DC, Consider Yourself Occupied

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘amreese13’

Since Occupy Wall Street has already inspired an Occupy Omaha and Occupy Ljlubljana, Slovenia, it should come as no surprise that a similar protest has arrived at the nation’s capital.

On Saturday, Occupy DC began its (potentially never-ending) takeover of McPherson Square.

Members hail from the District and, up until this past weekend, met mainly on the internet. Now they’re armed with a cross-street, social media and pizza slices.

With the exception of police disruption over a bomb scare and the need to move a meeting when Batala drummers began practicing in the park, the protestors have no intention of leaving – rain or shine, day or night. So if you work near McPherson Square, you may want to get used to these folks, as they could grace your daily commute until death does them part.

“We have no exit strategy,” says Micah Bales, who spoke through the cold rain on Saturday afternoon. “We hope this won’t take forever. We hope that a more just and democratic society might come about in this country before forever.”

As for a list of demands? They don’t have any yet. Demands require the consensus of the General Assembly – the group’s primary planning meeting. But Saturday’s activists individually listed the overturning of Citizens United and the forgiveness of student debt. They want their votes to count and believe the best way to make that happen is through limiting corporate power in the political process.

Photo courtesy of
‘2011 10 01 – 9623 – Washington DC – Occupy DC’
courtesy of ‘thisisbossi’

The protestors typically numbered in the dozens on their first day, with over a hundred attending the afternoon’s General Assembly. In between meetings, committee members set up recycling bags, made signs, and stood out on K Street calling on drivers to “honk if you have student loans.”

They got lots of honks. They also got hecklers calling out, “Get a job, hippies!” to which protestors replied, “We’re trying!”

Actually, the occupiers aren’t all otherwise unoccupied. Some of them work flexible part-time jobs that they’ll continue to hold as they camp out – perhaps from a nearby Starbucks. But others are unemployed or far too underemployed to pay off their student loans, which might explain why so many of the signs bemoan education debt.

Like most of the other Occupy protests, Occupy DC has a strong presence on Twitter. They hope for numbers to expand this week as the rush hour brings crowds back to McPherson.

So if you’re unhappy with the state of things, stop on by and join up with Occupy DC. Just make sure to bring a heavy coat, tell your boss you’re working “from home,” and line up a house-sitter for…well, forever.

Joanna moved to DC in 2010 knowing she’d love it, and as usual she was right. She enjoys eating fried things, drinking scotch and smoking cigars, and makes up for the damage done by snacking on organic oats and barley and walking long distances to wherever with her dog Henry. Joanna now lives with her husband and said dog in Los Angeles, and they all miss DC terribly. Follow her on Twitter or contact her at joannacastlemiller.com.

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12 thoughts on “DC, Consider Yourself Occupied

  1. Just curious if any of them bitching about forgiving student loans took the opportunity in college to, well, study something useful? A skill that can be used to help rebuild our economy, perhaps. When you’re paying 40 or 50 G’s a year to go to GW or GU, you damn well better be learning something that’ll help you pay off that education…

  2. From their website:
    “Got delivery this morning from a local church (including a cake that said “Congratulations!”).
    Have an anonymous dedicated source of food.
    Temple Sinai will be donating food.”

    Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? There are quite enough people who really need help in this city without a bunch of kids who can’t find jobs mooching much needed services. (Note; I’m 24 and have student loans)

  3. The movement is gaining momentum in its THIRD week now and Occupations are popping up all over the country! Stand up together and use your voice to give to those without through peace and solidarity. Tax the rich and feed the poor- you are the 99%! See my Occupy Wall Street painting and Anonymous homage on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/occupywallstreet.html where you can also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for coverage of the movement.

  4. Spent the afternoon at Occupy Wall Street. Organized, peaceful and packed full of media coverage. So glad to see DC is joining the movement. Don’t quit, don’t give up. We can make a difference.

  5. so fantastic!! i saw yall marching on saturday and joined in — such a welcoming bunch. im so excited to be a part of this movement. join in, dc!! we cant afford to wait any longer

  6. People that say these are trust fund kids protesting for no reason don’t have a clue. 15 percent of the American public is unemployed. Even more are underemployed. What happened? The recession. What caused the recession? Greedy bankers who lost commissions from sales of stocks to companies like e-trade and scottrade had to figure out a new way to make money. So what did they do? They bundled up subprime mortgages into a financial product, got them rated by their for-profit buddies at Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch. They then sold them to other bankers who watched their value steadily rise during the housing boom. But when those loans, which were bundled up by the thousands, started to default in large numbers, banks who had already written them off as a “sure thing” profit margin started to realize they weren’t. In fact they were billions of dollars in the hole. So what did they do? Well Lehman Brothers simply collapsed, but others like Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Bear Stearns and AIG (who was insuring these loans like idiots) asked for government handouts. Or they were forced to be purchased by other companies at pennies on the dollar. Yet what happened to the employees at these companies? The CEOs that didn’t see it coming? The traders that bundled and sold shoddy mortgages? What about the mortgage company CEOs, like the guy who ran Countrywide—the now-defunct but previously largest loan generator in the country—THESE GUYS ARE STILL FILTHY RICH. That’s what the country doesn’t understand. While millions of Americans lose their homes, while students graduating from college can’t find jobs, while middle-class workers who have given the past 25 years to a company watch their 401ks shrink, while state and local workers see their pensions get decimated by politicians who can’t keep their cities and states solvent without slashing benefits, THESE GUYS ARE STILL RICH. If we don’t create a government entity to enforce rules, such as the Dodd-Frank Act, or the Consumer Protection Bureau, both of which have been fought by Republicans, this will all happen again. Bankers, financiers, bondsmen, and Executives at major corporations expect to be paid millions of dollars. It’s that attitude that needs to change. They used to deserve that kind of money when they invested in companies that made things. But today they make risky bets on things like subprime mortgages. They create markets on electricity and air (Enron). They bet against stocks and then profit when a company fails. This isn’t your grandfather’s institution, this is Las Vegas. If we keep acting like nothing is happening, if we allow wealthy people to continue to control the Republican message in our government, then the current state of our economy will continue to decline. Dismiss this movement at your own peril. Or support it and help the 99 percent.

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