The morning has come and the police have left the protestors alone in the park for the first night until four AM when they advised them that their rest period was over. The number who stayed in the park was diminished but their spirit was not. Union steel workers held a demonstration this morning in favor of the tar sands pipeline; it is a diverse group indeed.
The time is pivotal; will this thing now grow or wither away? There is a lot riding on this event and a lot of people have invested a lot of hope in this and we must trust and depend on each other despite our political differences. The forces opposed to us are united; we must become united as well.
I met a woman who was walking through the plaza holding a sign, “Stop Home Foreclosures.” She was a single mother from New Jersey and had applied for President Obama’s HAMP mortgage program. The bank had agreed to lower her mortgage payment by $400 a month but after four months she received a letter from the bank saying that upon further review she did not qualify because her income level was too low. The bank also stipulated that she was entitled to re-apply for the program. Only before her application could be reconsidered she would have to repay the $1,600 discounted from the previous four months of making house payments.
Like millions of other Americans this mother of two small children had been forced to take a lower paying job and so she had applied for food assistance only to be told that she did not qualify because she made too much money.
Another mother told me about how her son had died at the age of thirty two because he did not have health insurance and that only when his condition deteriorated did he become eligible for Medicaid. He had needed a colonoscopy which he could not afford but after he was diagnosed with cancer he was then eligible for assistance.
A veteran told me about his non-service related disability pension. When he turned sixty two he applied for Social Security and had lost his subsidized housing and now had to pay co-pays to the VA for his medications leaving him in a financial net loss.
The stories are as myriad as the people themselves, a young woman plays banjo while her boyfriend clogged and buck danced in perfect time on a small wooden platform. They are the best of America; they’re trying to raise awareness about mountain top removal in West Virginia.
There was a buzz that went through the plaza when Ralph Nader appeared but I missed seeing him. I was too busy with the real celebrities to catch up with Ralph. I was talking with the walking wounded and the corporately sacrificed and lest there be any doubting Thomases among us, the wounds are here to feel and see. These are the real Americans and this is why we have come here to Washington, to see and to feel, to commune, commiserate and to let out a collective howl of anger and pain to our antagonists, to shout at them on their balconies that we know who you are, we know what you do and we know where the bastards live.
It is hoped that the crowds will swell this weekend, but tomorrow, Sunday, will be the big day of decision. It is the day that the people’s parade permit runs out, our paper permission slip from the government to occupy the plaza called freedom.
David Glenn Cox is a senior staff writer for The Leftist Review