Photograph by Dan Mamoon
"Occupied," Day 1
It’s been four days since Torontonians have congregated and camped out at St. James park, joining the global Occupy movement. Undettered by the wet and dreary weather, they will occupy until the ills of capitalism are not only known, but modified to benefit the population, too.
I spoke to several people hoping to quench my curiosity regarding their attendance. I walked up to a gentleman named Graeme just as he ate the last of his muffin. I waited patiently for him to chew and swallow before I asked him why he came to St. James’ park. “To show solidarity with the 99%,” he said. “To me the biggest strength [of Occupy Toronto] is seeing those who haven’t been to demonstrations before.” This, I suppose, is the result of having 99% of people the victims of unequal wealth distribution: no one is discriminated, everyone is welcome.
Solidarity was a common thread throughout the attendees as was vocalizing an opinion. “I have a voice,” said a girl named Natalie when I asked why she had attended. Ross, a middle-aged man, stood watching the drum circle on October 15th holding a Starbucks coffee in his hand, “Voicing an opinion is a positive,” he said. “Corporations make money, but provide jobs.” He balanced the argument, giving corporations a plus one that many have overlooked, but Ross looked to balance the distribution of wealth especially for welfare receivers and students. “Meet me halfway,” he said.
A single-mother named Theodora came to the protest in hopes to participate in the present that will create a better future for her child, a future ruled by ethics. Like Ross, she hopes the demonstration will “level the playing field.”
Accountability on behalf of corporations has been a long and difficult issue, mainly because corporations are legally considered a person, not the people who created the corporation. As such, a corporation is an elusive profit-making machine. I still hold reservations about whether the movement will instill any real change before it self-destructs, but its international scale is rather baffling.
Over 100 American cities have joined the movement, 82 countries worldwide, and with each joining city the protestors tents are reinforced and their spikes secure in the earth they pierce. Occupy Toronto is still in its early days and has done much to validate its attendees, but whether the movement will instill any sustainable change is unknown.
A student named Emmy, who I’ve encountered at a few politically-strung events, had this to say: “In history one day is always written down, today is that day.” Whatever amounts from the movement, the future has been influenced by it in some way, drastic or not.
*photo essay below