In some ways, the Occupy Wall Street Washington DC encampment is the “last man standing” among all the Occupy movements in the US right now.
Two months after the protests broke out, many of the others have been cleared out or denied permission to pitch tents or sleep overnight in such places as Oakland, Philadelphia, New York – we’ve all seen the headlines!
I’ve just come back from the DC site in McPherson Square, only a couple of blocks from the White House, where I sought the views of the “residents” on why they think the authorities have largely left their camp alone.
John, cradling his breakfast-time yoghurt told me:
“Well I think we have a very good approach, we have a non-violent approach. Here we practice non-violent direct action. We have a very good working relationship with the police.”
Barry told me he’d just arrived at the DC camp from the New York, where he says he witnessed some drug taking and a little violence …. mostly heated arguments.
“It’s really not a reflection of the Occupy Movement. What it is that it’s a reflection of society as a whole. We want to make a better world. To ignore that aspect of our society is not going to help in that regard.”
I asked Kelsey what she thought of the feeling among some people that the occupiers – even here in DC – are dirty and that the site is unsanitary?
“Well the media has been trying to find any way possible to make us look like we’re just an incompetent, incoherent group of you know, slobs, lying around the park. In here, I think we’ve been following pretty strict sanitation guidelines. Of course, there are always going to be individuals in any sort of group living situation that have lower standards of cleanliness than others, but as a community we’ve been addressing that as it comes up and tried to nip anything in the bud that might not be sanitary or safe for the whole camp.”