On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, I paid a visit to Representative Allen West’s office in Washington, D.C., along with a group of fellow activists. Allen West represents the 22nd district of Florida. When we arrived at his office, we requested to speak with him, as was our right as constituents and residents of his congressional district. There were about 15-20 of us and we were told that he was not in his office and that we could wait outside in the hallway until he returned. Instead, we chose to enter his office and wait for him patiently. We waited for nearly two hours and finally he made an appearance. After he met with designated members of our group, he gave an interview with Fox News and made some statements that were not entirely reflective of what I witnessed. So, with all due deference Mr. Congressman, I’d like a word with you!
Firstly, when the video of your interview begins to play, Fox News posts a bulletin that reads “Occupy Protests Get Violent” in the segment which features statements you gave regarding your experience with the Occupy Palm Beach group; the group I am a member of. I would like to ask you; when did our meeting with you become “violent?” Was it the part when we were sitting in your office peacefully and your aide slammed the door loudly for us all to hear because he was frustrated that he was unsuccessful in getting us to wait in the hallway for two hours for you to arrive? I will concede that an unfortunate event did occur when a woman in our group lost her temper (as did your aide when he slammed his door) when she was rudely ignored by your administrative assistant when she asked her “how do you like working for Representative Allen West?” Our group member reacted to being ignored by your administrative assistant by turning to the rest of us and loudly saying, “She just ignored me…what a bitch!” I did not appreciate her calling your assistant that derogatory name, as our intention was to reflect a tone of mutual respect. However, your administrative assistant neglected to exhibit that same amount of respect, and I didn’t think it very proper or business-like for her to ignore one of our group members when she was asked a simple question. And at no time did the police, present in your office, find it necessary to arrest anyone in our group. So we must agree that no violence occurred, and that Fox News’ bulletin was misleading.
Secondly, I applaud you for taking the time to meet with some of us and for making the comment that “you never kick over someone’s tent” in an attempt to show our movement the proper respect when Fox News attacked our legitimacy. However, you then went on to state “when we confronted them with facts and the truth they kind of went away with their tail in between their legs…” Actually Mr. West, after our meeting with you we proceeded in an orderly fashion downstairs to Representative Vern Buchanan’s office (13th district of Florida) to also meet with him. Unfortunately, similarly when we arrived at your office sir, he also was not available and his administrative assistant, though much more welcoming than your own, could not tell us when he would return.
Far from leaving with our tail in between our legs, we actually participated in two more major demonstrations in our nation’s capitol over the course of the next two days; one in the financial district of Washington, D.C., and the other in front of the Capitol building where police guards watched from atop the stairs with automatic weapons. (See picture below)
So Mr. Congressman, let us be fair when we speak via media outlets about our dealings with one another. I admire the courage it takes to work as a congressional representative for the Unites States of America. You and our other representatives and senators put your life on the line every day when you go to work. You work hard with the sincere intentions to make sure our nation is moving in a direction consistent with how your constituents vote. We appreciate your service. But please, do not refer to Occupy Wall Street as “an empty movement” as you did in your interview. Because sir, I assure you our movement is not “empty.” Conversely, it is full with equally hard working, courageous, sacrificing people who are spread across the nation, including the 22nd district of Florida, which you represent.