OK, so a lot of the demonstrators were from Woodstock, right next door. But we demonstrated in nearby Kingston, on our own actual Wall Street, in front of the Wells Fargo Office. Besides, Woodstock is already occupied, and for over forty years.
Kingston, New York, is in Ulster County, in the beautiful Hudson Valley. We are a haven for artists, lefties, farmers, orchard-keepers, Manhattan weekenders, rock-climbers, and students. But few students were there today. (We expect more young people to come at our OWS rally on Saturday in my town, New Paltz, a SUNY town.)
This was the primary demographic today: middle-aged or older, but probably unable to retire. The Woodstock People, 60-something women with long grey hair and open faces, old men with beards and earth tone shirts. All had that certain air of lifelong progressive activism: keen eye contact, quick smiles, weary mien. Lots of hugs: most knew many.
We would seem the poster-child set for the Rushes and Hannities: "agitators", veterans of causes since the 60s. But almost all of us are business people, entrepreneurs, and overwhelmingly bourgeoisie and well-educated. Most of us are directly affected by the bad economy and unregulated, rapacious banking. And desperate to re-establish the opportunities and protections for our children and grandchildren. In other words, "despite" our leftist politics, we are hard-working, optimistic, ordinary, beleaguered, middle-class Americans.
As usual, our superb local law enforcement were there. I can't say that enough: Ulster County law enforcement is professional, intelligent, fair, and a welcome presence everywhere they go. Another myth busted – defiant lawless dirty anarchist radicals my ass– and liberal Ulster lives the truth of our support of police every day.
I went with my grown daughter Molly and my Buddhist friend Steve. On the way home I ranted about the one guy at the end who muddied the waters with his anti-fracking energy agenda, his anti-factual declarations about energy, his call to end all fossil fuels tech overnight, and his inane reference to Nazis. Steve – who is more patient with my know-it-all obsessive criticizing, my tendency to find the one hair in the soup kettle, than I deserve – reminded me that 99% of the speakers were on-message.
We all agreed. We are with that 99%, who spoke ferociously about our criminal banking system. Whether they know it yet or not, so are most Americans. If we stay on-message, they WILL know.