CMU Photojournalism Students Photograph Occupy Wall Street in New York City November 17-20

Alex VanDerStuyf

 

A protestor waves an American Flag in Zuccotti Park‎ at Broadway & Liberty Street, New York on November 17, 2011 at roughly 11:00 a.m. Also pictured are hundreds of other protestors and police personnel.

A police officer stands in between protestors and standbys and other civilians during the final hours of the day during Occupy Wall Street on November 19, 2011 in front of City Hall (Lower Manhattan) in New York City.

Apartment dwellers stand by and show their support (and political opinions) during a march on November 17, 2011 on the outside of Battery Park, New York City.

Many television crews were constantly interviewing students and protestors at Battery Park among the crowds.

Military personal and government employed individuals were a common sight throughout the 99% crowd. A Girl talks with a United States Vertran during a rally in front of City Hall located in lower Manhattan on November 19, 2011.

A couple share a moment on the New York City Subway on November 18, 2011.

Protestors stand on top of a subway terminal at Wall St @40.707557,-74.011862 due to police blocking marchers from entering Wall Street, NY.

An anonymous city worker stands in front of a citibank branch on the corner of William St. and John St., New York on November 17, 2011 while a police officer stands patrol inside of the ATM area to provide extra security during the 99% protests.

Burt Dryden, 64 of Queens takes a moment to read a flyer during the 99% Protests on November 17, 2011. “(Earlier) This kid was getting arrested and asked, why are you arresting me? Cop: It’s your time.” Dryden had taken the day off from his architecture firm downtown in Manhattan to come show support among fellow protestors. “I’m gonna get my wife down here. The hard part is when you’re working, you have to break a leg.”

 

 

212: A movement of frustration.
Photos and Story by Alex VanDerStuyf

On November 17, 2011 eight Central Michigan Photojournalism students and one professor hopped onto a plane headed for New York City. The result was this, project No Moment Left Behind. For more information and photos, you can check out my blog.

Taking a step back, I firmly believe a lot of people have no idea what’s going on with the 99%/Occupy Wall street protests. Initially going into the whole mess I wasn’t too certain myself, epically with the way mainstream media seems to forget to inform their viewers about the whole situation.

But after visiting Manhattan and returning I have an entirely different view on the protests. As an outsider who really has little to zero experience with these types of mass protests, I can say one thing and one thing about OWS (Occupy Wall Street): There’s this really big problem, and nobody really knows how to fix it.

Shutting down Wall Street in itself is going to take more than a few college students in Guy Fawkes masks. On November 17, 2011 Wallstreet did not get shut down. In fact, protesters didn’t even make it to the actual street due to police barricades.

The clear problem is the lack of financial stability in America. It isn’t that this country needs to become more liberal or conservative as a whole – it’s beyond politics. The system isn’t working. The numbers don’t add up, and the people are receiving the blunt and realistic punishments.

Education isn’t working. Fighting wars for oil isn’t working. Our jobs are being snatched by India, China, South America – and a growing number of other territories and locations that are everywhere but home.

And what do we have to show for all of this? We’ve lost our AAA rating, the rest of the world is beginning to show strain and lack of direction (see protests worldwide) and the general lack of confidence is literally killing the American dream.

Historically speaking the OWS message is interesting to say the least. If you look at all of the other civil uprisings in American history there are all clear messages and resolutions to problems. Bring home the troops (Vietnam). Give African Americans human rights they deserve (Civil rights movement). OWS is the first Frustration movement. I’ve seen this term used online loosely, but I think it’s a fair way to describe how things are going. You have this giant problem that isn’t static nor bidirectional – and there really aren’t any clear indicators where the movement is going or how it’s going to be resolved. Sure, there are the extremists who are trying to capitalize on pushing the most sheep into their views and thoughts – but there really isn’t a clear enough direction the movement is taking.

So what’s the general idea? To just rip the 1% to shreds and make everyone equal? The last time I checked those types of governments didn’t put people on the moon. It didn’t promote world class athletes and create some of the most innovative inventors and scientists this world has ever seen – but it did create worldwide starvation and genocide on multiple occasions.

Regardless it still keeps the question going: What is the core behind this movement?

Take Ilene Bernhardr for example. “I try to come everyday – I want to see our public schools properly funded” said Bernhardr. As a mother of two Bernhardr talked swiftly while marching along side students and lawyers all yelling a different slogan, holding different signs and ideas.

“I don’t think this is going anywhere anytime soon, people are becoming self aware” said North Carolina and college graduate Dennis Boyce (25). Boyce originally came to New York City to find work, but after coming to New York City he quickly realized finding a work was a full time job in itself. Now Boyce comes to Zuccotti park daily for a free meal.

In the end it’s a really confusing movement to be in. You have liberal extremists handing out self published newspapers next to a multi-millionaire, both yelling and chanting. “We. Are. The 99%.” Yes, that’s all fine and great but what do you want? What’s the solution? Is there a solution?

At the core of it all, you have talented, passionate individuals yelling until they can’t whisper – you have the heart of America crying out. There needs to be a response. Something needs to be done. We need closure.

Putting politics and opinions aside I think there’s something all nine participants call all agree on: Telling the stories of protestors and inhabitants of New York City will always be looked back upon as one of the most telling moments of our lives.

To walk among and listen to people in a city so far away was an amazing experience worth far more than any motivational speaker I’ve ever sat through. Far more trying than any scan tron test I’ve ever had the pleasure to pencil in. It was a chance to prove ourselves in a conflict of interest – filled with many moments I won’t be able to forget for the rest of my life.

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One response

  1. Thanks for posting Alex! Nice work. Especially the second and fourth ones. Please write captions when you get a chance.

    November 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

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