Reflections On Occupy Delaware

Filed in Delaware by on October 18, 2011

On Saturday I attended the first ever Occupy Delaware rally at Rodney Square in Wilmington. The first thing I noticed was that it was crawling with police. I’ve never actually seen so many police in one place before. The police were actually very respectful, they did not interfere in the rally, even though the rally did not get a permit.

As can be expected from a leaderless, semi-organized movement it was a bit of a zoo. No one seemed clear what to do. People gathered with their signs, speaking with each other in small groups. The crowd was actually fairly diverse, both in age and race but probably skewed to the younger side. Finally the crowd started marching around the square, carrying signs and chanting (“This is what democracy looks like” was my favorite.)

After marching around the square a few times, different people in crowd spoke. Some speakers were great and some were just strange. Everyone who wanted to speak had a chance. My impression was that people felt a bit awkward, they weren’t professional protesters. My estimate is that at the height of the rally there were probably around 200 people there. Perhaps more if you count the people who filtered in and out during the 4-hour period.

When the Occupy Wall Street protests first started I was highly skeptical. What could this group do, especially since it was so amorphous that it was difficult to tell what it stood for. I’m coming around to the idea that not being specific may be one of its strengths (and could still be its fatal weakness). Any movement representing 99% of the population is going to be somewhat incoherent. I think Occupy Wall Street has already won, especially if we keep seeing articles about income inequality and ones like this one: ‘Occupy’ Protest About Standing Up To Reaganism.

I think this is an exciting time in history. We really are on the cusp of a big change, and we could go in either direction. The OWS protests are a sign that perhaps we can pull ourselves back from the brink. At least the nation is finally, finally having a discussion on wealth distribution and widening economic inequality – I feel like I’ve waited all my life for this to happen. I hope that this energy for change, systemic change continues to grow. I’m no expert, but in my humble opinion the protest need to move to the next level, they need to pull in people who can’t or won’t attend marches but give them some concrete actions to take – like supporting specific policy prescriptions.

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Opinionated chemist, troublemaker, blogger on national and Delaware politics.

Comments (44)

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  1. puck says:

    It seems like only yesterday we were debating whether it was OK or not for Obama to capitulate to the 1% in the interest of getting something done. We never really resolved that debate here, but it looks like Obama and OWS have leapfrogged over our little quibble and left us all in the dust.

    I am acutely aware that I had absolutely nothing to do with the genesis of OWS, so I am trying to respectfully stand back and let the kids do their thing, as much as I want to offer advice and criticism. But they will have my moral support, my presence if I have the time, and my money if they need it.

    And looking at the Delaware photos, they’re not all kids. But I think the mothership NYC protests are as much an overdue youth movement as they are an economic protest.

    Maybe at least the intensity of the debates in the left blogosphere helped create the environment for OWS and helped inform them of the economic issues, and pointed out the correct villains – I don’t know.

  2. Jason330 says:

    As dkos points out this morning, OWS managed to do something in one month that Democrats could not do in years: shift the media debate away from cuts and deficits and towards a discussion on income inequality and jobs.

    Democrats couldn’t shift the debate because Bill Clinton and Tom Carper sold the party of FDR to Wall Street outright. Carper is a lost cause, so we have to keep pressure on Carney and Coons to ensure that they keep the interests of Delawareans at heart.

  3. Auntie Dem says:

    There could be hope yet. As puck says, this is still forming and it needs to be led by the young people in this country, they have the most at stake in bringing about change. We “wrinklies” were there on Saturday, and we’ll support them when they want us. But this is organic and the movement will find it’s own way.

    Did you see the sign at one of the protests that said: “We’re Here — We’re Unclear — Live With It” ?

  4. Jason,

    I think it was Bob Herbert that wrote that OWS has accomplished in 1 month what the Democrats haven’t done in decades.

    The fact that OWS comes from the people is the best thing about it. Politicians move to where the energy is. For 30 years, it’s been mostly on the right. Now a renewal is starting on the left and it is long overdue. OWS should be thrilled that Democrats have started using their language. That means they are winning. The main thing IMHO is not to lose the energy and to hold politicians accountable for their votes.

  5. Dana Garrett says:

    UI, great analysis.

  6. pandora says:

    Nice work, UI. Thanks for covering this.

  7. puck says:

    Coons has the same economic positions as Carper and Carney, but he is the worst offender, only because he is smart enough to know better. But he is also a 1%’er himself. Coons is staunchly for the repatriation tax holiday, and Bowles Simpson is his “ideal” tax reform. And I wasn’t there but based on the News Journal account, his PDD appearance sounded a lot like hippie-punching.

  8. mediawatch says:

    Puck has nailed Coons dead-on. Not only smart enough to know better but twice the speaker than either Carper or Carney. All three of these guys could pass for moderate Republicans. Where is the bearded Marxist when we really need him?

  9. Frank Knotts says:

    Could you guys help out a free makrket capitalist to understand? When speaking of wage equallity, what is it you are looking for? Should every person earn exactly the same amount? Should a guy working as a lineman for a power company make the same as a woman working in an office? Even though the lineman’s job is more dangerous? And by the way, who gets to set this arbitrary equal wage? Since you seem to be opposed to market forces deciding on what an individual should be able to earn, are you in favor of some government wonk board setting the miracle wage? What is the incentive for people to work harder or to gain more education to better their situation? If they will only earn the same wage as everyone else, what is the driving force that will move them to higher goals?

  10. Geezer says:

    Nobody said anything about wage equality. The discussion was about inequality. Reducing inequality is not the same thing as eliminating it.

    The crux of the issue is that the people on Wall Street are pocketing a lot of money for simply moving money around. We think they should earn less for doing so.

  11. Keep knocking the hell out of that strawman, Frank.

    I can only speak for myself but I would like to progressivity returned to our tax system. I would also like to see wealth taxed the same as actual work. I’d also like for the wealthy to stop trying to raid out social safety net.

  12. Socialistic ben says:

    Whats the incentive to work harder and get more education if all it gets you is a mountain of debt, NO guarantee at all at a better job, stigma in this country for being “educated”? Frank, if you support free market capitalism like you claim to, you should be against mega corporations having UNELECTED power over the lives of people who dont choose to do business with them. YOUR MORTGAGE which you bought in good faith could be bought and sold by this hucksters without your permission, bundled into junk bonds and totally devalued. is THAT your vision of the free market? Do you approve of companies like Exxon and GE giving away enough in bonuses quarterly than whole towns make in a year and NEVER PAYING ANY TAXES? Are you ok with the government giving WEALFARE to oil companies ON TOP OF their record profits annually? How about the FACT that prices for food, housing, electricity…. essentials continue to rise while 99% of wages either stay the same…. or in the case of the most important jobs… teachers, emergency personnel,,,,, get cut by s much as 20%?

  13. Jason330 says:

    There are practical reasons for the super-wealthy to be in favor of returning to progressivity in taxation. Markets value economic and social stability and those things are undermined by wage inequality.

    We are moving toward a third world income distribution picture, so the super-wealthy should expect the third world to intrude on their lives more an more frequently

    Of course, as long as the super-wealthy have a willing corpse of dupes like our man Frank, they can keep a lid on some of the insatiability, and use the Frank’s of the world to build higher and higher walls around their wealth.

  14. Socialistic ben says:

    Either you absolutely dont believe the way things actually are…. or you DO understand how things actually work and hope and pray for the day you can slash thousands of workers jobs and benefits and poison the environment so you can give yourself a bigger annual bonus. which is it? are you ignorant or evil?

  15. They need an electric fence and a moat with alligators.

  16. Socialistic ben says:

    moat on fire… fire-proof crockagators with lazers mounted on their heads.

  17. cassandra m says:

    Could you guys help out a free makrket capitalist to understand?

    When one shows up here, we’ll be delighted to explain. We’ll let you know when that person gets here, because the experience of a real free market capitalist will be quite new to you, Frank.

  18. flutecake says:

    Here was my reflection on OCCUPY… posted on your Sunday Open Thread, here.

    October 16: Flutecake said: I took some pictures at Rodney Square in Wilmington yesterday. I’ve never been there before & it was a lovely day. And there was this protest thing…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/flutecake/sets/72157627901195932/

    All these BANKSTERs’ empty corporate offices watched as the ardent protesters marched around the square. As I was leaving, I snapped the lone lady police person guarding the gates at B of A (unmolested- this photo is in that set).

    I’ve said this on your blog before; IF you bank at a corporate bank, time to move your money to a CREDIT UNION. Apparently, there is a movement to do this enmasse on Nov. 5th (Remember, remember the 5th of November – Guy Fawkes Day in the UK & hero of the V for Vendetta people) – alas, I like most movements against the plutocracy but that is a Saturday and not the best banking day of the week. Do it as soon as you can, I think.

  19. Socialistic ben says:

    but be careful… citi had a bunch of people arrested who wanted nothing more than to take their business elsewhere.

  20. John Manifold says:

    Gerret Copeland sez his parvenu neighbors will stop investing if their taxes rise.

    http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20111016/NEWS/110160347/Delaware-sounding-off-on-taxes-for-wealthy

    I’m glad he and Tania endow the Grand [Richard Thompson tomorrow night]. Mr C brings us great wine, and has been a far superior public citizen than his wastrel brother Mottsy [or most of the rest of us], but he can’t really believe this. When Mr. Copeland’s forebears were creating Better Living Through Chemistry, the tax rates were far higher than anyone is currently advocating.

  21. Francie says:

    We (my husband & 2 daughters) arrived at Rodney Square at 1, at that time the crowd was smaller 30-40 people. Several people spoke thru a
    paper mega phone. I took pictures of the crowd, signs, speakers. We marched around the Bank of America block of buildings & chanted..
    We are the 99 %, this is our street, etc. There was a heavy police
    presence for such a small group, amazing. There was also a body-builder competition in the park, so some of the crowd were there for that event. I hope there will be more events in Delaware & more people turn out because it’s important. Rodney Square is a really lovely park & despite the turn out, we were glad we participated.

  22. cassandra m says:

    Gerret Copeland is largely a liar. He will do with his money what his family’s money managers say to do with the money.

    And people with money don’t just stuff it into mattresses. You can take *that* to the bank.

  23. Sue J says:

    Income equality means income of all groups rising at the same rate. Since 1979, the growth rate for incomes for the top few percent have accelerated while the rate for the rest – the 99ers – has remained flat. The proportion of wealth has dramatically shifted. We want it to be more equitable. Trickle down did not work, it made the rich richer and the poor poorer, and we have continued to move in that unfortunate direction.
    Oh and great piece UI !

  24. Zafo Jones says:

    https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration/

    From here forward, don’t let it be said that the “Occupy” movement doesn’t know what it wants.

    Twenty demands. Twenty objective, achievable, feasible, reasonable, actionable demands.

  25. Socialistic ben says:

    wait a minute…. you mean this movement doesn’t end at dressing up in costumes, carrying “witty” signs and getting on cable news? im out.

    damn, i was really hoping this was the leftybag party.

  26. puck says:

    The movement needs to get behind specific legislation. The problem is getting 99%-er bills introduced into Congress. At this time, only 1%-er legislation can be conceivably introduced in Congress.

    The Senate is a porous filter and Obama is an unreliable backstop for preventing 1%-er legislation from becoming law.

    In my view, the biggest victory for the 99% would be to convince Obama to abandon his Trojan Horse “tax reform” and go back to his previous and superior tax reform plan – let the Bush tax cuts expire. This goal is eminently achievable, requiring only that Obama wins his election, and vetoes any attempt to derail the expiration.

  27. Socialistic ben says:

    I dont think Obama will be the president when this legislation actually comes to vote. Either he is defeated and it energizes the progressive majority, or he wins, most of them get complacent and the movement dies untlwe have a republican presdient.
    Consider this. (and i know how weasely this sounds) The new reality for progressive legislation is that is always falls short of the “goal”, but SOMETHING gets passed. If we decide there are 1 or 2 things we REALLY want, we need to ask for 20…. THAT way, the Conservashits feel like they’ve won when we “compromise” away 80% of what we were originally asking for.

  28. puck says:

    I don’t agree with the demand for a sweeping reform of the tax code, with its emphasis on loopholes. Obama is single-handedly responsible for shifting the debate away from raising rates and toward loopholes. Loopholes are a red herring in the tax debate, and it would be unfortunate if the OWSers follow Obama down that rathole.

    There is an argument for closing loopholes on the corporate side and modestly lowering corporate income tax. But that is where it ends.

    The tax code is good enough; it’s the rates that need to be rebalanced and made more progressive. A full expiration of the Bush tax cuts would do it. Then we can focus our energies on fighting for a middle class tax cut, an easier battle.

  29. Frank Knotts says:

    Okay, so you have made your case for the need to somehow bring wages or wealth into a less “un-equal” state. Who gets put in charge of it? Government? You have made the point that it is government that has brought us to this point. Or is it just Republicans? Seems as if some here have lost their love for Pres. Obama. How does government go about the process of equalizing wages, or wealth? more regulations? Just take the wealth at the point of a gun? What stops those in charge from just turning around and doing the same thing to those they have taken the wealth from? Remember, “we are all equal,it’s just that some are more equal”.
    Have you even considered that it is the over regulation that allows for some to amass wealth while others can’t? That it is the regulations that form the loop holes.And that with less regulations, everyone would have a better chance?
    The OWS people are basically asking government to stop being government. But while the government is at it, could they correct the mess they have made, by creating more of what created the mess.
    And for the record, I have written on my own blog post many times, no subsidies for anything. This includes oil, farms, green energy,states, no subsidies for anything. Let the market decide and let the people work as hard as they will and let them be as successful as they can be. But get government out of the business of deciding winners and losers.
    It sounds like you guys and gals over here have been paying more attention to the TEA movement then you would like to admit. You are almost there. Now you just need to realize that government is not the solution to your problems, government is the creator of your problems.

  30. puck says:

    No, Frank. Government always makes rules for how income is distributed. Currently the redistribution favors the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

    We currently have a set of rules that causes money earned by labor to flow uphill and accumulate as wealth. That wealth is now a political risk to America. The political stability and moderation of a nation depend on a large middle class. But the wealthy are now engaged in liquidating the assets of the middle class in a giant fire sale (homes, pensions, 401(k)s, etc. )

    We need to change the rules so there is less tilt and more of the money that is earned by labor stays with labor.

    Tax policy, trade policy, and collective bargaining rights are the place to start, along with pro-consumer reforms. Not your “wage control” strawman.

  31. Geezer says:

    “Who gets put in charge of it? Government?”

    Yes, Frank. You may recall from your Constitution that the government is made up of “We the People.”

    “You have made the point that it is government that has brought us to this point.”

    No, Frank. Government under the control of special interests, mostly corporate interests, has brought us to this point.

    “How does government go about the process of equalizing wages, or wealth?”

    Tax policy.

    “What stops those in charge from just turning around and doing the same thing to those they have taken the wealth from?”

    You mean, other than common sense and our entire system of government?

    “Have you even considered that it is the over regulation that allows for some to amass wealth while others can’t?”

    I’m unsure what you’re talking about. Could you give an example?

    “with less regulations, everyone would have a better chance?”

    Again, what are these “regulations”? If you’re talking about environmental regulations, no, everyone would not have a “better chance” at clean air and water. The better question is, Why are you against companies cleaning up their waste products?

    “The OWS people are basically asking government to stop being government.”

    In what way? By listening to their concerns even though they’re not issued as “demands”?

    “for the record, I have written on my own blog post many times, no subsidies for anything. This includes oil, farms, green energy,states, no subsidies for anything. Let the market decide and let the people work as hard as they will and let them be as successful as they can be. But get government out of the business of deciding winners and losers.”

    The West tried this for centuries. We call it the “Dark Ages.”

    “you just need to realize that government is not the solution to your problems, government is the creator of your problems.”

    Quite the contrary, Frank. You need to realize the private sector is not the solution to your problems, it is the creator of your problems. Neither statement is true, but mine is a helluva lot closer to it than yours.

    It’s also a helluva position for someone who claims to revere the Constitution to take. You don’t even believe its opening three words are true.

  32. Joe Cass says:

    Occupy Delaware
    10/19/2011 7pm
    1183 UAW hall
    698 Old Baltimore Pike
    (across from Albe Drive)
    (north of rt 72, south of Salem Church Rd)

  33. I would like to outsource all my future smackdowns to Geezer.

  34. Socialistic ben says:

    geezer ftw, Im very interested to see if frank can respond to that.

  35. puck says:

    Frank is even smacked down by his old blogmaster.

  36. Frank Knotts says:

    Geezer says,”Yes, Frank. You may recall from your Constitution that the government is made up of “We the People.”

    Is not the current government composed of “We The People”? Then why are the OWS dirtbags upset? If it was the government of “We The People” who got us to this point, shouldn’t they be willing to go along?

    “No, Frank. Government under the control of special interests, mostly corporate interests, has brought us to this point”. Is it only you geezer who gets to define what is a special interest? Aren’t the people in the OWS no bath zones a special interest? Aren’t the illegal immigrants among them asking for the Dream Act to be passed, a special interest group? But that’s different isn’t it Geezer? Those are your special interest groups.

    “Tax policy.” Geezer’s answer to everything! But I agree, we can solve many of our mutual problems through tax policy. By lowering and simplifying.

    I asked, “What stops those in charge from just turning around and doing the same thing to those they have taken the wealth from?”

    Geezer answered, “You mean, other than common sense and our entire system of government?”

    The same common sense and entire system of government that brought us to where we are? Come on Geezer you can do better than that. This is where you usually call me stupid and disapear.

    “Have you even considered that it is the over regulation that allows for some to amass wealth while others can’t?”

    “I’m unsure what you’re talking about. Could you give an example? ”

    Let’s start with mandating the use of alternative energy sources by power companies.

    “It’s also a helluva position for someone who claims to revere the Constitution to take. You don’t even believe its opening three words are true.”

    That’s where you are wrong. I do not revere the Consitution, I respect it. Go back and read the manifesto of the dirtbags, https://sites.google.com/site/the99percentdeclaration/

    Now, can you pick out how many of those “request” go against the Consitution?
    The problem the liberals and Geezer have, is they think only they make up , “We The People”.

  37. Don Ayotte says:

    Geezer
    “The crux of the issue is that the people on Wall Street are pocketing a lot of money for simply moving money around. We think they should earn less for doing so.”

    We agree on this also. That’s four things we agree on in less than two weeks

  38. Geezer says:

    I keep hearing hoofbeats in the sky.

  39. think123 says:

    It’s not just the little guy who is sickened by the corruption of Wall Street bankers. Citigroup just got hit with a protest where it counts – A $285 million dollar fine for misleading investors. Over at Goldman Sachs high powered protestors accompanied by high paid lawyers cost Goldman $550 million for misleading investors. One of the world’s largest pension funds, Dutch ABP, protested Bank Of America for $90 million claiming they were swindled. All the big money movers on Wall Street are under siege for swindling investors. Billions have been recovered from the Wall Street swindlers, hundreds of millions in fines have been paid. Much more is coming. The conservative state of Virginia is suing Bank Of New York Mellon for $1 billion for “unconscionable” conduct saying the Bank Of New York was cheating them handling state’s $54 billion dollar pension fund.

    At the base of this mountain of corruption is the Occupy Wall Street movement. People know the deck is stacked by forces beyond their control working against the interest of the average citizen. The protester in Rodney Square may not have a lawyer or a case, but we all know something is wrong. The proof is all the lawsuits, all the fines paid, all the corruption exposed. Nobody is making things up. All you have to do is google “bank sued for fraud”. It’s an epidemic.

    The average family gets zero interest for savings in the bank, while the folks who run the bank make 1000 times the average wage. The Wall Street bankers voice says do not take a dime in tax from us, do not try to regulate us. The Wall Street voice says take more from a school teacher, the prison guard. So sure, it’s hard to articulate this kind of injustice. Hard to express this vague feeling of tyranny at the hands of the private sector. Hard to know what to say about capitalist extremism. What can you write on a sign other than “stop the greed”.

  40. Anon says:

    At last night’s meeting (bigger than the first), 2 resolutions were passed. Preparing for the actual Occupation means we start collecting items. Blankets, water,(save your milk containers) sanitizers, tents, etc. Each person should bring enough water, food etc to last a week. We need some nurses, and medical people, musicans, artists. We need poster board, and pens so people can make their own sign on site. Things will move along faster now, as one of the resolutions gives the Committees the abilty to actively come up with plans and bring them to the meeting next Wednesday night for a vote by the General Assembly.

  41. leif says:

    Seems as if there is multiple Occupydelaware websites going around. I fear this may cause some confusion to what the message out the movement is about and who the actual messenger is. I hope a split may not be surfacing.

  42. anon says:

    I hope even more Occupydelaware websites spring up. Everyone loses if the Delaware movement becomes about ego and who is most important vs. the varied issues the people of Delaware bring to the table. The more people and groups involved the better.