Seen at the Occupy Chicago rally & march on Saturday, October 15th, 2011
Where were all the other dressed up people? The facebook page said this was supposed to be a fancy event, poignantly highlighting the irony of poor, jobless protesters marching against corporate greed. Marshall had dry cleaned his one-and-only suit for the occasion. Oh well. At least he was finally surrounded by like-minded, intelligent people who are angry about the current state of the American economy.
When he'd voiced his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement in his political science class the other day, many of his classmates had literally scoffed at him. Kim Brown called him naive for believing that a "rag-tag bunch of largely uninformed people could change the country's powerful financial institutions." And Joseph Henderson, his voice gushing with pity, said that while he sympathized with the protesters, "unless they come up with a clear set of political objectives, they simply can't hope to make a difference." Marshall could never understand how such imbeciles got into University of Chicago in the first place. That's why he spent so much time with his internet friends. Conversation with them was far more worthwhile. And when Commie_Spectre101 sent him the link to the October 15th Global Day of Action, he couldn't have been more excited. It was time to get out there and fight for change!
The crowd continued to gather at Jackson & LaSalle, the Occupy Chicago headquarters. There were lots of good signs: "At least the war on the Middle Class is going well!" and "I can't believe we still have to protest this crap!" Marshall looked down at his own sign, strung around his neck. It was a picture of a $100 bill, surrounded by the words: "Hey Congress! Will you pay attention to me now?!" He wished he'd thought of one of the others.
The air bubbled with a commotion that suggested excitement and a sense of purpose. One girl was asking people to sign a petition on GetMoneyOut.com. A crazy man was handing out zines full of paranoid (or maybe not so paranoid) government conspiracies. The woman directly in front of Marshall was touting the virtues of AmericansElect.org to her friend. The desire to bring them all together, to focus all their energy into a single point sent Marshall's heart into palpitations, and he began to chant, "THE PEOPLE, UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! THE PEOPLE, UNITED, WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! THE PEOPLE, UNITE--"
The AmericansElect lady turned, glared at him, and went back to her conversation. Marshall brushed past her and crossed Jackson, heading toward the food cart. He realized he should probably have some water before they marched, so he could shout even louder. When he reached the corner, a man with tied-back dreads and a camo jacket began chanting into a bullhorn: "ONE! WE ARE THE PEOPLE! TWO! WE ARE UNITED! THREE! THE OCCUPATION IS-NOT-LEA-VING!" The crowd swiftly took up his rallying cry and clapped their hands. Marshall joined in, too. This movement was, after all, bigger than his petty personal issues.
Before he knew it, they were ready to march to Michigan and Congress. The police had already gone ahead to stop traffic. Marshall swarmed onto Jackson with everybody else and wormed his way up as far as he could towards the front of the group. He thought about the future, when they would write the history books. He hoped that he'd be counted among the leaders of global change.
I was indeed at the Occupy Chicago march on Saturday night. I was out there until 3:30 a.m., actually. But don't worry, your humble author was not arrested. I am quite glad that such a movement has begun. It seems long overdue to me. I don't know where it will go, especially when you have such a diverse group of people who all want different solutions to the problem. But I think it might currently be our best hope for change, since politicians are so clearly in the pockets of the banks and other large financial institutions.
But anyway, this blog isn't about politics. You can think what you want. I wanted Marshall to be this sort of Holden Caulfield-ish character, but older and maybe more idealistic/optimistic. Hope that worked out. This is a long one. 577 words. Huh. Anyway, hope you like it.