There was a battle raging in the streets of New York City on the night of Thursday, Nov. 17.  This particular battle had been ongoing since late Monday night, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to oust the Wall Street Occupiers from Zuccotti Park, the location that has housed their encampment for the last two months.

Since then, hundreds of peaceful protesters have been arrested; many injured; their encampment has been cleared of dozens of donated tents, blankets, personal belongings, food, and over 5,000 books that constituted the site’s lending library, all of which likely has been sent to the dump; numerous actions against the media have been taken (including violence to reporters); and Bloomberg has enthusiastically defended the operation and taken full credit. After all of these potential (or actual) human rights violations, Keene State College’s campus felt, to me, oddly silent, content, and complacent on that evening.  In fact, the largest mass of people on this campus to my knowledge were gathered together not in outraged protest, but in jubilant celebration at a pep rally in the Spaulding Gymnasium (not that there is anything wrong with jubilee or pep rallies, but in the light of recent events in this country, I am a tad skeptical of my fellow students).

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I have even had the misfortune of seeing a few folks on Facebook – none students of Keene State, thankfully for my dignity – defending the egregiously violent actions of the NYPD and decrying the protesters.  It is for this reason that I believe a few things (unfortunately) need to be made clear.  Let me waste no more time in beginning.

1. These protests are not centered on self-interest or entitlement.  The protesters and supporters of the movement come from numerous walks of life.  They are not solely students who pursued degrees in the arts and now believe that it is the government’s responsibility to give them employment because people skilled in the arts are apparently unprofitable.  It is one thing when my girlfriend’s aging grandfather, a life-long member of the Republican Party, misinterprets the movement as such: it is quite another when an individual fresh out of college does so.  It is further evidence of our failed education system in this society.

2. Many members of the 1% really did play a primary role in crashing our economy.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any economist who is not himself or herself being paid off by the adherents to the very ideology that helped cause our current economic crisis.  Or do yourself a favor and check out the recent film “Inside Job” for an accessible, comprehensive explanation of how our entire global economic system was damaged for the benefit of several coke-heads and sex-addicts at the top.

3. None of those responsible for our economic downturn were convicted or even investigated. Instead, the government responded by handing them billions of dollars, claiming that they were “too big to fail,” but placing no guidelines on how the money was to be used.  You have not forgotten that, have you?!

4. Those active in the Occupy Wall Street movement are the ONLY ones who are standing up to this great, inexcusable economic and social injustice of our time.  The rest of us persevere in a failing economy, either because we know nothing else and transition is hard (my complete empathy there) or we are completely ignorant to the fact that the market does not actually have a mind of its own; that our economy is indeed manipulated by the selfishly powerful.

5. The Occupy Wall Street encampment was far from the “health and safety risk” that Bloomberg claimed it was in order to justify its violent eviction.  I should know, because I was there the night before the eviction occurred, and I am so grateful that I was.  It was extremely organized and highly functional, with dozens of volunteers serving food, staffing the library, offering counseling and mediation services, offering faith services, and performing custodial work… and all of this without a bureaucratic system of organization, go figure!  However, this is not the most inspiring aspect of the movement, which leads me to my final point:

6. The Occupy Wall Street protesters are probably among a frighteningly small minority of people still engaged in modern Western society that are living as human-beings should: in cooperation, tolerance, and good faith in their fellow humans.    I saw this by the warm welcome I received from many of them; the complete trust they seemed to have in me and one another.  I saw it in the diversity of the population there: literally people of all faiths, ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds (where else can you see Hasidic Jews in solidarity with anarchist-punks?).  Most of all I felt it the very energy that pervaded the park: that of greater purpose, faith, and love.

This last point would indicate why I was not completely devastated when, less than 48-hours later, I watched video footage of sanitation workers trashing the immensely beautiful book collection and throwing them, along with other items of personal property, into garbage trucks.  Nor did my heart break when I watched any of the countless videos up of police brutality.  Indeed, the spirit of these people is far too great to be squashed by anything the establishment or the media has and will continue to sling at them. It will stay strong and persevere because it must.  It has to for the sake of our economy, but more importantly for the sake of humanity.  If we claim to believe in democracy, in equal opportunity, in humanity, then we should not be condemning this movement.  No, in fact we should be joining it, and nothing less.


Tom Clancy can be contacted at


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