The hellish, the normal and the opulent 

Occupy Wall Street from the inside through the experiences of a Whistler resident

Editor's note: The Occupy protests around the world have seen various levels of acceptance. For example, when Occupy Vancouver supporters tried to set up a new camp in East Vancouver local residents turned them away.

"Just walking into New York is an assault on every one of your senses," says Anita Naidu, who has been decompressing since returning from two weeks in New York's Zuccotti Park. "There is every variety of corruption and person that you can possibly imagine waiting to greet you."

Naidu recently flew from Whistler to participate in the epicentre of protest against the inequalities of the global financial system. "I was in Whistler mode where everyone's talking about the season. I got off the plane at JFK, and it was like: OK, Occupy Wall Street (OWS). It's always this big switch doing political work from living in a resort town."

Naidu is a consulting engineer and a dedicated snowboarder, climber and mountain biker — and although she's undertaken some political advocacy, she doesn't usually put her life on pause to protest.

But this time, she said there was no choice. "If I didn't go, then I'm not who I think I am.

"There's very much an emotional belief connected to these ideas. To not go would be a false choice. I also live in a place [Whistler] where the characteristic of the population is very easy, where life is very easy. . . . Living in a place where life is so easy makes you more fragile. Not participating in [OWS] is just a greater input to injustice."

If the response of the public in media, at the camps and on the Internet is any indication, the demands of the Occupy movement, though diverse, have resonated with a population feeling the effects of financial collapse. Figures from developed nations continue to demonstrate that personal debt is escalating; that inflation is becoming all the more evident; and that real wages have been stagnant for decades. Not only the Occupy movement, but also many economists argue that the debt crisis downloaded responsibility for reckless financial speculation onto the already overburdened. The result of the 2008 financial crisis is a huge number of disaffected and impoverished people with nothing to lose and nowhere to go, many evicted through foreclosures and with no work in sight.

As media reports document, everything from curtailing campaign spending to demanding constraints on corporate lobbying, has been emphasized in the signs and actions of the Occupy movement. Demands for a maximum wage, housing for the homeless, an end to foreclosures, and for the banks and financial speculators to be held accountable is at the heart of the Occupy movement — and which is why it all began on Wall Street.


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