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Occupy Madison Closes Out Season With Small Crowd Determined To Be Heard

To the sounds of passing cars honking in support, protestors wave signs, make speeches and march on downtown to make their message heard. What is that message? This is what they said ...

 

The final outdoor rally this winter for the Occupy Madison movement started with a small handful of people, and grew to about 30 children, women, and men who waved signs, delivered passionate speeches, and marched peacefully on downtown Madison.

Many people in town have asked me what they stand for, what their message is. To hear it in their own words, check out the videos, or check out the photos of the signs they were holding.

After attending the rally Saturday, I'd have to say there was no one message, but rather many themes in common. The word I heard time and again was "justice."

Several at the rally felt that big money is corrupting politics, and that the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which gave corporations and unions alike the ability to spend at will to support or attack political candidates, must be reversed. Others spoke about the need for economic justice at all levels of our society. Still others said they considered themselves products of the American Dream and that they are concerned that dream would be denied for the next generation, for our children.

There were angry words from those who had lost their jobs or lost their homes. One speaker exhorted those who had experienced personal failures such as job losses, unpaid debts, or repossessed homes to consider the role that systemic corporate and government failures have played in contributing to those losses.

Lynne Charles, one of the organizers, paraphrased Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop's famous thesis, "A Model of Christian Charity," better known as his City on a Hill sermon. Written in 1630 aboard the Arabella, one of eleven ships that sailed from England to New England, the sermon is considered Winthrop's effort to characterize the spirit of the community they were about to join and help create. It has been quoted by everyone from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan since then, and Charles joined them Saturday when she explained why she took the afternoon to Occupy Madison.

"Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God," Winthrop wrote. "For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."

Charles said she agreed with that sentiment. 

"We have our wealth ... because of our shared commitment to each other," she said. "We should let go our our superfluities to help others with their necessities."

There were other messages displayed Saturday that might resonant with some of us who live in Madison. One woman attending the rally held a sign that said, "Honk if you support local business." This is a theme supported by other Occupy events as well. Check out the YouTube video with this article that documents a "mic check" protest at the end of December in the Branford Walmart, a protest that encouraged shoppers to shop local.

Concern about economic justice, undue corporate influence, the effect of the bad economy on individual lives, the future of our children, and how we can address those concerns in our everyday lives were among topics discussed Saturday and displayed on signs.

Honk if you agree, several signs said. And many drivers Saturday afternoon did just that.

John on Warpas Road January 08, 2012 at 11:24 PM
99% of these "Wall Street Protesters" are Obama supporters. Why don't they blame their leader for putting our country in such horrible shape? Obama promised us 5 Million new jobs, instead we lost over 2 Million. Where is their outrage??
Jeff January 09, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Can you say George Bush? BTW, a lifelong registered Republican joined us this weekend... So i guess there are both flavors within Occupy.
John on Warpas Road January 09, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Yeah, one lukewarm Republican stops by, and you want us to believe your not a bunch of liberal wackos? Sorry. I'm not buying it. I've watched many of the protesters around the country. They come out of their BMW's, with Northface jackets on, and then whine about the injustices in our country. Certainly their daddy paid for their useless liberal arts education, the beemer and the jacket.
Robert Bracer January 09, 2012 at 10:54 AM
John, so much anger, and such bad spelling. Watching alot of protestors on FOX news, eh? Seems like you're jealous. So be it. BTW, the economy added 1.6 million jobs in 2011, and another 940,000 added in 2010. The country lost 5,000,000 from 2007- 2008. Conveniant amnesia? Typical tea party patriot, ha!
John on Warpas Road January 09, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Oh, I feel so much better now. Didn't realize all that "Hope and Change" actually worked. Unemployement at 8.5%, undereployement at 17%, Trillions of new debt, and the net loss of 2M jobs...................and I'm supposed to feel good.
Janet January 09, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The only thing this occupy movement is underscoring is that people are pissed off. Underemployed/unemployed are pissed at corporate America, and many are also pissed at the stronghold that Unions have on governments with their cushy pensions and benefits. Who is going to pay the massive obligations of the pension fund in CT? We all are, that's who. This is capitalism folks... this is what we get. People win and people lose. Neither Republicans or Democrats or certainly not both of them "working together" are going to solve these problems any time soon. But what's our alternative?
Jeff January 09, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Looking forward to the end of this "capitalism" thing. It's not what the foundation of this democracy was based on. Did you learn about it in civics class in grade school? No, you didn't. If not for FDR, this country would have ceased being in the 1930's. And after the 2nd failure of capitalism under Bush2, you still thing capitalism works? You are living with your head in the sand....
Janet January 10, 2012 at 01:27 AM
No need to be rude Jeff. Capitalism isn't perfect and it does breed greed, but we are still better off than 99% of the countries in this world. And Bush 2 didn't cause the most current problem. Bill Clinton started this "house for every family" bunk that Bush then also supported, and the greedy bankers and brokers took it from there.
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Janet, Please accept my sincere apology, that comment was not meant to be rude. I'm simply saying many today are living with their heads in the sand where social justice is concerned. The one man one house thing didn't come from Bill Clinton. Watch this little ditty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=effDfpKYcVo In my humble opinion, the biggest problem in this country today is lack of education. Without ANY knowledge of history, we are simply doomed to repeat it. In this case, we're heading straight for 1939.
Janet January 10, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I think the speech sounds great, but there are things in it that are contradictory. Who regulates how much of a profit a businessman is allowed to make? Who dictates what a "decent" wage is? America provides the "opportunity" for anyone to become successful. Those who truly cannot function on their own should be taken care of, but I feel that those who can and are just not motivated are not "entitled" to be taken care of by my tax money. And I don't feel I should have to carry people who bought things they could not afford to buy. He didn't say American's are entitled to flat screen TVs and iphones, yet Americans who can't afford these things are buying them instead of paying their rent. You can't control people's behavior. Yes, the government is severely flawed and many are corrupt, and we owe our shirts to the Chinese. We got there because we are a society that CONSUMES much more than we create. I really don't know what the solution is. I just know that I continue to work hard and hope for the best.
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Janet, I frequently hear comments like those in your most recent post. I don't know where you grew up, have lived, your life experience. But I grew up in NYC. I have lived among both the very rich and very poor my whole life. I can tell you that the number of people "gaming" the system or simply mismanaging their personal economics are insignficant. (continued...)
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 02:56 AM
(continuation)... It's the rants of Fox News that elevates that sort of thinking, not facts and circumstances of statistically significant numbers of real people. The fact is that personal home ownership provides a stake in society and the macro economy. The conservative right would like to lay responsibility for the failure of the banks, illiquidity of credit markets, and foreclosures at the feet of someone handy like Bill Clinton, but they would also like to entirely remove the social safetly net that FDR established and carried this nation through its most successful and productive decades (ending with Ronald Reagan). I'll bet the right would entirely eliminate public education and public health given the chance, in the name of smaller government. Problem is, we've already lived in the world they would re-create. It existed in spades in the 1930's when my father grew up. He never owned his own original pair of shoes until Uncle Sam handed him a pair of boots to go to war in 1942 (he only had hand-me-downs). FDR and social democratic policies changed his life and the lives of all Americans by providing for eduaction (GI Bill), affordable housing, and many of the other tenets of the New Deal. I, for one, think we need to re-inforce the strings that bound that net together.
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 02:58 AM
enforce, that is.
John on Warpas Road January 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
We all know Jeff is against "Capitalism" yet I'm wondering what form of society he recommends? What society has helped their people greater than Capitalism? Just curious.........this ought to be good.
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 03:03 AM
I already said... New Deal Social Democracy... the system you very likely grew up living under. OK, I'm done. Good night!
John on Warpas Road January 10, 2012 at 04:20 AM
You need to listen to Milton Friedman a little.
Jeff January 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Keynes. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/opinion/krugman-americas-unlevel-field.html
Banana Sam January 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Thankfully I didn't have any people like these "occupiers" influencing me in my early years. I'd probably be a financially troubled malcontent too.
Jeff January 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Thanksfully 2/3 of American's were paying attention to civics lessons in school: Conflict between rich and poor now eclipses racial strain and friction between immigrants and the native-born as the greatest source of tension in American society, according to a survey released Wednesday. About two-thirds of Americans now believe there are “strong conflicts” between rich and poor in the United States, a survey by the Pew Research Center found, a sign that the message of income inequality brandished by the Occupy Wall Street movement and pressed by Democrats may be seeping into the national consciousness. Full article: http://occupyshorelinect.org/content/ny-times-survey-finds-rising-perception-class-tension
John on Warpas Road January 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
The whiney protesters have no idea how good the opportunities are in this country. Of course, they complain that they can't get a good job, yet got a college degree in Ancient Chinese HIstory. Both my parents came to this country with nothing. They fled Europe after WW2 and through nothing but hard work, lived the American dream. They were discriminated against, had no safety net, no free education, no family structure, nothing. Instead, they worked hard, starting with menial jobs, but saved and worked their way up through the ranks. I know they look at these Wall Street complainers with disgust. .
Jeff January 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM
John, Yes, but unbeknownst to you... your parents (statistically speaking) wouldn't have the same opportunities today as they did 50 years ago. See this article: http://occupyshorelinect.org/content/ny-times-harder-americans-rise-lower-rungs Perhaps start getting your "news" from some other source than Fox...?
Janet January 12, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Sorry, I meant "Jeff", not John.
Janet January 12, 2012 at 01:07 PM
John, do you have a definition of rich and poor in this country? I sure don't. Am I rich because I worked hard to own my home outright and husband who saved and worked hard all his life? By some definitions we are "rich" and people feel we need to be made to "pay more". My tax bills are obscene, and yet they want more. Since when did "rich" become a dirty word in this country?
Jeff January 12, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Janet, no worries... FIrst, I'm so glad this article engendred so much attention from the right. It's all part of the leftward shift of political discourse in this country, a thing I clearly welcome and that the Occupy Movement successfully brought about. Believe it or not... you are probably closer to poor than rich. Rich in this country now starts at net income around $10M (not assets) and rises into the billions in annual income. And as you note, your economic power is diminishing everyday in light of the substantial shift in wealth to a very small number of those rich folks, the likes of whom you probably don't spend much time with, i.e. the Koch Brothers. While your taxes may seem obscene to you... they are actually the lowest they have been in many decades and are far lower in percentage of income than nearly any other developed country. Discretionary spending is now less than 2% of GDP! Let me ask, what would have happened to this country without the New Deal...? Would the USA even exist today? Republicans in both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly voted for FDR's New Deal policies from Day 1. Why did they do that? After Hoover, they felt it was FDR's way or falling off the abyss. So we've been to the abyss. Do we really have to go back now...?
John on Warpas Road January 12, 2012 at 02:41 PM
What a bunch of sniffling blowhards. 95% of Madison is advantaged from birth. To pretend that we are somehow under the foot of the "rich man" is B.S.. If you want the redistribution of wealth worse than Obama can manage you need to go to a Communist country where you can live under the rule: " To each according to his ability....to each according to his need". Otherwise, you need to find a 1%'er in this country and kiss them on the lips. They pay more than half the taxes in this country................Yet, you want more. Well, I ask you this............EXACTLY how much more? What tax rate do you think is "fair"? The bottom 40% of this country pay NO income taxes. Yet, they benefit from lots of public services. Quit your belly aching and go find a country where you think things are "more" fair. Were everyone is equal.......
Jeff January 12, 2012 at 03:29 PM
John, I don't need to go anywhere... this country is heading to the same place I am. Just look at how Newt and Perry have come around to understanding the true nature of Capitalism. It only took them a few weeks to become enlightened. BTW, I'm done with this string, but thanks for taking so much time to think about Occupy Shoreline CT: occupyshorelinect.org

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