Standing out in the cold

It was disturbing to see the Occupy protester’s removed by city officials due to the conditions in the encampment. Mayor Miner, to her credit, personally went to the site, something that most political leaders would avoid. It’s still disturbing that in a nation that cheers Egypt’s population defying their government, taking to the streets in protest, we here would shut down our own citizens united in protest against the unchecked power of money in politics.

We owe a debt of gratitude to those who braved the cold and were willing to reside in a tent encampment not unlike fellas on winter weekend fishing trip. But according to authorities it wasn’t safe.

What about the brave civil rights protestors who staged a sit-in at a Greensboro, N.C., “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter? Or a peaceful march for voting rights in Alabama when Dr. King led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the segregated south? The older I get the more I question our cosmetic caked protests compared to those who took to the streets to challenge an unjust and increasingly unpopular war.

Until the Occupy movement began, our protests had become like press conferences complete with sound bites designed to grab the attention of a 6 p.m. local newscast. Microwave protests lasting long enough to have a sound bite appear on the evening news.

Those men and women in Birmingham, Ala., who boycotted the busses, sacrificed 385 days and gave up an economical ride to work for walking and car pooling. People lost jobs and their lives in order for African-Americans to have the right to vote and today, almost 50 years later, in more than 20 states there are new laws in place to “protect the integrity of the election process,” which will make it more difficult for African-Americans to vote. Specifically by requiring the types of I.D.s acceptable that happen to be those that minorities and the poor don’t possess. By re-writing election laws and limiting voter accessibility, Republicans across the nation have done all they can to discourage people from voting.

When was the last time you heard of a voting fraud prosecution? Of the hundreds of millions of votes cast in this country there have only been a dozen cases!

In the era of the big box store, an HD television in every home, we’ve forgotten that many people stood out in the cold, defied the law, in Syracuse even chained themselves to the power company fence in an effort to gain the simple opportunity for a fair chance at life.

Feb. 2,2012