Occupy movement seeks new recruits. In New York, it found some. (+video)
A new generation of activists skips school, flocks to Wall Street to join May Day Occupy protests. On their minds? student loans, reining in corporations, and being part of something that could matter.
April showers didn’t bring May flowers this year – they bloomed early – but May Day did bring some new people into the Occupy Wall Street movement.Skip to next paragraph
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The Occupy movement's May Day marches and demonstrations across the country were intended in part to revive the movement, which had lost some momentum over the winter months, and gain new support.
"What they need to do is showcase the movement as a relevant voice,” says Catherine Wilson, a professor of political science at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. “They are trying to reignite the movement by partnering with like-minded groups to effect change.”
A schedule of marches, gatherings, events in parks throughout the city and protests outside of corporations and banks meant that there were many opportunities to join in. Occupy groups used social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as old-fashioned pamphlets, to publicize the day’s events.
For young people, the day was a chance to join the movement – even if it meant missing school.
“There is the realization that we need to take the country back from the corporations,” says Jeremy Cohen, 14, who, together with two friends, his mom, and a friend’s mom, came in from Princeton, N.J., for the May Day protests. The three eighth-graders stood behind an Occupy banner that Jeremy had used his birthday money to buy online.
As they told a reporter why they took the day off from school to be part of the protest, a police officer told them that they weren’t allowed to stand on the sidewalk. They kept walking.
Jeremy, who visited Zuccotti Park last fall, convinced his friends to become involved over the winter. He said most of his teachers were supportive of his skipping school to join the protests, and some said they wished they could go, too.
“I agree with almost everything that Occupy Wall Street is promoting,” says Jeremy Taylor, also 14. “It’s great to be part of something larger than yourself.”
About 40 students from Bard High School Early College in Queens came to Madison Square Park as part of a field trip. The students and their teachers gathered in the park, where teach-in circles formed on topics such as classical philosophy and nonviolence.
“We are learning about strikes and inequality in school, so this was especially relevant,” says Macella Geffard, 14, who had just finished a unit on the progressive movement in her American history class. “It’s crazy to see how history repeats itself.”