I went to the rally yesterday and it was respectful, peaceful and well organized in spite of rows of riot police lining each end of the area and preparing to 'kettle' the protesters. Kettling is the term applied to the act of police forming cordons across the paths out of an area and thus either containing the people within it or forcing the use of a particular (police chosen) exit.
You can see the rows of Riot Police behind the "Cop It Sweet" street theatre group who were doing the very Aussie thing - "taking the piss" out of the coppers.
I went to Occupy Sydney yesterday because I strongly believe that there is too much disparity between rich and poor; I believe Wall St in particular, and corporate America in general, directly caused the recession in the US and the collapse of the housing industry; and I believe that the 1% has continued to rape and pillage like pigs at a trough while EVERYONE ELSE (yes EVERYONE, the other 99%) has struggled to tighten their belts! Furthermore, I believe that if you don't show your face and get yourself counted (if you possibly can) then you deserve what you get.
On the way into the downtown area I met a lovely young man (my god I sound like my grandmother!), Andrew is 17 and he has no idea what the Occupy movement was about, but he was interested. He sat with me on the bus and then waited while I got my ticket at the train station so that he could wait with me for the train and then sat with me there too. He had been refereeing basketball all morning and was on his way home. I tried to explain it to him but to say it is a protest against corporate greed is just scraping the surface. I would have had better words on my way home (except on the way home I was really tired and might not have struck up the conversation in the first place.)
The best speaker was a bloke from the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia) whose name I unfortunately didn't catch. The MUA was there with a portable cafe making free sausage sandwiches for all comers. They took a vote and approved a resolution of solidarity with the Occupy Sydney movement and they have been on board and helping since day one. Their speaker was interesting, informative and passionate he talked about Shell Oil whose profits amount to $35,000 a minute, yes A MINUTE. How the MUA is struggling with Shell for tiny pay raises and improved safety and conditions on the Shell tankers when Shell earns more than the most highly paid seafarer on their ships every three minutes. He talked about another CEO who was getting a 71% pay increase (to over five million dollars a year) when the same company was fighting against a 5% pay increase for employees, unfortunately I couldn't hear the details in this case. It is JUST WRONG!!!
The Occupy Movement is rather esoteric which makes it hard to clearly define the objectives and even to elucidate a desired solution. In a masculine, goal focused, society this makes it a bit hard to understand. My old friend, who met me there, tells me this is an integral part of the ideal, in that by not having specific demands the movement is open to evolve and morph into whatever it needs to be without the confines or structure of an imposed objective. (I hope I got that right mate - please correct me with a comment if I screwed up). Ergo the system is broken but the fix may not have revealed itself yet. Oh and BTW my old friend was great, it made me smile to think how unchanged she really is after 30 years of not seeing each other. Yet again I am reminded of what terrific friends I picked all those years ago!
Just an update, I did take a cane/walking stick with me. I never really realized before that it is like having a private portable banister or handrail whenever you want it, which is kind of cool. (I have been a huge handrail user for years since a few falls down stairs, due to crappy balance, drummed it into my thick head.) I was feeling pretty damn good yesterday and I really didn't need the cane though I must confess to giving it a lot more use on the way home when I was starting to get seriously tired. Last night was one of those nights when the need to be horizontal overwhelmed hunger and thirst and was only trumped by the need to pee!