While it may be true that when you pass by the Occupy Wall Street site in your city, what you see and hear usually associated with hippies might be present: long haired protesters, Djembe drums and acoustic guitars, tie dye shirts, peace signs, tents and Woody Guthrie songs. But what you will not find is an occupation site without people who are employed. So when cars pass by our occupy site in downtown West Palm Beach, FL, and drivers stick their head out their windows screaming “Get a Job Hippie!’ with their middle fingers pointed skyward, I take offense.
Many of the protesters I’ve met in the last few weeks that I’ve been a participant in this movement have jobs. So do I. We are hard working, law abiding, and tax paying citizens exercising our constitutional right to peacefully assemble. I’m able to overlook such ignorant insults as these because I know not everyone thinks we are a bunch of lazy, pot smoking (50% of Americans now agree that marijuana should be legalized according to a Gallup poll just released this past October) freeloaders; evident from the many other drivers in cars who pass by our occupation site and cheer us on by honking their horns; sometimes even stopping by to ask us how we’re doing and drop off supplies like food, water, ice, tents, etc.
Some of the opponents of the Occupy Wall Street movement have criticized us for being too loosely organized and not having clearly stated goals. I wonder if they have even taken the time to read our mission statement? I wonder if they even know we have a mission statement? They have criticized us for not having a spokesperson. Perhaps they are just frustrated that our movement does not resemble the movements of the past, specifically from their generation. I would counter their objections by stating that these are new times filled with new challenges. Rarely does the younger generation wish to mirror the older generation. Although we have been inspired by the past generation, and have grown wiser because of them, we now have the opportunity to create our own platforms, our own agendas, and our own course of action.
The same reason our parents listened to Rock and Roll is the same reason why we listened to Hip Hop; to annoy the hell out of the status quo, and to express ourselves on our own terms. And that is what the Occupy Wall Street movement has become; a protest movement that does not exactly mirror the past, but hopes to be just as progressive, if not more, in the interest of social justice. And by the way, some of these “hippies” you’re insulting were around in the 1960’s and fought hard for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights. And guess what; they’re still here fighting hard, alongside the high school kids, college kids, and thirty-somethings. Sticks and stones…sticks and stones!