Words by Justin Allen
Photos by David Frey
Photos and interviews by Matt Kelley


Photo by David Frey

If you’re wondering what possible effect the Occupy Baltimore demonstrations could have on society at large, you’re missing the bigger picture. The crowd down at the Inner Harbor might only swell from a handful of folks to a couple hundred people on any given day, but that’s only part of the story. The real story is about a global movement that emerged from within our cities as naturally as make believe from the lips of our elected officials. The movement currently exists in hundreds of urban centers across the world and, on any given day, its numbers probably swell from tens of thousands of folks to a few hundred thousand, and those numbers are growing. At this rate, it could be millions of people any day now. If you’re looking at the protest in the Inner Harbor as a measure by which to calculate the capacity of the movement, you’re greatly underestimating it. The evidence of its potential can’t be measured by looking at what’s happening in any one city.


Photo by Matt Kelley

Lianna Brizzi
Photo by David Frey

The Occupy Movement, and the Arab Spring before it, are both remarkable because they represent the potential to create movements that are decentralized, organized, and capable of communicating with the world at the touch of a button. These movements illustrate the evolution from a society in which information comes at a premium and is distributed linearly to that of a networked society where information is free and distributed at will. One result of this phenomenon, coupled with the visibility of the Occupy protesters, is that the conversation about the corportization of America, and the world, has officially entered into the mainstream and I have a feeling it’s here to stay. Certainly, the media has covered the mortgage crisis. But the story that needs to be told starts several decades earlier.

Photo by David Frey

The idea that corporate interests control political agendas in a way that is ultimately detrimental to our way of life has been difficult to bring to the masses due to the fact that they’ve been bombarded by interference for as long there’s been television. In the 20th Century the media that brought information and entertainment to the people had been wholly owned by corporate interests which enabled them to manipulate messages to serve those interests. Deregulation and the consolidation of media companies further discouraged the dissemination of unbiased information. The resulting corporate media not only discounted any narrative that found fault with their practices, they vilified the messengers as enemies of the state. At the same time, this media was used to fortify a two party political system that has continuously worked to divide the country and pit Americans against one another. It’s not a stretch to imagine that this division is a strategy enacted in order to keep us quarreling and distracted while our wealth and resources are syphoned off and redistributed for the benefit of a few. Whether you’re drinking the Kool-Aid being served by Democrats or Republicans the end result is the same. Partisan politics and Corporate America are partners in a game that uses the 99% as pawns.

What is so powerful about the kind of movements that we are witnessing today is that they represent the idea that our ability to communicate a message to millions of people is no longer bound by traditional media channels. It is only bound by our imagination. Anyone who is motivated can be heard. The protests here in Baltimore and in cities across the world, are the physical manifestation of our collective discontent. Occupy Baltimore is important because it is evidence of the collective consciousness driving face-to-face interaction in the interest of the greater good. It is important because they give credence to the notion that humanity has yet to fully succumb to apathy and cynicism and those who are headed in that direction might find some much needed inspiration down at Mckeldin Square. Because, the message people are looking for today is one that is meaningful and true. And in the current age of transparency, now that information can no longer be locked away for long, the truth will not stand for being hidden either.  – @jmathewallen


Photo by Matt Kelley

”I am here to protest the growing inequalities between the rich and the poor and the fact that corporations are getting bailouts while the 99% struggle to make ends-meet.” -Andrew Mattingly

 


Photo by Matt Kelley

“I am a student at JHU, I am here because of these big corporations outsourcing jobs and oppressing the 99% that are not them. The sad thing is that most people live check-to-check nowadays, there’s very little middle class. What’s happening is that when you live check to check you can’t save or invest. When all you can afford to do is by food and clothing there is no way to work to achieve the American dream. So I am here to protest the corporate slavery that we are involved in.” -Brandy

Photo by Matt Kelley

“I’m unemployed right now. I go to school out at Lincoln tech for HVAC. I used to work for the city. I am here to support the movement against organizations that look down on us like little people. We all know what it is that’s happening to our country and we’re all tired of it.” -Michael Cornish

Photo by Matt Kelley

“I’m a University of Maryland Baltimore County graduate student and I am here because I believe the rich should be paying more taxes and jobs should be created for the poor through infrastructure investment, education spending, healthcare and renewable energies. And I think that we should stop subsidizing giant corporations and paying for wars.” -Michael Farley

“I am a student and I am primarily here against corporate greed and low taxes for the rich. I am against the current government cutting social spending that benefits the poor and pumping government spending into systems that oppress them like prisons and war.” -Ryan Mitchell

Photo by Matt Kelley

”I am employed with the city. The reason I am here is because I heard so much about it through friends and Facebook and I wanted to see for myself and learn about it by the people who are participating. I stayed overnight and I plan to help out as much as I can. I think there is a lot of spending that could be used for other purposes. Big businesses only care about profit and if they were to only donate a portion of that money to causes that needed it people wouldn’t be in the situations they are in right now. Some business do that but not many. More people should.” -Jose Rosero

Photo by Matt Kelley

“I work in medical research. I’ve been watching what’s going on in New York and I felt compelled to come here with my family tonight to see what’s going on. The press isn’t covering this in detail and I wanted to see what’s going on… I’ve been involved in the peace movement since I was 15 and this is something different.” -Vince Rigousky

Julie Lewis
Photo by David Frey

Photo by David Frey

Photo by David Frey

 

Check out @brookehall’s article about the Occupy Movement here.

  • http://twitter.com/Phidadidit Philip E. Laubner

    Babies are radicals!!!!!!!

  • Peter Davis

    Well written article.