By Bach Tong
The phrase “We are the 99%” has become familiar to folks who travel by City Hall or pay attention to the local news. Occupy Philadelphia began on October 6th as part of a larger widespread movement started in New York City known as Occupy Wall Street.
Adbusters, a Canadian Magazine, used the term “Occupy Wall Street” in its July issue and called people to come and protest on September 17th. Over the last month, the movement has inspired a widespread response with more than 1500 locations globally. A general strike is called in cities across the country on Wednesday November 2d in response to the level of police brutality.
In Philadelphia, the Occupy group has consisted of a few hundred tents and individuals camped at Dilworth Plaza outside City Hall. For the SLA community, such a globally symbolic movement located only seven blocks away has been something interesting to explore.
Students have different opinions about the protests. Senior Michael Dea went down to City Hall with the SLA poetry club last Tuesday as a part of their club activity. “They were marching, protesting, not knowing what they want,” he commented about what he saw. “I don’t think that they are going to get much done.”
Senior Gina Dukes said that she wants to “make people realize that it is more to the movement than what the media is portraying”. She thinks that the movement is organized and people “should actually visit so they can see for themselves what is going on”.
Dukes views the movement as positive because people are uniting to create changes in society. Yet she thinks that “Occupy Philly has barely made any progress” she commented “and the few times that I’ve visited, there has not been much action going on”.
History and Digital Video Teacher Doug Herman has a different viewpoint. “Their presence is necessary because it is a reminder that this world still has two super powers- America and public opinion.”
Mr. Herman has been taking pictures and involved in it since the first day of Occupy. “I think the most common thing that has been said against the Occupy events is that they don’t have any unification,” Mr. Herman commented, “and that there is extreme confusion as to what they are actually trying to achieve.”
Mr. Herman is not the only teacher who has engaged with the protests and their implications. Ms. Rami has her class journal prompts regarding this topic in her Reading, Writing, and Rising Up, which critiques media and their portrayals of different issues.
For a long run, Dea thinks that people should be more specific in what they are demanding. “If I could get people to listen, I’d create a unifying message targeting a specific issue at a time”, he said.
Despite the mixed opinions that students have, Occupy Philadelphia and the Occupy movement in general have definitely gotten SLA’s attention. Thanks to SLA’s location and the school’s commitment to inquiry, students have a chance to have conversations int heir classrooms about what is happening and whether they want to be involved.