It’s the beginning of week two of the copycat Wall Street “occupation” in downtown Atlanta, specifically in Woodruff Park, which the protestors have rechristened Troy Davis Park, after the recently executed cop-killer. I’ve covered some Tea Party events, the point of comparison by some commentators.
Not only did I see for myself that the comparison was illegitimate, but I saw something disturbing that has been missed in the coverage. The situation could end with occupiers concluding their protest playtime by sputtering about “corporate greed” as their parents drive them home from jail. Or some of the little-noticed elements could begin something that harms innocent people.
Most of the occupiers seem to be nice people. Indeed, the atmosphere was akin to a hippie art festival. Cardboard signs, amongst about fifty tents, proclaimed various vague grievances. A colorful variety of people milled about among the homeless, the unofficial permanent inhabitants. Next to an obviously troubled homeless woman with matted hair lying on the bare ground still damp from the previous few days of rain, a sixtyish couple in Land’s End-style attire dismantled their tent. One long-gray-bearded man dressed in buckskins rode his bike with signs complaining about tobacco companies and the slaughter of the buffalo. A group of about six young preppie guys tossed around balloons. Four young men, looking more counter-culture-ish, wore bright orange t-shirts that said “Cop Watch.” A homeless man was at a table slapping peanut butter and jelly on bread. Three fashionably dressed college age women tried to keep their dresses down in the wind as they picked up trash. Accompanying the constant piped-in elevator-jazz music was a tune beat out on a bucket and tambourine by campers.
A section of wooden fence invited: “What’s your story?” n Magic Marker were litanies about job loss, foreclosure, and a specific complaint about “bank fees, airline bag fees, and overcrowded classrooms.” A student from neighboring Georgia State University introduced himself and sold me a paper by the International Socialist Organization, which he pitched as a misunderstood group simply wanting “reform.” I asked him if many GSU professors were helping with the occupation. Oh, lots. He named one, but then seemed to think better of it.
Friday’s event was a march to the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter that is being purchased by Emory Healthcare. The shelter is across the street from Emory University Midtown Hospital, both about a mile away from the encampment.