Charlie recently got in touch with Johnny Ramirez, the organizer of the San Francisco Occupy Wall St protest. Here’s what he had to say:
The occupation of Wall St. began on Sept. 17th and has remained strong since then garnering mass support, but no one really knows what people are occupying for. The mainstream media is presenting it in two different polarizing lights with the conservatives bashing it and most of the liberal media giving it praise for its message.
I helped organize the first protest in San Francisco in solidarity with Occupy Wall St… Personally speaking I got involved because after leaving my job in the winter of 2009 and spending time backpacking in Mexico and Europe I was frustrated that I couldn’t get an interview, much less a job once I got back home and I would watch TV and see Congress playing these stupid political mind games with each other and the American people doing nothing. I saw the protests in Tunisia and was inspired, but thought, “I’m one dude, I won’t be able to start anything.” I looked online and there was an entire group of people organizing this movement but none in California. I reached out to one of these people in NYC via my twitter (@johnnyramirez7) and they set me up on how to organize and even gave me the control of one of the official twitter accounts. (@usdayofrageCA) it took off since then and people have various stories and reasons why they’re occupying. I’m being 100% honest when I say I expected a huge failure of these protests. I didn’t think anyone would show. Since the protests started I’ve been in contact with a monsignor from San Diego who just cant stand to see this happen and has no personal reason other than trying to help the public become aware of what the banks and Congress are doing. Students showing up are drowning in loan debt and can’t pay with it with no jobs. People are showing up for their kids or other loved ones because they’re in a tough spot. But the telling part is that everyone thought they were too small to organize this movement. But once it started people listened. Among these stories are also different demands and the truth is that there is no list of agreed upon demands except one. Take the money and corruption out of government. And even though it may be seen as a liberal protest on the surface, it isn’t about left and right, Democrats and Republicans. We have had that message since day one. People of all ends of the political spectrum have shown up in support of the occupation, from socialists and progressives to real right wing Tea Partiers and anarchists, people may not even agree what day of the week it is, but they agree on the removal of money from government and the acknowledgement of the government that the banks and these corporations were responsible for the financial situation we are all in. Some people call for the arrests of the executives of AIG, Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac and others, while some want a transparent government only.
Unfortunately now, a lot of the news reports you see that aim to discredit the movement are clips of admittedly stupid people dressed as zombies marching or creative editing that makes people look like agitators before being pepper-sprayed. What you don’t see is the large number of educated people who know the issues and speak at the general assemblies; the people who show up dressed in their Sunday’s best and get interviewed but never make it on the air for the conservative media. You don’t see the cops that are sympathetic to the protests. In SF the cops were compassionate and gave us an armed escort on the first day of protests as we marched. Recently in LA the mayor gave protestors rain coats at night. This is in stark contrast to what we’ve seen in NYC videos.