The Occupy Chapel Hill “protest” that occurred Wednesday was not exactly a model of what the Occupy Wall Street movement is. In fact it seemed rather aimless, leaderless, and pointless, thus they were not really protesting anything in particular, just generally upset about a variety of issues. I went and interviewed multiple people at the protests, and all of them had different grievances ranging from UNC Chapel Hill spending cuts to a refusal on the part of the US to sign the Rome statute to there not being a guarantee of jobs after college.
One protestor accused President George W. Bush of “[giving] the green light for genocide to continue,” in Sudan. She also had grievances with the Obama administration for escalating the drone attacks in the Middle East and for not doing enough to stop human trafficking. Further, she was heavily critical of the US as a whole for not signing on to the Rome Statute, which would, “[force the US] to cede a portion of its sovereignty” to the International Criminal Court. Also, she blamed the Bush administration for not unilaterally acting in Sudan and the Clinton administration for not unilaterally acting in Rwanda, but she still did not support the Iraq War because it was not a multilateral humanitarian mission. Other grievances from protestors included cuts in funding to specific UNC programs, but no one had any plan to remedy these issues, especially in a recession. Also, there were those whose grievances were much closer to those of the Wall Street protestors. One girl talked about her concern about not having a guaranteed job after college.
While another protestor, who seemed to be one of the organizers, did say that the point of the event was to have an exchange of ideas on ways to solve these problems, and they even claimed to be open to conservative or libertarian solutions (though none were considered throughout the entire event from what I could tell and Carolina Reviews’ own Anthony Dent was blocked from their Facebook page). This however, directly contrasts the Occupy Wall Street protest in Manhattan, which is clearly liberal and progressive in nature. While the Occupy Wall Street protest does not have an official set of demands (there is an amusing and disturbing unofficial list posted on their website at the link below, however), the Wall Street protests seem to be focused almost exclusively on jobs and a frustration with the “super-rich” on Wall Street. Specifically, both protests seem to be upset about the corporate bailouts. This is a sentiment most capitalists can understand, but clearly the protestors are not upset about the bailouts for the same reasons that conservatives and libertarians may be upset about them. They seem to believe that the money should have been spent on workers or students.
Overall, the aimlessness of the Occupy Chapel Hill protests will likely be its doom. A movement without a purpose will not be able to last long. The one on Wall Street is particularly disturbing, however, because if the unofficial demands are even an indication of the overall sentiment, then the far left may be gearing up to try and start its own grass-roots movement to pull the Democrats to even more progressive policies (think Tea Party of the left). If you think Washington is polarized now, wait until movements like this get official demands and make Kucinich look mainstream.
Link to unofficial list of demands:
Oh! And slightly related, weren’t these the same progressives who wanted a more “civil public discourse”. Now they are talking occupations… Just a thought.