hatred on display here. Why hide it? The democrats and far left have always been Jew haters. Remember, Nazi's in Germany were from the National Socalist Party. At least be honest and quit pointing your finger at the very people calling you out.

Live_Free
Live_Free

Americans will no longer tolerate the jews acting as if they are sacred cows and above all criticism. Give back America to Americans, NO MORE WARS for Israel

Live_Free
Live_Free

No, jewish supremacy is hate speech. Jewish supremacist tactics will not be tolerated anymore!

Guest
Guest

It's okay to be homosexual, Frank!

Guest
Guest

You are NOT a Palestinian, you are a jewish supremacist.

sandra
sandra

Hello, I am a Palestinian and I won't tolerate this antisemitism.  If you oppose U.S. foreign policy toward Israel, focus on that.  The actions of the government of Israel do not represent all Israelis and certainly do not represent all Jews.  This is unacceptable discourse;  it is hate speech.  

BILLYDEVO
BILLYDEVO

I love how you go by the name livE_ free then want to destroy anything you disagree with .

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