This morning, a reporter posted a query on HARO (a free service that matches reporters with story sources) asking,
Were you a protester/activist back in the 1960s? If so, what's your reaction to the current Wall Street protest and the off-shoots around the country?
I thought my response was worth sharing with a wider audience:
Hi, Sondra, I went to my first demonstration about the Vietnam war in 1969 and was very active in protests all through the 1970s and beyond. I was arrested at Seabrook in 1977, committed civil disobedience but was not arrested at the Wall Street Acton in 1979, was a peacekeeper for the million-person march for peace in 1982. I probably still attend three to five demonstrations in a typical year, mostly local (Western Massachusetts) –but I did go to massive demos in Washington and NYC to try to keep us out of Iraq in 2002-03. Also, using other methods than street demonstrations, I have been an active organizer for decades. My biggest success was forming a group called Save the Mountain, which generated widespread community support and blocked a particularly horrible housing proposal next to a state park–after all the “experts” said there was nothing we could do.
As it happens, today I’m getting on a bus for an evening conference on sustainability in NYC, and staying over for the night. Tomorrow morning my plan is to go to Wall Street and see how things are going.
As a teenager, I had a poster in my room with a picture of a peace demonstration and the caption, “It is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest –Abraham Lincoln”–and I guess that pretty much sums up my feeling.
Obama has been a very weak president, falling short on issue after issue about bringing the “change” he was elected to create. He has given us a slower–and in some cases faster (like drone killings)–version of the “new normal” that developed under the illegal government of George W. Bush. No one has even been indicted for the crimes against the people by the Bush government or by the looters in suits in the financial industry. I believe strongly in the power of nonviolent protest, and am thrilled to see a new generation stepping forward, willing as we were to disrupt their lives in order to make a difference. Street protest is certainly not the only approach, and I believe we need multiple simultaneous nonviolent approaches. The country has gotten so topsy turvy and out of balance that I don’t think Richard Nixon would be tolerated by the Republican Party anymore (he’s probably to the left of Obama, if you watch both men’s actions rather than their words), and even their ‘sainted’ Reagan would be too far left to be nominated today. We desperately need an effective Left in this country, and the Occupy movement is stepping up, even if it has not figured out yet how to articulate its mission and goals.