I revised this post for clarity. The point of this post is to say that foreclosure and sub-prime mortgages are not the end of this financial crisis. There are millions of Americans, with millions of different stories, who have been caught up in this financial tragedy.
I told my story, and I stand by it. I have talked about my own family, and our situation in an effort to explain my civil disobedience because I thought that by being forthcoming, people might understand. I now realize that there is no amount of honesty about my life that I can tell that will help people understand just how bad it is for many families in United States.
People are suffering, and our response cannot be to let that suffering go without any social safety net. As one suffers, we all suffer. As people call for me to drop out of school and “help” my parents, I don’t believe they realize how that is not a proper or realistic solution. For recent college graduates the unemployment rate is 21% as of January. Additionally, the society needs people becoming skilled workers as soon as possible, but that will not happen if there are no social safety nets to care for sick family members. If the society needs us to be productive, then it is in society’s interest to provide as many tools as possible to make that happen.
I don’t care if people believe me or not; I know what I said is true, no matter what people say.
First, I would like to recognize some of the people who were in custody with me (and will refer to them by the names we used in custody). Without these people, experience in police custody would have been much more difficult. Marisa, the camerawoman who captured my arrest, as she filmed, the police struck her and threw her to the ground. Hero, a fellow protestor, was beaten by the police in such a way that I saw the marks on his face from their fists. Johnny Depp, the eldest of us, was a calming influence who worked to keep the peace while we were in custody. Finally I thank Blood, who was the first to be arrested and the emotional catalyst for the march. Additionally, I thank Steve-O, Luna, Kelly, and Tom Waits for leading us in songs while we were in the precinct holding.
I slept outside in the park on Friday night, and on Saturday I participated in the march. Although I knew there was a chance that by just showing up I would be arrested, I didn’t plan on doing an intentional act of civil disobedience. However, when I saw the Chase bank, tears filled my eyes and I could only think about how I had just seen their logo on my parents’ door. The march had just begun and was being contained on the sidewalk; I knew that by walking into the street I would be arrested.
Some may find my arrest humorous or melodramatic, and that is fine. I can see how me crying in the middle of the street and asking to be arrested could be funny when taken out of context. Some may laugh at my emotion on youtube, some can say that I was simply whining or looking for attention. I had no idea that there would be cameras, and in fact the world actually missed the funniest part: I was shaking so badly as I walked off the curb, I fell on my face. Initially, people thought I was hurt.
I kept repeating that I was ready to be arrested because I know how criminal justice tends to treat Black men (see Rodney King, a Black man beaten by police while on his knees etc). Additionally, as I was on my knees people were being beaten all around me, including some of the camerapeople. In my eyes, they and the other victims of police brutality on that day are heroes.
The blogs have been reporting a story that I made up this entire situation and that my parents are choosing to move. This lie was achieved by a reporter from The Blaze calling my mother, pretending to be my friend, and then ambushing her with questions. It is true that my parents are doing a short sale, but no one chooses to do a short sale. This blog said that because the bank was inducing my parents to sell their home in a short sale, and give Chase all of the money, it wasn’t the same thing as foreclosure, so it wasn’t that bad. Of course a short sale is not the same thing as a foreclosure, but that does not mean that it is not the bank taking your house. These blogs are trying to say that I don’t belong out there with other #OccupyWallStreet protesters.
You know what I say to that? I say that these blogs don’t know who we are. WE ARE THE 99%! There is no single way that the financial industry is abusing us; there are too many of us with too many stories. There are teachers here; there are lawyers here; there are homeless people here; there are carpenters here. This diversity is the definition of the 99%; Wall Street exploitation affects every sector of society. Saying I’m too rich to be exploited, makes about as much sense as a corporation being “Too big to fail”. They are trying to divide us based on our differences; but our diversity, our majority, is our greatest strength. I belong here with you because: WE ARE THE 99%. Even as these strangers attack my family and soil my name, I will continue to fight-on along your side because: WE ARE THE 99%.
So if you’re a college grad who can’t get a job to pay back student loans, you belong here because: WE ARE THE 99%. To the workers who face a higher retirement age with fewer benefits, you all belong here because: WE ARE THE 99%! To anyone who is afraid to speak-out for fear of losing their job, you belong here because: WE ARE THE 99%!
And to the woman who did the bidding of the financial industry and wrote that story attacking my character and our mission, even you belong here because: WE ARE THE 99%!
WE ARE THE 99%! WE WON’T STOP BECAUSE WE BELIEVE OUR CAUSE IS JUST! YOU CAN’T STOP US BECAUSE OUR NUMBERS ARE TOO STRONG! WE CAN’T STOP! WE WON’T STOP! WE ARE THE 99%!