Students, minorities and homeless youth Prove they too are the 99%

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Occupy Wall Street movement embraces many causes.

The New School, one of New York City’s most famous universities, took to the streets recently in an a student organized Occupy Wall Street march. Hundreds of angry students walked towards fifth avenue, most carrying signs expressing their grievances. Signs read things like, “We are the 99%” and “Students are the future, unless they have so much debt they crumble.” The mood was an angry one, and the NYPD didn’t help much.

The march poured out onto 5th Ave. One angry, self-identified lesbian student yelled at an NYPD officer who was running into her with his motorbike, “You can’t bully us anymore!” Male students held hands, and bi-sexual students of both sexes helped to hold the line as the police tried to shove them onto the sidewalk.

Although this was not a march for queer rights, it was a march for human rights. A lack of human rights has been felt by the queer community for years, and it only seems fitting that young queer men and women would now be at the front of the movement to acquire human rights for all of that angry 99%.

The New School has a long history of fighting for the human rights of others. Faculty from the New School were present in several major marches of the 1964 civil rights movement as well as openly supporting Stonewall. It makes sense that a university that has classes like “Queer Studies” and “Psychology and Homosexuality” would be a place for young queer people to come and learn. A few days after the march down 5th  Ave, three students of The New School were arrested for protesting by the NYPD. New School president David Van Zant released this statement, “This morning [October 14th] I learned that three New School students were arrested at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. I share your great concern about their well-being. We have reached out to these students to offer support and are attempting to learn more about their current safety and status. The occupation on Wall Street continues to inspire many members of our community. Everyone should have the right to express views in an orderly and respectful manner. Whatever the circumstances, I urge everyone to make their safety, and the safety of others, a priority.”

Another march involving LGBT Youth was met with alleged police brutality. “The Stop and Frisk” march, which took place on October 21st in Harlem, was centered around the racial, and economic bias used to justify random stop and frisks by the NYPD. The movement was openly supported by Occupy Wall Street. As the march reached the 28th precinct, 33 people, mostly blacks and latinos with no police record were carried off in handcuffs. (Out In Jersey has previously editorialized regarding subject of the Stop and Frisk, expressing our dissatisfaction with the NYPD for being openly racist and classist.) A press release from Occupy Wall Street summed it up when they said, “How can we truly stand as the 99 percent, if we don’t stand with the people of Harlem?”

The queer homeless youth have felt the sting of police stop and frisks. Sasha Washington, a client of New Alternatives for homeless youth said, “The police always go to the pier, to union square, and to Fort Tryon Park. They know that’s where we are, and they don’t stop the nice white man walking down with his name brand shit. They stop the dykes, the trans people, and the homos.”

The Ali Forney center organized a march to Union Square on October 24th , fighting for more beds for people like Sasha. A newsletter from the center said, “Last night’s rally was a huge success! Hundreds showed up in Union Square to show their support for homeless LGBT youth and to demand more beds.”

In Trenton, a much smaller but no less dedicated band of Occupy demonstrators have taken up residence at the elegant little World War II memorial park opposite the State House. The response of the State Police has varied from ordering them to remove tents, sleeping bags and tables to, as of October 28, a more laid-back attitude. Anthony Edward Salter, who had been at the site for a week when interviewed on the 28th, stated his purpose was not to advocate any particular cause but to “facilitate the right of free speech through peaceful assembly.” Mr. Salter reported the Trenton demonstrators were prepared for cold weather and had planned for warm, ski-type clothing and gloves. He further said the over-whelming response of the public had so far been positive and supportive.

Mike Motchnik, a recent graduate of Mercer County College, observed “it’s great that so many walks of life can come together and peaceably assemble…this ia gathering of people who have a lot on their minds and their plates. I’m here for my friends, my family and my future children.”

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators across the nation and in many parts of the world have expressed similar views – a concern not only for the welfare of fellow citizens now but for generations yet to come in a country that many feel is increasingly becoming a police state run for the benefit of corporate interests, indifferent to the needs of the poor, the dispossessed and the “different.”

 

Occupy Wall Street movement embraces many causes.

The New School, one of New York City’s most famous universities, took to the streets recently in an a student organized Occupy Wall Street march. Hundreds of angry students walked towards fifth avenue, most carrying signs expressing their grievances. Signs read things like, “We are the 99%” and “Students are the future, unless they have so much debt they crumble.” The mood was an angry one, and the NYPD didn’t help much.