by Charles A. Monagan
Feb 16, 2012
09:58 AM
On Connecticut

Too Much of a ... Thing?


The New Haven Independent recently reported that the Occupy New Haven movement, which has been encamped on the New Haven Green for better than four months, recently met with city officials in an effort to ensure their presence will remain there and their protest will continue in a way that will be acceptable for all parties involved.

Unlike many of the other Occupy movements around the globe, including Occupy Hartford, Occupy New Haven is one of the last remaining groups that is actually occupying a physical place. Most have either been forcibly swept away by local law enforcement or just lost steam and faded away, with the many opting to continue their efforts through specific periodic public events rather than an ongoing presence.

In the aforementioned article, it appears that the city is trying to figure out a peaceful way to deal with the group in a way that doesn't impinge on their rights, which is admirable considering how other municipalities have acted. The group appears to appreciate that and seems willing to negotiate with that goodwill in mind.

To be honest, although being well within the 99 percent, I'm struggling to determine what the Occupy New Haven movement stands for, and what exactly they're trying to achieve. I mean, I get—and fully appreciate—being opposed to 1 percent of the population controlling the rest. The initial movement and protests on Wall Street made a terrific deal of sense to address that matter, and successfully brought to light the frustration of many. But in a city like New Haven, which is not exactly known for corporate greed or an overly oppressive government, I'm not sure the protest carries quite the same weight.

On its website, the group talks about being "an exercise in Direct Democracy." We have direct democracy when we go to the voting booth every November, so this isn't anything being denied anyone. I'm not trying to be dense, I just don't get what exactly it is they're looking for.

From their website:

What do you want: what are you protesting for/against?
We want what everybody wants: the ability to have a home, to make a livelihood, to have a family or a community, to live free. We all want economic and social justice. Thus, we are protesting for the rights of the 99% – for our most basic rights as citizens, to convene, to express ourselves, and to be heard. We are unified by our sense of economic injustice, as a result of both our domestic, and foreign, policy.

These are all worthy, noble ideas, but once again, I'm not sure anyone in New Haven is standing in the way of anyone pursuing any of these goals. If anything, New Haven seems like the liberal kind of place that happily supports such goals. But of course, the folks of Occupy New Haven are entitled to continue their protest for their reasons. I guess it's good that they are keeping the spotlight on their cause, as it is. But like many causes, I do believe that it's impossible to sustain the energy and enthusiasm if there's not a clear, specific right or idea that's being denied or called into question. How long can this go on?

Again, the website:

How long do people intend to Occupy New Haven?
We will stay until change happens! Until broad swaths of the American population realize that it is we, the 99% alone that can reclaim society from the domination of the 1%.

Are they talking about hanging around until there's a complete redistribution of wealth and power in this country? They better build houses rather than live in tents because it's going to be a loooooong time before that happens, even under ideal circumstances and if all parties concerned were willing, which I guarantee the 1 percent is not.

Anyway, I wish the best to the group because I do think that they have hit upon some fundamental questions that need to be addressed. Still, I wonder if they might not be better served changing their tactics—pack up the tents, and save the rallies on the Green for specific events. Like a squeaky wheel, if it goes on long enough, the noise just sort of becomes part of the background and is forgotten.

Too Much of a ... Thing?

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