Yesterday, I thought I’d head down to check out an “Occupy Seattle” protest scheduled for the late afternoon to see what it was about. I drove to the Montlake neighborhood, making sure to stay on my side of the Montlake Bridge in case it was “occupied,” which would have obliged me to take an inconvenient route home. There were a couple dozen cops suiting up in riot gear at a nearby grocery store, which confirmed that I was close to the occupiers, so I stopped near there and walked across the bridge toward the protestors on the other side.
It was one of those typical November days in Seattle, with temperatures just above freezing and driving rain, and I wondered whether anyone would show up at all, but when I arrived at the protest site a couple hundred people were milling about. There were some tents, signs and representatives from various unions. However, despite the fact that the protest was being held on the University of Washington’s campus, precious few students.
The crowd was actually quite old. Although there were a few of the usual younger, radical types, there were more who were middle-aged and above. Speakers had been set up, and they were playing Bob Dylan; a 50-something woman was toting a “Save Medicare” sign, one woman was pushing around an oxygen tank and grey-haired old hippies were walking around in ponchos. There were only two or three young guys with the “anonymous” masks, and they were outnumbered, believe it or not, by Somali women in chadors. I overheard a young woman saying something about how attending the protest was part of her gender/women’s studies class.
It was a motley, uninspired crew, and I wondered why the cops even bothered with the riot gear. For an idea of what the protesters looked like, check out the photos accompanying this article. Geriatric…
After spending some time in the crowd and getting quite wet, I decided there was not much more to see and walked back to the car. I passed a group of easygoing, polite cops on the way back, who, despite their menacing gear, acted as though they were tasked with protecting rather than confronting the fragile demonstrators.
After seeing yesterday’s occupy protest, I realized that there’s really nothing revolutionary about the movement — it’s actually more of a plea for charity from the folks who have grown accustomed to being taken care of by a government that is losing the ability to be generous. Political demonstrations in the US used to be characterized by youth and vigor, but if Occupy Seattle is any indication, they are now little more than beggars’ armies, extending their hands for alms from a nation that has been looted penniless.