In Their Own WordsPosted: February 5, 2012
Information gathered by Ravenna Narizanno-Bronson
Who is occupying Binghamton and why? What could possibly bring people to choose to sleep in tents outside in the freezing cold in protest? Do they have personal connections to the issues? What do occupiers do exactly? What are the best and worst parts? Do they think the media is reporting fairly? What do they want us to know? We asked and here are some answers…
“I’d rather be here than in an apartment. I work for minimum wage and it is so low. If minimum wage was consistent with inflation it would be $13 plus an hour. America was built on democracy but turned into a society that the more money you have the more representation. Last year the CEO of Exxon Mobile oil made over 27 million after taxes I made 12 thousand, maybe. Here at the occupation I help with security. We are a tight community that has become like family. Locally the media has been decent. Large scale news, especially fox is bashing us – calling us unemployed etc.. Washington Post did a study – over 80% of occupiers have jobs.” – Matt A. – Full-time occupier sleeping outside in a tent since day 4.
“I am here to raise awareness of the wealth disparity – that we need to take the money out of politics. – and about fracking. I help maintain this place anyway I can. I talk to a lot of people. Feel we can make the most impact getting private financing out of elections. Get rid of lobbyists. I went to college – couldn’t afford it. The best part to me is knowing that I have more of a chance to be heard than someone who is stuck in their bubble (staying inside in front of tv and computer and taking frustrations out on their family). I was a SERVE PRO worker for $10 per hour – to fix up homes – supervisor does nothing and makes $50 hour! Worst part about being part of the movement is having to sit through people driving by screaming “get a job!” Most of us have jobs. The media is not reporting fairly. This movement is bigger than any one person.” – John S. – Full-time occupier sleeping outside in a tent since day 1.
“Yes I do sleep in a tent out here in Liberty Park Occupying Binghamton. We have a nice community here and everybody has similar views. I am especially against Hydraulic Fracturing – it is not safe. If it was safe the companies would not need waivers from the clean air and water acts. The evidence of how fracking is dangerous is in abundance and freely available. I pitch in here and there with whatever is needed. I help everyone to understand each other, clean up, stand in support, hold signs, march, attend DEC hearings. The best part of being part of this movement is the community. The worst part are the confrontations. I am here in Liberty Park Occupying Binghamton for the people who cannot stay here full-time because they have organized lives that prevent them from doing so. Everyone’s voice and vote counts here.” – Steve P – Full-time occupier sleeping outside in a tent since day 2.
“I am here because I want changes in Medicaid and social security. I want there to be social security and benefits when my kids grow up. I receive medicaid and have been fighting for four years for social security. I have been denied every time even though I am ill. I help with the information booth, donations and public relations. The best part about being part of Occupy is helping everyone get the word spread out and waking people up to what the government is doing to us. There is no bad part – Occupy Binghamton is pretty productive. There are negative people who say “get a job” or “your wasting your time.” I do not think the media is reporting honestly. I would like our own words used as we say – not altered to turn our positive statements into negative ones. We are the 99% and we will be heard!” – Papa John – Full-time occupier sleeping in a tent.
“I oppose fracking. I know it will eventually take millions of lives. I protest, go on marches, pass out flyers, direct people to the information booth, clean up, keep morale going. The best part of being part of Occupy Binghamton is meeting so many different people. Not really a worst part. I do not think the media is reporting fairly. We should all come out and be honest about this situation.” Robert R. – Full-time occupier.
“I am here because of government changes to SSI and SSD. Government wants to cut SSI and SSD checks. I am not doing this for myself, I am doing this for people that are on it and need it. I am here to support. I help with medical, clean up, cooking and whatever they need me for. The best part is the people who give us positive feedback on what we are doing. The worst part is the negative feedback. I do not think the media is reporting fairly. Hopefully everything goes our way and not the way of government and the 1%.” – Panda B. – Full-time occupier.
“I am out here protesting hydrofracturing and I want single payer healthcare. Hydrofracking affects me personally because farmers in Harpursville, Ninevah and the Deposit area are having to sell their gas rights to pay to keep their farms. There are 256 radioactive substances in the fracking fluid. I am a strong believer in solar, hydro and geothermal energy. I help oversee security and am a member of the activism committee. I was nationally banned from Wallmart for bringing in signs on black Friday that read ‘stop mindless spending, consumer greed and capitalism’ The best part of being part of occupy Binghamton is trying to reach out to people and having them realize that within public unity and public financing our government can be fixed. We need to make our world eco-friendly and stop corporate financing. There is no worst part for me. I enjoy every bit of it. The media is not reporting fairly.” Joe D. – Full-time occupier.
“I fully support what the protestors are doing. We have similar political views. Government is corrupt and only does things for money. I am against lobbyists. I am against Fracking. I help organize and play music. The best part about the occupy movement is being out here doing something that means something. I am fighting for a cause. I am fighting for freedom. I do not think the media is reporting fairly.” – Will J. – Part-time occupier.
“I occupy mostly because I am one of those – was middle class people that are now poor. I believe that the average person needs to understand the economics of what is going on – the rich keep getting richer. I am 45 years old and getting offered jobs for the amount I made as a teenager. I cannot live on $8 an hour. I don’t like corporations controlling America. I used to have a mom and pop that got wiped out by corporate. I do a little cleaning, buy some food, hold signs and clean up. I like talking to the curious passerbyers. A lot of people that are comfortable do not realize what would happen if they lost their job. It is terrible. I have been looking since July, holding out for more than minimum wage, so I am unemployed. The best part of the occupy movement is the sense of community with other people who have ended up in similar situations. The people in power and the privileged people have no idea how hard it is to get back up when you have lost everything.” – Greg S. – Part-time occupier.
“I support the cause because I am part of what they are representing. I don’t have much but I give what I can when I can. They represent a lot of concerns I have had for many years. I bring food, water, money, stand in support and engage intellectually. The best part is the people I have met, the intellectual conversations I have had and the political events I have learned about. I am most concerned about the government’s mistreatment of the people and the constitution. I wish I could contribute more. I do not think the media is reporting honestly. I think the media of nowadays can learn some lessons from the protestors about speaking your mind and telling the truth. I would like to see real answers come from the government – jobs created – no more excuses. Congress should get their salaries cut. They don’t need three homes when there are people homeless. They should not have separate social security different than ours. They should stop attacks on education when they need money.” – Dale S – Part-time Occupier.
“I do not believe people should be oppressed for profit. There are completely unjustified massive inequalities of wealth and resources. I was fortunate enough to get a good education. I was coach surfing not that long ago collecting food stamps and Medicaid and am thankful for it. I participate by performing music, holding signs and discussing with others. I am part of a social movement that is happening. We support one another – solidarity. The best part is that I am inspired and encouraged by other’s example. The worst part is the fact that the police and people who are of the 99% themselves will have to decide whether to fire on citizens of their own country. It is structurally impossible for the media to report fairly. Amy Goodman is the only one who does report fairly. I think we need to move to another model of production. Global Corporate Capitalism is an inherently unjust way of distributing resources. I am a communist and I am not afraid to say it.” – Taze – Part-time occupier.
“I don’t live here but I am here every day. I am here to end corporate greed and political corruption. We can exist in a world where everyone can get what they need. We all have a personal connection to these issues. My duties tie in to security. I am always here Friday and Saturday all night watching out for the drunks. The best part about being part of occupy Binghamton is being able to actually communicate with people on an intelligent level. The worst part is the people who come by and poke fun. The media is corporate controlled. They put so much in the paper and on the news that is not true to slander us. Genoa L. Part-time occupier.
“I am here to be part of something big. We must Ban Fracking. It is horrible to me. I sympathize with the people on the street that may have lost their homes. I help with security on Friday and Saturday nights. I also protest and hold signs. The best part of being part of the occupation is meeting new people and making new friends. The worst part is the drunks from the local bars. No the media is not reporting honestly.” Vexsen V. – Part-time occupier.
“I donate blankets, cigarettes, food, and I stand in support. I am part of 99%. There is gonna be a day when you have to take what you believe and put it to use. I am trying to help myself. I support them in whatever way I can. The best part is staying together united as one. The worst part is the cold. Anonymous – Part-time occupier.
“I am here because social justice and inequality are my concerns. The strangle hold corporation have on our politics. I have felt this way for quite some time. I have it good. Been following the occupy movement since inception. I come out and protest, hold signs, help with administrative tasks, attend general assembly meetings, serve on the finance, yurt and information group committees. The best part is the people I have met. The worst part is it is stressful. Mainstream media is not reporting fairly. Alternative media is as accurate as they can be”.
Steve L. – Part-time occupier.
“Peace is very important because Bush and Obama go and start wars. They spend such a large budget on the war effort when our country needs to work on its inner structure of support, educational systems, health care – take care of our own first then others. Why do we send so many of our men and women off to wars and then forget about them? The government does not help as much as they could with jobs and health care. Many of our homeless are veterans. Budget cuts on education affects us all – cannot educate our kids so they can’t get the jobs. Why are so many kids today dropping out of school? So much technology – why don’t we have better ways of using energy for less dollars. Does the war effort hurt? Yes it does. We are spending all the grandkids money.” – Phil and John of Veterans for Peace – Part-timers – Holding sign that reads “We didn’t defend our country so it could attack others”
“War isn’t the solution. We used 911 as an excuse for war. I protest, support and contribute to the occupation but not nearly as much as I ought to. Occupy Binghamton is a huge community of caring socially concerned people. The best part is being able to network with people involved with broader issues and the visibility brought to our Peace Vigil. The worst part is vigiling in the cold. The media is not one unified thing. Often reporters do their best and for whatever reason the powers that be prevent them. Local Fox news here is more likely to report factually. Media in general is not getting it. Huge spider web- we are all connected and justice minded people who care about the issues have to pick and choose.” Ann C. – Part-time occupier holding sign that reads: “We Need Jobs and Education Not War and Military Occupation.”
While the Occupy Binghamton sites have been closed down by the City, the movement has not come to an end. The horribly unequal distribution of wealth that has impoverished millions of Americans has not changed. The Occupy Movement has brought this situation to the forefront around America and will continue to do so. Occupy Binghamton will return in the spring with new vigor and tactics.