Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy San Diego

Americans are fed up, so much so that they’re taking to the streets in a grassroots movement aimed to encompass all present day socio-economic issues. While the scope of the Occupy (Wall Street) movement is large and has been criticized for lacking focus, each person voiced his or her own gripes but made clear the prevailing message is social and economic justice for all. Protesters are mostly middle to lower class Americans who say the government has its priorities tangled in a corrupt web of corporate favoritism; many expressed interest in a government bailout from their own financial woes, saying that kick-downs to corporate institutions have cost (in combination with the longest war in our nation’s history) the majority of Americans greatly.
The nationwide movement reached San Diego yesterday and demonstrators marched throughout downtown demanding the kind of change they’d like to see.

Lots of fish=lots of teeth.

Another prominent message from the Occupy movement: “I want to work but there are no jobs.”
It’s been a rough road in the job department since I graduated from college in 2005; with a degree in writing, I’ve come to accept that most companies just want me for contract or per-project work. But a fatal blow came a couple years into my career when I was happily and steadily working for a local television news station on contract– led to believe that employment status was to come– and then was laid off unexpectedly. The position required that I perform job duties only on company premises, so I showed up for work every day like the rest of the “employees” until my last, never questioning my rights as a contractor. The truth is that I was so relieved to escape the former period of unemployment that I simply put my nose to the grindstone without thinking too much about future consequences. Live and learn.
Without the support of unemployment benefits, my job search was desperate, stressful, and unproductive after several months. In a last ditch effort to save my broke ass, I applied for those benefits anyway, showing proof that I was treated and expected to perform just like the regular employees. I was denied, then got word from my former boss that I was blacklisted from ever freelancing for the company again. The car that I bought when I was gainfully employed a year earlier was repossessed, I had to move, and two years later I still have no idea if or when I can pay that (and more) debt off.


Jobless, broke America: a bad time to graduate from school and even worse if you have loans to pay back.

The crowd made its way to Market Street and proceeded up 5th Avenue. San Diego Police Department did a fine job managing protesters and traffic, without any major incidents ( that I observed).

5th and Broadway. A grand procession.

I’m grateful that Americans are organizing, mobilizing and infiltrating the most populated areas of our country to share their stories. Until now, I’ve been too embarrassed to share my own. I’m 30 years old, haven’t had medical insurance since I was 24 and continue to depend on my family for money when times are particularly tough. Like so many I saw and heard yesterday at the Occupy San Diego protest, it’s impossible to separate the events of 9-11 with our country’s uncertain state today. I couldn’t have predicted that the start of my adult life would be so troubled by the effects of war, from a down-turned economy to the general disenfranchisement that happens in times of political crisis. We can only hope and demand  together that our leaders enable The People of this country who are clearly willing to work to turn it around. I don’t want a handout– just the tools to work and live healthily in America. My dream has changed.