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Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges on the 99 Percent
Posted on Oct 6, 2011
Howie Stier: [To Protester No. 4] You’re currently homeless, living in a tent in Ventura County. What brought you down to City Hall in downtown L.A. today?
Protester No. 4: Well, my friends were telling me about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and they said that it was going to get going here in L.A., and I knew I had to be part of this. This is basically what my life belief is about, is changing the system and finding something that will work for the people.
Howie Stier: How do you think protesting here today is going to change the system?
Protester No. 4: I think most importantly it’s going to bring attention to the issues at hand. Most people don’t really know what is going on. There’s been such a vast media blackout that people don’t even know that there’s a protest. And one of my missions is that I want to get the word out to the people; I want the people to know that it’s not OK to just sit back and let ourselves be duped by these corporations.
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Protester No. 4: Unfortunately, I was living with my boyfriend at his parents’ house, and they decided that they didn’t want us to live there anymore. So we were kicked out to the street, and we had nowhere else to go; we didn’t have any jobs to pay for rent. So it was basically a tent or nothing.
Howie Stier: Do you have an occupation?
Protester No. 4: No, I’ve only held minimum-wage jobs before. I’ve thought about trying to find a better job, but most of them require a degree, and that requires thousands of dollars spent on school that I don’t have.
Howie Stier: You’re college-age, but you’ve never gone to college?
Protester No. 4: I was in community college for a while, but it just wasn’t getting me anywhere. Because even if I did graduate with a degree, there’s no job for me anyway.
Howie Stier: [To Protester No. 5] Steven, where are you from?
Protester No. 5: I’m from North Hollywood, California.
Howie Stier: And how old are you?
Protester No. 5: I’m 22 years old.
Howie Stier: OK. And your immediate goal for making a show of demonstration out here is what?
Protester No. 5: To think. Ultimately, to make people think. I’m holding a sign here that says “Suffering From Realness.” Ultimately that just means that we need to return back to the state of nature. This is me being real in a silicone world, and all of us are real; all of us are one; all of us are human beings; all of us are unique. So we all have our qualities to bring to the table, and to this puzzle of life. I’m just asking everyone to come out here and bring that piece. Because ultimately, this revolution is more of an evolution of consciousness. We’re going to another state of just being and living. And answering this call, this red telephone of awareness, is the highest state of human existence. What are they going to reminisce about you? What is your history going to be? Everyone’s the main character of their own movie. So what is going to be that ending, what is going to be that monumental moment of your life, to where you can say hey, I did this for my people?
Howie Stier: A lot of people are struggling out here in the economy. You have told me you’re flourishing; you’re doing well, because you have a broad range of skills. Tell me some of the things you do.
Protester No. 5: I wouldn’t say I’m flourishing, but I would say that I’m pretty comfortable. I think that it’s about how well you adapt when things get tough, and not just being stuck doing one occupation.
Howie Stier: What are the jobs that you do?
Protester No. 5: I do anything from computer 3-D renderings, digi modeling, architectural drafting, gallery openings, logo design, graphic design, website building, I do installation work, actual construction work. I can use tools, I can use a computer, I can work from anywhere, basically. I work from home. And so I don’t have to go to an office. I’m moving to India in three or four months to actually work from India; it doesn’t matter where I am if I have that broad range of skill sets; you just kind of get in where you fit in, and if people need help then you have a lot of different things that you can offer. I think that’s the way to adapt in this world.
Howie Stier: [To Protester No. 6] Could you tell me your name, please?
Protester No. 6: My name is Solomon.
Howie Stier: Solomon, full name, please?
Protester No. 6: Solomon, you don’t get my full name.
Howie Stier: OK. Solomon, can you tell me what brought you to City Hall in Los Angeles today?
Protester No. 6: I don’t really know where to begin. There’s just so much, from half of my friends who are drowning in student loan debt; they can’t find jobs, to the fact that we’re spending god knows how much money on wars on drugs, wars on foreign nations, while the people here at home—we can’t even eat. I myself, I’m struggling to eat; I live paycheck to paycheck, and I have to give up so much just to be able to feed myself. And I know that I’m not alone here. And it’s almost more of an emotional thing to be able to see and look around and know that I’m not alone and we’re not alone, we’re all in this together.
Howie Stier: So other than it being comforting, what are you planning to accomplish by being out at City Hall?
Protester No. 6: You know, I personally can’t speak for everyone out here, but I tend to just kind of look at it from the perspective of we’re going to meet and we’re going to come and see what happens. We don’t, I don’t think anyone here knows exactly what this is going to accomplish. It might not accomplish anything except getting the attention of some people and stopping traffic. But even if that’s all it accomplishes, then to me, in my eyes, that’s a success.
Howie Stier: And you spoke about friends having college loans to pay back. How about yourself?
Protester No. 6: Oh yeah, I mean, I’m only $20,000 in debt, which you know, I’ve talked to my friends and that’s pocket change to some people. Because I have friends that are 70, 80, $100,000 in debt.
[Protesters chanting: “They Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out”]
Joe Briones: My name is Joe Briones.
Howie Stier: What’s your function here in the tent?
Joe Briones: I’m part of the media team for Occupy L.A.
Howie Stier: You have said that anytime you need some equipment, you need some resources, how do you go about getting it?
Joe Briones: You know, we throw it up on the live stream—we need pallets, canopies, towels, dry socks, warm clothes—and every time we’ve made a request, the public’s been very gracious and has been down here within 10 or 15 minutes with what we need.
Howie Stier: So you put out the word you needed pallets to keep your equipment off the wet ground, and what happened?
Joe Briones: And a guy came by with a big truck and gave us 12 pallets. And this happened within 10 minutes of our putting it out there.
Howie Stier: That’s what you’d call direct democracy.
Joe Briones: I believe so. You know, I think it’s an indication of the people’s support for what we’re doing.
Peter Scheer:That was the mustachioed Howie Stier reporting from Occupy L.A. for Truthdig Radio. This just in: The Guardian estimates 15,000 people are marching on lower Manhattan in support of the 99 percent movement. Amy Goodman is on the scene and reports that the number is even higher. This is Truthdig Radio.
Peter Scheer: In a little bit, we’ll hear from Ina May Gaskin about modern midwifery. First, the White House is trying to thread the needle on immigration by re-prioritizing deportation rules. Leilani Albano has this report from Free Speech Radio about the so-called Secure Communities program.
FSRN Host: In Los Angeles, street vendors are often targeted by police. But this time, they’re getting more than a minor ticket. Many are being forced back to their countries and separated from their loved ones. Leilani Albano has more on the story.
Leilani Albano: It’s a hot afternoon as “Vicente” scoops up mounds of shaved ice from his food cart. For the last three years, the 56-year-old paletero, or ice cream vendor, has been concocting vanilla, bubble gum, strawberry and mango-flavored snow cones for passers-by. His customers might not know it, but most street vending in Los Angeles is illegal. “Vicente,” who will not use his real name, is aware of the dangers but continues to sell on the streets.
“Vicente”: [Translator:] “There is no other option but to keep working here.”
Leilani Albano: Violators are accustomed to paying fines, but these days the penalties are much higher. With the introduction of Secure Communities, a federal program that allows local authorities and immigration officials to share fingerprint databases of anyone booked in jail, L.A. vendors now run the risk of getting deported.
Antonio Bernabe: “Before, they were just being ticketed or arrested. But without any kind of immigration problems.”
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