Occupy Albany

Occupy Albany 2011 #1 Crowd Shot.jpg

Occupy Albany protestors in Lafayette Park today.

The Occupy Albany protest began Friday afternoon. Protestors gathered with signs at Lafayette Park, right across from the state Capitol.

So, who's down there? And what are they hoping they'll achieve?

Here are some of the faces of Occupy Albany and why they were there...

Occupy Albany 2011 Erica.jpg

Who?
Erica, a math student from Schenectady County Community College.

Why Occupy Albany?
We need to make another choice. We need to make another system that works for everybody and I want to be a part of the process. I would like to see myself when I graduate from college not having to live from hand to mouth as I've seen my friends do -- not having to live from paycheck to paycheck.

I just want to be here, be supportive and be part of this and see where it takes it.


Occupy Albany 2011 Joe.jpg

Who?
Joe from Stillwater. Vietnam vet, retired from Verizon.

Why Occupy Albany?
Part of the reason I'm here is that I'm against the war in Afghanistan and the war that went on in Iraq.

I want to open up the consciousness of Americans -- the ordinary people driving by and beeping their horns -- they're the ones you see in Price Chopper, they're not in the corporate boardrooms. I think it's possible that this could make things happen.

Occupy Albany 2011 Megan.jpg

Who?
Megan, homeschooling mom from Clarksville. Green party.

Why Occupy Albany?
I very much care about the voice of the people being heard. That voice of money and power and greed can no longer be the dominant voice. I just hope to stand in solidarity with the people who have been working hard for this movement. I have three small children and I'm homeschooling and I'd like them to see that we can have a voice in our country and we have the power to speak.

Occupy Albany 2011 Ron & Family.jpg

Who?
Ron, director of a not-for-profit. Independent.

Why Occupy Albany?
We're part of the 99% and we're lending our voice and support to the movement.

I think everybody is here to raise consciousness and get people to pay attention to what's going on in our society rather than continue down the same road. I'm just an independent that wants to see some change and is tired of the top 1% controlling much of the wealth in our society.

I think there's multiple messages coming out of Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy movement, but I also think we shouldn't try to define a movement. I don't think here has to be one specific message or one specific ask. That may frustrate some people but the reality is there's many things that need to be addressed and that's what people are frustrated about and that's what people are organizing around. It's no easy fix, but I think that what would make people happy is the recognition of what's going on and that things need to change and having our elected officials stand up and take notice. Governor Cuomo isn't paying attention to 72% of people who support the millionaires tax, and I think he should.


Occupy Albany Tom & Linda.jpg
Who?
Tom & Linda
Tom: Owner of Sunspot Cafe in Albany.

Why Occupy Albany?
I started protesting on Wall Street and it got to critical mass and we're looking to get Albany to critical mass as well.

This movement happens and suddenly people are aware. There are so many things that are wrong but we can finally talk about it and more people are just aware. At the shop for example I can finally talk with people about not using their credit card and why they shouldn't -- why they should support local business instead of the big corporations.

I do want the revolution and really nothing less than it. It's very difficult to know what that looks like but there are so many things that need to change -- it looks like something radically different from what we see today.

Linda: Schenectady resident.

Why Occupy Albany?
What's important to me is that people are informed and that we don't follow blindly. So I think it's good to make people think about what small steps can I make to change this. How am I participating in a system... not everyone is really aware of maybe part of how we got here. I'm going to practice barely using my credit card for a few months. I need to think... "where is my money going?"

Occupy Albany 2011 Chet.jpg

Who?
Chet from Albany. Alliance for Quality Education.

Why Occupy Albany?
This is a movement that is akin to the civil rights movement. Their aim wasn't to get the front seat of the bus, their aim was to get equal. And I think that's what we're out here for, we want to have the same power as the corporate people in the world.

I'm out here personally for myself not for work because I'm part of the 99%. I'm trying to scrape by trying to pay my bills, can't get by on what I'm being paid.

I'm looking for a fundamental change in the way the government works. I think we're now looking at a government that responds better to the corporate world, to the top 1% of people who line their pockets with money. And the rest of us can't do that. We have a lot of families that need to pay their heat and their rent. We are the 99%. We should have a lot more say in our government.

Occupy Albany 2011 Maude.jpg

Who?
Maude Easter, Albany. Activist with Women Against War.

Why Occupy Albany?
Our economy has become distorted. Global warming is a bigger threat to us than anything happening in Afghanistan. I love the idea that people are seeing the connections of some of these issues ... that people are seeing that if the wealthy are not taxed in proportion to the privelidge they enjoy in society from their wealth then it limits programs and opportunites for all of us. I think this whole movement has drawn people together who are suffering from the disparity of the very few at the top and the 99%. Today is an encouraging time for everyone.

Occupy Albany 2011 Justo.jpg

Who?
Justo Berrenguer, Troy. Barber shop owner.

Why Occupy Albany?
I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. I'm a business owner, I'm not broke, I'm not poor. I work hard for my money but I have a daughter and I have to do this for her because I remember growing up I had so many opportunities and I see every year those opportunities get smaller and smaller for these young kids, and eventually my daughter won't have opportunities. I'd like for the banks to stop chokin' us so much, you know? These bankers have been piling up money -- they should be building businesses and creating jobs.

Occupy Albany 2011 Jasmine.jpg

Who?
Jasmine from Albany. Food service. Democrat.

Why Occupy Albany?
I'm one of the 99%. I work two jobs still trying to pay off student loans and health bills because I can't afford health insurance. The rich need to start paying their fair share to help out. The 99% can't support America anymore with the little bit of money that we have. My aunt's job was sent overseas. Governor Cuomo needs to pay attention 'cause we're the ones that make his coffee. we're the ones that clean all of this up, we're the ones that make the food -- we make Albany better and we need help. We need jobs here . We need to make sure teachers aren't taken out of classrooms and first responders are coming to save our communities. Each town does their own and eventually it will go to Washington and make them notice. I have patience. I'm a Mets fan, I know what patience is.

Occupy Wall Street 2011 Nadine.jpg

Who?
Nadine, Albany. Social worker.

Why Occupy Albany?
I work with foster children so I see firsthand the results of poverty and inequality. And I see kids that don't really have a forseeable future. I have friends that work in the field with me that have thousands and thousands of dollars in debt -- social workers -- that don't get paid well and they'll be in debt the rest of their lives. Racism and inequality are some of my reasons. It's a vicious cycle -- you don't know if the racism is causing the inequality or the inequality is causing the racism. And just corporations that dominate and rule everything that we do. Our politicians are no longer serving us, they're serving the corporations. There are so many different reasons.

Occupy Albany 2011 John Curtin .jpg

Who?
John, UAlbany student and entrepreneur.

Why Occupy Albany?
The way the system is structured is indefensible from an economic or moral or any standard, really. My take on Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Albany or any of these is to draw attention to the fact that things aren't working. If I say I'm anti-war or against fracking, that might alienate anyone who doesn't agree with me. So I think the power of this movement, or whatever you want to call it, is that it embraces everything. We're not trying to get anything accomplished, we're not making demands of anyone to legitimize that entity. The point is to call attention to the fact that things need to change.
____

Elsewhere: Here's a good photoset from day 1 by Timothy Raab.

Later/earlier on AOA:
+ Photos from Day 1 of the protest
+ Toward occupying Albany, via consensus

Comments

They were banging on doors downtown demanding to be let in to use the toilet. Guys- this event was scheduled a long while back, you should have worked that out ahead of time.

I'm really torn about this movement.

On one hand I know people are struggling, theyre frustrated and feel helpless, so in that respect I'm glad they have a place to vent.

On the other hand I feel like the fact that they are demanding so many different things makes it impossible that anything will get done (like the last guy in the suit said) ... but it really takes away from the legitimacy of the movement.

I'm NO FAN of the tea party by any means but I feel like they were effective in their organization because they had a somewhat focused message... whether I agree with it or not is another story... but it helped them accomplish more.

I hear a lot of people with similar views to me ... "I might get behind them but I dont know what they want" and IMO that really hurts the movement.

Either way I wish them the best of luck

LOL at the woman with the "$ for jobs, not for war". Typical of these people that look to the government for jobs, wealth, happiness, etc. Wake up people. The government is not here to provide jobs.

Best quote goes to Jasmine from Albany: "I have patience. I'm a Mets fan, I know what patience is."

I love Occupy Albany and I hope they keep going and going and going. We can have a better education system, provide the best of care for the needy, healthcare for everyone, and raise the standard of living for the 99%. The money is out there to do these things! But guess what. We are not going to get to that promised land waiting for corporations bring us there. The government must do it, and the government is us.

"The government is not here to provide jobs"

I guarantee that you or someone in your family has a job that exists due to government support, or an education that was supported by the government, or a company that got tax breaks to hire people or they work directly for the government.

The government provides and supports a large number of jobs. Is that its sole purpose? No. But it is a large part of what government does.

And one of the two mandates of the Federal Reserve is to maintain full employment. To do this, you have to have jobs for people.

"The government must do it, and the government is us." Thanks Ryan, that really says it all.

Jeff, curious...what does "No fan of the Tea Party mean?"

The media skewing them as racists,homophobes? Which is inaccurate...or the fact that most want smaller government?

Now, the Tea Party now has been overthrown and the GOP worked their evil and infiltrated it.

But many Tea party people believe in downsizing gov't, so we can lower taxes.
Deregulate health,Banking, pharmacuticals,energy so that newer companies can rise up, compete and weaken that 1% these Occupy people seem to despise
and lastly to stop going down the road of the end of the Roman Empire by colonizing and destroying countries and their culture.

Bring our troops home

>>I have a daughter and I have to do this for her because I remember growing up I had so many opportunities and I see every year those opportunities get smaller and smaller for these young kids, and eventually my daughter won't have opportunities.

Case in point: No more field trips for school children!! No more late buses for after school programs, either! :-D They were slashed from the budgets of a number of area school districts this year, including (especially) those districts recently considered "affluent." Hasn't happened at your kid's school yet? That's ok, just wait until next year! Oh and: bigger class sizes, fewer staff, the elimination of $$ to buy books for elementary classrooms (learning how to read is SO 20th century), while at the same time federal (no longer state) mandates demand an increase in high-stakes standardized testing! Welcome to the end!

>"LOL at the woman with the "$ for jobs, not for war". Typical of these people that look to the government for jobs, wealth, happiness, etc. Wake up people. The government is not here to provide jobs."

Oh.

The government is here to provide wars.

Is that it?

Seriously, what is the government here for?

Government for the US is not just about police and defence, it is also about securing happiness and welfare and justice, and not just for ourselves but also for later generations of Americans. (Read our founding documents)

The American soldiers fighting our several wars today are all directly on the government payroll -- the government has provided them jobs (and universal health care and secure pension plans and more) . We all chip in to pay for this -- through our own taxes today and through debt for later generations.

The workers who could be repairing the Tappan Zee bridge today (and thousands of such critical neglected infrastructure projects) would not be on the government payroll and would not have guaranteed health care and penson plans, since they would be working for private contractors--that is, if they were working. They are, instead, unemployed, because those who would benefit from the repairs (all of us) refuse to chip in to pay for them -- either through taxes today or through debt for later generations .

Also unemployed are those who would be working if a better infrastructure were in place for our private businesses.

We are a self-governing democratic republic. and we are therefore right to blame the government (ourselves) for unemployment (and for wars). What's our priority.

This is not about the government providing jobs! This is systematic control by corporate billionaires who buy our elected officials off! They influence your health care costs, food, water ...Every aspect of your life has been effected. If you don't believe that this is already a corporatocracy, spend a few minutes researching what the Federal Reserve is.. Hint: it is neither federal or a reserve. It's now or never..

Erich Fromm was correct in "Escape From Freedom".

The Occupy movement is so all over the place; they can't even agree amongst themselves.

If you want real change, run for office. Vote ALL of them Out. Get the politicians out that apparently are not doing the job you elected them to do and are too far corrupt to change.

@James--I kinda agree with most of what ya said.

I went to the Occupy Albany protest to meet girls.

i urge you all to go. stand in solidarity with us. be a voice. a face. a neighbor. a member of our community and of the world.

if you cant attend please consider donating - november will be here in one week - consider warm clothes, tarps, blankets, hot coffee, pillows, anything you LOVE keeping you warm - others will be grateful for too.

i will stand for you.
please, stand for me.

@ Jacky-- what do you stand for? i still don't understand what y'all stand for as a group other than a collection of all that the left deems wrong and some whining middle class kids who feel entitled to things they didn't/haven't earn...yet.

wouldn't it have been responsible to secure these resources before squatting in the park in protest? why should people donate clothes, blankets, or anything to a group of people who probably have all of these items but neglected to plan accordingly? i think i'll just keep donating to equinox and interfaith partnership instead, but thanks.

whining middle class kids who feel entitled to things they didn't/haven't earn

Uh, like what?

An education?

A job?

A representative voice in government?

They're not asking for iPads and Ferraris. "i still don't understand what y'all stand for as a group". Whose fault is that, really?

Oh AOA, you are asking so much of my self-control right now.
I just want to grab Matt, James and oye vey and shake them up and down for hours while yelling: "What. Is. Wrong. With. Your. Brain?!!"

as i suggested in my previous post--the "occupy-ers" should start running for office. people sit around complaining, errr protesting, but never get up and run for office to facilitate real change. whose attention are the protestors trying to get? politicians? too late! they are already corrupt and have "no more use".

i'm of the opinion that we are entitled to "jack" unless we earn it...including higher education or a job. life isn't fair. wah.

i still suggest reading "escape from freedom". this is just a repeat.

@S there is nothing wrong with my brain. we just happen to have differing opinions, which simply means we are incompatable as friends.

B & S,

I have a fairly good grasp on what the issues of the 99% are, and I largely agree with them, however, I do have to ask, how is the "occupation" directly leading to the abolition of economic and political inequities?

Or is this more of a showing the world that there are a lot of angry people and this is the start of a longer conversation about the validity of the American Dream?

ned, that's a good question, and I don't know the answer (would be good to discuss over a pint! I also have some ereader questions for you). I'm not affiliated with the Occupy movement, just sympathetic. I'm not sure the movement has to directly lead to anything, and I'm not sure why folks demand these protesters run for office and draft legislation. I have never heard that criticism leveled at any of our other numerous protests here in the state's capitol. The final paragraph of this NYT editorial, which you may have already read, is noteworthy. And yet...

oye vey, it's okay to have different opinions, it's when you have your own set of facts that others get a bit frustrated.

ned, it's like we are living on a different planet. For the life of me, I just can't grasp what you are saying. 2011 saw an *unprecedented* revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world. Can you deny the huge impact these demonstrations, marches and rallies had on so many countries and how it helped liberating millions of people? When this started, do you think they knew "how this occupation would directly lead to the abolition of economic and political inequities"? They didn't, yet it goddamn happened.

This country is completely apathetic in terms of getting on the street and people are *still* arguing, even after what happened over there *this year*, that protests are useless. So stubborn. The Occupy Wall Street movement drew direct inspiration from the Arab Spring. The enemy is somehow different but it does not mean it's not ruthless in its slow, quiet, and methodical ways of grinding this society. I refuse to believe that hundreds of thousands of people on the street wouldn't make a difference. What do we have instead? Just a bleep on the radar, as if people were content with getting shafted again, and again. I don't want to hear that this country is "different', is "so special", that our status is "complicated". People are people, the streets are the streets, just get there and start shaking the tree.

It makes my blood boil to see so much indifference to social progress. Hell, what am I talking about, it's not even progress, it's self-defense at this point: at *least* ask for the minimum from this government. You don't have to lose your house. The US education system can be radically improved. The health care system *sucks* on all possible metrics, but it can be changed too. The free market doesn't have to rule it all, you do not have to play Russian roulette with your pensions. I don't believe a fair economy can be achieved but I don't see how it could get much worse considering the abuse already inflicted. Just get your voice heard, voting is not enough anymore.

OK let me get my happy pill now.

-S, we are living on the same planet, but what I am asking about is what happens next. Any good plan has an end state that is acceptable. I understand that the "system" is not good but what is the goal of this protest?

The comparison to the Arab Spring (Thanks for that link!) is an interesting one. Looking specifically at Egypt, while Mubarek was deposed, what came after him? A ruling military council that is cracking down on freedoms and threatening all that was gained?

All I am asking for is something tangible and realistic instead of protest with no specific goals. Every great social movement in this country had specific goals and is it wrong to ask what those are? As for this not being a special country, we had a contested election almost eleven years ago that would have led to tanks rolling in the streets in most of the countries on this warm wet ball we live on...but they didn't because they didn't have to. The system works, maybe not as quickly as people want it to but it does work.

Arguing on the internet is a sucker's game, but I do appreciate the passion that you are bringing to this, and I think your photographs are wonderful.

Ned, I'm not affiliated to Occupy Albany (in that I'm not part of a working group at this point), but the goal as I see it is to voice anger in a peaceful manner. What happened after the Arab Spring was different in every country, yet started from the same outcry. Some autocratic rulers died in the process, some escaped, smarter ones managed to stay while granting more "freedom" to their people, etc. It's not the protesters role to draft legislation, you have elected people to do just that — I say you because I can't vote. It's time they hear you roar and stop bowing down to large companies or private interests. I don't expect your representatives to do it out of the kindness of their heart, they need to feel the heat, weigh the political risk they take by ignoring social issues.

Maybe it's just a game of numbers, maybe they won't do anything until a critical mass is loud enough that *the rest of us* start wondering: "hey, I don't necessarily agree with all of that, but at least they should be heard and their concerns addressed, because I would want *mine* to be heard too one day". At this point I would want them to engage a dialog with the protesters and say something like "well, given what we know about legislating, here is what we could do for you to address this need for economic justice, and a timetable". Wishful thinking I know. There is a strong emphasis on reaching consensus within this Occupy movement, so I would expect this back & forth to take a while.

Maybe it will be much simpler, it's possible the Occupy Working Groups come up with a few core, implementable demands. They are activists though, I would expect their demands to be extreme enough that your representative would meet them in the middle and save face in the process. The outcome would still be beneficial to us.

What do I know, really. Maybe nothing will happen but this will have greatly improved local activism and plant some seeds for the future. Practice is good.

They do have goals, I can feel it :) It's taking a while to formalize them and reach consensus. As AOA described it, the process can look tedious from the outside. I was at the AG tonight and proposals were addressed at a good clip, progresses have been made. Working Groups are still being created, new demonstrations will take place "targeting" banks specifically (there is one tomorrow) and plans for a larger protest that would aggregate all the Occupy NameYourTown groups this Saturday were discussed.

It's difficult to ask them for something tangible just yet because they really want everybody to be heard. Failure to do so would open them to the same critics they are denouncing, a disconnect between a large group of people and their representative. *I* know what I want but I can't pretend this is good for everybody. I recall this set of suggestions at the NYT wasn't so bad but I would want other sectors to be affected too.

Let's have faith in them, support the cause for another month, then re-evaluate, see where it's going. You don't have to go to NYC anymore, now is your chance to drive down to Lafayette park, participate or just check what it's all about.

(thanks for the nice words and hearing me out)

@-S

Could it be that it WORKS and is capable of cognitive thought functions?

Just like the Occupy movement, you said a lot and yet said nothing.

I am all for the right to assemble, but some of these people who blame those who worked hard (not all were handed millions) for their station in life and yell at corporate America, while they drink their Starbucks, and have on their designer clothes, while googling protesting faqs on their iPads.

The government has caused this mess, not Wall Street, not Corporate America. Our politicians are mostly bought and sold as they raise their right hand to swear in...most inaugurations should have NASCAR like sponsor tags all over
with Goldman Sachs having the premier banner

@James: Are you done trolling? Or just out of Ritalin?

> these people who blame those who worked hard

They are not. As in, you know: NOT. Like the opposite of "they are". Who blames people for having a job, that doesn't even make sense. You can't even come up with a metric for "working hard", and even if you did, you would still be stuck on repeat in the name of meritocracy. It's a myth, you know.

> while they drink their Starbucks, and have on their
> designer clothes, while googling protesting faqs on their iPads.

I know you didn't move you ass to the park, but did you look at the photos? That's some serious fashion show going on, right? Free Starbucks *fountains*, Gucci handbags hanging from the trees for the taking, people using iPads as food trays, you name it. Yes, *food trays*, James, they have sooooo many iPads they don't care! I asked for one as a gift, do you know what they used to wrap it? More iPads!

> The government has caused this mess, not Wall Street,
> not Corporate America. Our politicians are mostly bought
> and sold

And they are bought by? By? Could it be Wall Street and Corporate America? Nah, of course that's not their fault, it so happens they have money and politicians are accepting it, that's just a coincidence. The crime is not bribing in James beautiful world, it's only accepting the bribe. Pssshh, causality, who cares.

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