Monthly Archives: November 2011

March Days 2 and 3: New Brunswick to Trenton, New Jersey

Day 2 Continued, Late Afternoon:

The unseasonable warmth fades as ominous gray puffs expand above, threatening rain but never delivering. Marchers become increasingly stressed as the journey continues into darkness for the second day. A few verbally lash out about the walking pace.

Rear of the march: “MIKE CHECK! WAIT! SLOW DOWN!”

Front of the march: “WE CAN’T KEEP STOPPING! COME ON!”

The commands reverse direction, front yelling at rear, then rear at front again.

There is no slowing the fast down nor speeding the slow up, with the march continuing to gradually separate after each break stop. It simply hurts to halt because walking at one’s own pace best numbs the foot pains that everyone is experiencing. A number of impromptu assemblies are held concerning this issue but the consensus decision to hold a tight march proves impossible to achieve. Solidarity remains, though, with the front always stopping to wait before the rear is out of sight. Some marchers continue to be disturbed by this separation while others either consider it a non-issue or refrain from comment. As for the public’s perception, they continue to cheer or jeer as usual, with nobody ever questioning the gaps between marchers. And so a status quo is understood: if we can still see each other then we remain in solidarity, otherwise regroup.

Night falls. A patchy fog of melancholy begins to lift when the first New Brunswick supporter meets us a couple miles before the city center. Riding what’s best described as an electric tricycle, she carries a protest sign reading, “OCCUPY THE HIGHWAY”.  Spirits are further lifted a few blocks later with a couple more sign-holding supporters, then more, and more. They line the sidewalks of the eastern New Brunswick community called Highland Park, standing in front of restaurants and coffee shops cheering us on. Overestimating our walking pace, we are hours late but they have waited! Many join the walk, reenergizing even the most exhausted marchers.

Then comes a street corner mass of some one-hundred people, mostly Rutgers University students who are about to start their own occupation next Monday. Our two groups merge into one wild entity screaming downhill towards a 4-lane Raritan River crossing bridge. A number of the locals attempt to lead the group onto the bridge roadway but fall back onto the sidewalks when few follow them. They are then successful at taking the roadway on the New Brunswick side of the bridge, leading nearly everyone into the two downtown westbound lanes. More awaiting locals join in, bringing downtown traffic to a standstill. Not a single police car in sight, anywhere.

The screaming crowd circles through the main streets for 30 minutes, their chants driven by at least two megaphones. Most honks are in support, with stuck drivers waving, giving thumbs up and peace signs. Pedestrian traffic also comes to a standstill as feet stop and eyes transfix on the scene occurring on this otherwise ordinary Thursday night in this pretty American city of 50,000. This is what will keep us marching.

Two police cars eventually arrive to put the mass back onto the sidewalks. The students lead us to our downtown dinner host, the upstairs office of a teacher’s union. An assertive older woman comes down and requests a megaphone, apparently surprised at the size of her dinner crowd. With a special motherly tact she informs the mass that it is only possible to accommodate New York marchers. Spread out all through the mass, we emerge one by one to enter the building for our much awaited dinner.

Within minutes our omnivorous marchers passionately consume an entire large foil dish of chicken. Equally hungry but still respecting their personal commitments, the vegetarians and vegans pick through the food selections with much more thought and scrutiny. Outside, the mass of students continues to chant and give speeches, with their excitement audible through open second-floor windows. One thing is certain, Occupy New Brunswick is going to be a success.

The mass takes the streets once again upon our dinner exit, the protestors voices led by a man at the rear with a portable PA system. The most frequent and spirited chant is, “WHO’S STREETS?………OUR STREETS.” Police simply creep behind us in their vehicles, making no orders to clear. The crowd especially targets city buses, screaming in echoed unison, “OUT OF THE BUS AND INTO THE STREETS”. One passenger presses his middle finger up against the windows while most others just stare.

On a stairwell at the Rutgers campus we provide the group with a sample General Assembly(GA), instructing them on the specifics of how assemblies are conducted at Occupy Wall Street. As holding fair and open GA’s is the backbone of all Occupations, we marchers consider such sample assemblies to be of the utmost importance in every community visited. With the New York assembly style having helped bring the movement from that one city to the rest of the world, we teach that method.

During assembly, the woman returns who had earlier met us on an electric tricycle. She’s in a car now, shuttling marchers to her massage studio for free sessions. And for that we definitely salute her. Sleep comes at a partially abandoned industrial area, in a huge old building now containing a music studio. Yesterday the owner decided to offer hosting but had been unable to contact us. His friend had driven to Elizabeth in search of the march, finally obtaining our address from a patrolling police officer. Studio owner and friend, for this we salute you both.

A band uses one of the studio rooms, offering a talented rock serenade that reverberates through the building. The office contains full-sized commercial bathrooms with multiple sinks and toilets, a very useful amenity when hosting groups our size. Nearly half of us sleep in a single empty room measuring some 500 square feet.

……….

March Day 3: New Brunswick to Trenton, New Jersey

Cold morning wind blows stiffly against our protest signs, breaking and bending the weaker displays. A group of several dozen waits awaits us downtown, mostly Rutgers students. At least half join the day’s 27-mile march, bringing the total number to over 50 people. The long roadside stretch of humanity demands attention, bringing out many reporters by midday.

At lunch we struggle not to block the flow of vehicles in the parking lot of a busy sub sandwich shop. Trying their best to respect the business, some marchers direct people and traffic while also eating and conducting interviews at the same time. With on-the-spot cash donations continuing to flow in, the New York marchers are all able to eat delicious subs. Food is also offered to New Brunswick marchers who cannot afford it, but none come forward to request any. They voluntarily spend their own lunch money. Knowing our donation trend is not guaranteed to continue, knowing many of us have no money of our own, we salute these New Brunswick marchers.

Film crews, photographers and print reporters move up and down the line of marchers all afternoon. Two independent female photographers crawl around in forests and fields looking for unique shots as the marchers pass. One of the women is a seasoned war photographer who has spent much time living in Africa during incredibly violent civil conflicts that have occurred there in past years. And now she is here.

A strikingly gorgeous Washington Post blogger remains in our midst for a second full day, walking and living among us in harmony, already treated by all as an equal comrade. She volunteered for this assignment and plans to complete the entire march to DC, carrying a full-sized hiking pack and never expressing any discomfort unless specifically asked. Her curious presence offers unique inspiration, and for this we salute her.

On multiple occasions drivers pull over, emerging from their vehicles in tears, thanking us with long hugs. With a majority of the marchers never having experienced such a powerful social movement in our lifetimes, even within Occupy encampments, we briefly experience a strange and beautiful new outlook on humanity; Hope. Struggling to maintain her emotion in order to speak, one woman says, “I’m driving home from my doctor’s office. I was just diagnosed with cancer this morning and now I just so happen to see you all marching here. It’s a sign. Thank you so much for what you are doing.”

Moved beyond ordinary consciousness, at a loss for words.

The Occupy column moves into historic downtown Princeton at sunset, surprising tourists and shoppers with spirited chants:

“WE ARE……THE 99%”

“TELL ME WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE……THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE”

“BANKS GOT BAILED OUT……WE GOT SOLD OUT”

The day’s overwhelming support carries goodness into the evening hours. Sikhists greet us upon arrival to the city’s beautiful university campus, wrapping turbans onto some marchers and providing us with food and beverages. We hold General Assembly on a wide stone stairwell before beginning the rest of the day’s long journey at 6:30PM. Over ten miles to go.

Still charged with the day’s incredible energy, many of the New Brunswick marchers remain with us on this double-distance day. The highway narrows just west of Princeton as we wind through a forest canopy that often branches over the roadway shoulder. Two supporters pace the rear of the march, slowing down traffic, protecting us from potential disaster. After some miles a police officer also paces the front end, lights flashing psychedelically against colorful autumn foliage.

By late evening the exhaustion of three long march days begins to show in some New York marchers who have had very little sleep. Conflicts emerge, resulting in emergency roadside meetings that bring progress to a standstill. Noticing the lines of traffic building up, the police officer emerges from his vehicle to inquire about our plans. Luckily it’s a slow night on the beat so he’s incredibly patient and friendly, simply accepting our recommendation that he remain pacing at the front. And for this we salute him. His presence spurs the stalled marchers to pursue on towards Trenton.

Entering the city outskirts just before midnight, we encounter a large group of hecklers outside a bar. A majority of them clear out as members of the media converge on the scene, saying things like, “I don’t want to be on YouTube.” A few remain, including two young men of barely drinking age who are especially aggressive. One of the female photographers who had earlier been crawling in the woods stands up for us, vocally expressing her disgust with the men as she snaps numerous close range photos. After hearing of our plan to stay overnight at Occupy Trenton, the tallest of the two hecklers offers a mock chant, “OCCUPY OCCUPY TRENTON!”, which his buddies repeat. One of the marchers again repeats the new chant, yelling it down the block. The heckler turns to his friends, “HAHAHAHA, he said it, hahahaha…..”.

A sizable crowd then appears across the street at what appears to be a large fraternity house, yelling the most common jeer of them all;

“GET A JOB!”

Some marchers yell back with a favorite new response that has just developed among us during the course of this march, “DON”T BE THAT GUY!”. First heard from panhandlers at Occupy Wall Street, the phrase now has an important new meaning;

We the marchers and anyone supporting us feels that this is the most important job in the world – saving it.

*

Seeing potential violence, the police escort steps out of his vehicle, “Clear the sidewalk or I’m going to start taking names.”

Although negative, the heckler encounter proves to have a ying and yang affect, again energizing the tired as we continue on into the great town of Trenton. Morale turns again to pure joy in a very low income neighborhood that some supporters had warned us about. Four men appear in the street wearing full American Revolutionary War uniforms. They march side by side singing Yankee Doodle as we fall into march behind them, joining in the song with voices and whistling. It is a moment that none of us will ever forget.

The soldiers march us some blocks to the 150-foot Trenton Battle Monument, commemorating the pivotal battle that George Washington and his troops fought here in 1776. This victory of the Continental Army was against all odds and inspired the morale and reenlistment that eventually defeated the British. The four uniformed soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder, backs to the massive monument, describing the battle as the Occupy marchers sit before them like storytime children.

Their message is this; the Continental Army did for this country then as this social movement can do for it now- tyranny once again reigns and a great force of human spirit is rising up again to free the people.

The soldiers’ final command, “OCCUPY!”

This time it shall be global. This time we shall secure our future not just as a nation but as one human race.

*

Caddy-corner to the battle monument is Occupy Trenton, a collection of well-spaced tents set upon an open grassy park. Bonfire flames leap high, reflecting tears that flow among the marchers as they embrace their Trenton brethren.

SHALL SUCH BEAUTY SPREAD THIS GLOBE AND CHANGE US ALL FOREVER.


Quick Sun night update/Occupy Trenton greeting

It’s Sun night, we arrived at Occupy Philly tonight to an awesome greeting. I sat down planning on getting to work but it’s def not happening – too tired. I did just want to put something up here so that anyone that only checks this site knows we’re alive. We have tomorrow off from walking (WOW) and most of my day with be spent updating the site/tending to a backlog of internet-related tasks we haven’t been able to do while marching.

Here is our epic greet from Trenton for those who haven’t seen it:

This march has been amazing so far, we’ll let you all know more tomorrow.


March Day 2 – Elizabeth to New Brunswick, NJ

At 4:30AM we deliver two green ceramic cups of hot coffee to the two police officers staking out our host’s home in an Elizabeth city squad car. The driver appears asleep until the passenger nudges him. The window rolls down to reveal an expression of blank surprise, eyes coming into focus on the steaming green cups. With a sudden waking moment of comprehension the driver accepts the coffee, spoons and sugar packets. He mutters a perplexed “thank you”. Our host Ken replies, “You’re welcome. Just set the cups on the porch later if you would. Good night.” We stroll back to the house in silence.

The kitchen is alive with aromas as the marchers shuffle past one another in our personal morning routines. Ken rests himself in the outdoor jacuzzi with a Coors light in hand. Our estimated morning prep time of one hour proves far off, actually turning out to be over two hours. We’re all finally packed up in the front yard together at 10:30AM.

Three police cars pull up to the house. “It was funny that the police car sat in front of the house all night”, says one of our Romanian-American marchers to a cop in a white dress shirt. On the back of his head is the same Guy Fawkes mask he left Manhattan with. “Oh, you think that’s funny huh?”, the cops replies, instantly ending the conversation. “We took your officers coffee last night”, I continue. “Oh, thanks, that was very sweet of you”, says the cop with his eyes turned away from me.

Four police vehicles block off all traffic at major Elizabeth intersections as we near crosswalks. Random well-wishers emerge from vehicles, homes and businesses, some handing out cash. Twenty dollars, fourty, fifty……..eventually a grand total of over $300 for the day! Until today we had considered the value of this march to lie in outreach, but now it appears we may also serve as fundraisers for the Occupy movement. Amazing.

The first signs of exhaustion fatigue begin to appear by noon. One of our medics sits slumped in a parking lot up against a convenience store wall, “I can’t go on. I’m gonna have to meet up with you all tonight.” Messages are sent out to certain members of our online audience who have offered to help in just such situations. Arrangements are made for a human delivery, the group marches on.

Many marchers are visibly uncomfortable by lunchtime, but yet another group of well-wishers is there at just the right moment to replenish us, physically and emotionally. A group of young families are waiting in a park with sandwiches, fruit and candy. This is the All-American crowd; big minivans and little babies in the comfy middle-class suburbs of New York City.

Two girls of no older than 8 years greet us with child-sized protest signs, standing under a shower of falling brightly colored leaves. A little boy approaches with another sign. The moms and a dad greet us with same level of enthusiasm, having arranged our lunch spread. Occupy Wall Street is no longer just the domain of lower income classes. The power for real change, a true global change, shows a bit more of itself with each passing day.

Middle class this is our plea to you: Occupy your public spaces if even for just those minutes that you take your children to the park each day. Make a sign with your children and take them out to play. They will someday thank you with all their hearts.

……

It pains us not to be able to stay up all night and write in great detail about all the amazing acts of solidarity and kindness witnessed every day, but we also realize that some rest is required to keep the march going.  You and we are together finding great motivation in this journey, so we would be doing everyone a terrible disfavor by blindly pushing ourselves to the point of collapse. We vow to compose the missing parts of our daily story into a free e-book a week after the march has been completed.

We end tonight’s broadcast with this:

Dear World,

Your cheers from every corner of this beautiful blue earth are inspiring hundreds of thousands to once again love who we are as individuals and what we are as one united human race. You Laugh, We Laugh – Your Cry, Our Cry. Your free flowing support, both through technological and personal encounters, continuously leaves us in moments of humble speechlessness and raw unrestrained joy, all in the same breaths. You are each of us, all of us, and the grand ancient emotion of enlightenment could be reborn once again to bring peace for our world. Do not let your joy fade, for with this age humanity can begin to turn away from a future of annihilation and towards one of exploring this great mysterious universe together. Now could be our last chance. Let us not throw our gift of life away.…..Use your voice. Use your silence. Use yourself. Occupy.

.

Click Image for Full Size

March Day 1 – Liberty Plaza to Elizabeth, NJ

Approximately 20 people had committed to this march as of Tuesday evening. Even as of late this morning(Wednesday), hours before the march is set to start, many marchers have no knowledge of the media frenzy springing up all over the world. Crawling out of our dew-covered tents, exhausted from another night of Manhattan noise, excitement still shines brightly through tired voices. To quote one marcher, “This is going to be the most awesome thing I’ve ever done even if just 3 of us go.”

By 10AM, already being hunted down by international reporters throughout the Liberty Plaza encampment, we all stand in awe behind the great global power of this movement. By noon there are 25 confirmed marchers assembled underneath the bright red steel beam structure at the southeast corner of the park. A reporter mob of twice that number battles one another for the best shots in the very confined spaces of a stairwell. None of us has ever experienced anything like this, now feeling as if we have just stepped onto the red carpet to receive an Oscar. Some marchers seem to be left speechless, surely to the great dismay of this media army who outnumbers us 2-to-1.

Last minute marchers include a man with no shoes and another man carrying only a Guy Fawkes mask. The mass of well-wishers marching with us to the ferry terminal is so great that at least one marcher looses his way and will have to rejoin us later via public transit. A fleet of NYPD motorcycles joins in as we pass along the perimeters of Ground Zero. A dozen remaining reporters fight rolling waves to get group shots on the ferry to New Jersey. A new batch of police is there waiting for us on the Jersey shore, politely asking that we please move through the city before the schools close.

The number of well-wishers and reporters slowly dwindles through the afternoon, leaving just two reporters by early evening. Local cops hand us off to one another at each jurisdictional border, with 1 to 4 police vehicles always following or leading. Marching through historic downtown Newark and other areas with many pedestrians, we chant popular Occupy slogans and make up a few new ones also.

Public support is absolutely amazing, with horns honking and hands waving almost constantly. A river barge captain even blows his fog horn while the crew cheers on deck as we cross a bridge. Bone shaking semi truck horns are at times nonstop, with all commercial truck drivers seeming to relate very strongly with the Occupy movement.

Many people have heard about this march on last night’s news. Negative comments are far and few in between, less than 1%. One onlooker yells, “Lets kill the flag holder” as we pass through a government housing project. He is referring to either the lead marcher who carries an American flag or a rear marcher who carries a “corporate” American flag. One male motorist yells, “Get a job” and another screams, “Go home!”. In none of these cases did any marcher express any concern for our safety, considering that a cop car was always within earshot.

A police cruiser collides with a black SUV in a pedestrian crossing just as we step out into the roadway. Pieces of the cop’s bumper land within feet of us as the black SUV slides sideways through the crosswalk. Another freak near-accident happens when a marcher falls halfway through a manhole cover that is not properly seated. The marcher’s leg is pinned by the heavy steel cover and has to be freed by another marcher, but no serious injury.

The day’s voyage could have been completed soon after sundown had the police not asked us to change our route. A potentially dangerous highway overpass is detoured at a cost of at least 3 extra miles, leaving us to march for hours after dark.

At 8:30 we arrive to the home of tonight’s hosts, arranged via couchsurfing.com. One police car follows us to the house and another is already there waiting. An officer in a white dress shirt stands ominously on the sidewalk, asking to speak with the home owner. Not having considered this type of police action, we’d earlier told a cop the exact address we were headed to.

“Why are you letting these people stay with you?”, “What are you serving for dinner?”, “Can we remain parked in front of your house tonight?”, the better-dressed cop asks in a series of unusual questions to our host.

At this point everyone looses just a bit of patience for this police presence, changing from a stance of politeness to one of mere tolerance. The homeowner informs the cop in white that he is not welcome to park in front of his house. Two police cars remain parked at the end of the street all night long.

The single family dwelling is packed to the brim with marchers. Our host actually lives with his mom and extended family. We had contacted him 3 days ago requesting to arrive with 7 marchers. “Mom, there’s 25 people coming now”, he’d informed her this afternoon. Seeing every single chair and most of the floor space of her entire first level filled with strange strangers, mom simply greets us with a big smile and serves ice tea.

Our couchsurfing host, the son Ken, prepares a pot of hot soup….then another…..then another. He makes his shower available immediately, AND EVEN HIS BIG BACKYARD JACUZZI! After dinner we begin our first-ever marchers’ General Assembly. The meeting is somewhat informal but very smooth, also attended by our host and a young boy, both of whom follow along in the proper format and offer suggestions.

As this text is being composed at 3AM, a group of 3 marchers sits in the kitchen with our host and a roommate as the rest sleep throughout the home and its backyard deck.  Two of us answer the flurry of email and comments while the shoeless man makes a dream catcher out of broken automobile light bulbs, bolts and other things he found along the walk today. He says no shoes all the way to DC and we say more power to him.

OCCUPY EVERYTHING NOW!


Already in news and we haven’t even left yet

Lots of media outlets are all over this thing, some of the news articles are already posted. It blows my mind crazy how fast this thing is taking off!

Salon.com – http://www.salon.com/2011/11/09/occupiers_plan_epic_new_york_to_washington_march/singleton/

The Guardian – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/08/occupy-wall-street-washington-march

 

- Jason


Check out this radio interview with Michael Glazer on KBOO in Portland, OR

http://kboo.fm/node/31987

 

We want to thank everyone for their kind words and support. Some people have suggested we have mailing addresses for people to mail and/or drop of items at the locations we will be arriving in. You can send any package to General Delivery  C/O Michael Glazer (co-organizer for this march) to the post office in any of the towns we’re staying in. Just send us a tweet if you’ve mailed and/or dropped something off so we know to stop by the post office in the morning.

We’re also in the works about setting up a donation/we pay  service to this website and/or occupywallst.org. We have received $3,000 from the OWS General Assembly, but obviously don’t want to refuse any donations-all of the GA money unused (if we raise a lot on our own) will be returned to the OWS General Assembly.

 

Thanks again for…everything!!!!!!

-kelley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


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