I want to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. I really do. I agree with the majority consensus on major issues (get money out of politics, banking reform, stop congressmen and women from passing legislation affecting companies where the senator or representative is an investor) and I’m terrified that this latest nationwide crackdown is trying to snuff out the movement.*
However, I’m also terrified of well-intentioned-yet-ignorant. Here’s a statement released by Occupy Atlanta regarding Black Friday protests:
Black Friday gets its name because it is traditionally the day that retailers, big banks, and major corporations move from “in the red” to “in the black” where they start to turn a profit. While the 1% are doing better than ever, every day ordinary people are struggling to make ends meet. In a world of foreclosures, unemployment, and high cost of living,
Americans are seemingly always “in the red.”
Big corporations and the media try to use this day to tell us that the economy is doing fine. We know that is a lie. More and more people are falling into poverty. 50 million Americans now have to rely on food stamps. Homes are being foreclosed on at an astonishing rate every day. In Atlanta alone, 1% of the population controls almost 70% of our resources. We say the economy is not doing fine.
Occupy Atlanta is using the massive crowds of everyday people gathering on Black Friday as an opportunity to raise awareness of immoral corporate practices and income inequality. We will be reaching out to the community through symbolic actions of civil disobedience. This field guide was created not just for people from Occupy Atlanta or the rest of the city to take action, but to encourage those in the rest of the state and country to have a little fun, and raise some awareness this holiday season.
In addition we will also be holding a really, really free market at 3pm at Troy Davis Park(formerly Woodruff Park) featuring free food, clothing, and other items.
First off, not all corporations are evil. Some absolutely are, but you can’t paint all of them with the same brush. But more importantly, shopping is good for the economy. Yes, small businesses deserve love too, but take a company like Best Buy:
Best Buy is not a perfect company because no perfect company exists. Their return policies can be nightmarish and their “Geek Squad” should be avoided at all costs. However, Best Buy employs thousands of workers. The company is not only staffed by the blue-shirts you see on the floor. There’s a corporate infrastructure at work and all those people need jobs. If you cut off Best Buy, then there will be layoffs. Furthermore, there’s a ripple effect. The company can’t afford as much merchandise so that hurts everyone behind those products. Most importantly, spending is how money goes back into the economy.
That’s why stimulus is so important. It’s not just for repairing roads and bridges (although that’s also important). It’s to put money in the pockets of Americans so they can go spend it. Occupy Atlanta doesn’t understand this. I appreciate that they took the day to try and raise awareness of the movement, but it’s a muddled message and people don’t like being chastised for shopping.
One final note: Woodruff Park is not “Troy Davis Park”. You can’t rename places just because you want to. Furthermore, the wrongful execution of a man has nothing to do with the economy unless everything falls under the umbrella of “injustice”. Finally, this renaming damages the use of Twitter to spread the word and gather people. If you tweet “Meet up at Troy Davis Park”, some people may not know what you’re talking about unless they’re already involved in the movement and were probably going to show up anyway. If you tweet “Meet up at Troy Davis Park (formerly Woodruff Park)” you’ve burned off a lot of characters. And if you just do the sensible thing and tweet “Meet up at Woodruff Park”, then there was really no point in renaming anyway.
I don’t know how Occupy is working in other cities, but here in Atlanta it needs to be smarter and better understand what it’s protesting. No one cares if Occupy Atlanta is standing in solidarity with the Egyptian people. The movement can’t be a catch-all, especially if it doesn’t understand what it’s catching.
*As a side note, I don’t recall this kind of force being brought against Tea Party protestors.
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