Meet the protesters of Occupy St. Louis – October 14, 2011

October 15, 2011 | By | 10 Replies More

I occasionally listen to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show because I consider it important to understand how it is that my views differ from those of people who oppose my views. Two days ago, I listened to Limbaugh bloviating about the people who are participating in the Occupy Protests springing up all over the United States.  By  some reports, there are more than 1,000 such protests ongoing, and they are actually occurring all over the world.   Limbaugh announced, without hesitation, that these protesters are mostly unemployed, lazy, dirty, amoral, socially irresponsible and ignorant young people. Those who rely on Rush Limbaugh for their facts might thus be highly likely to object to these protests (including Occupy Wall Street) based on Limbaugh’s description of the protesters.  But is the description he gave to his many (though dwindling number of) listeners accurate?  I had an opportunity to check this yesterday at the Occupy St. Louis protest in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

Over the past few days, I’ve been quite occupied at my day job, and it was only while walking back to my law office from the federal courthouse at 4 pm yesterday that I spotted an organized march coming down Market Street in downtown St. Louis.  I would estimate that there were almost 1,000 people marching.  I didn’t have my video camera with me, but I did have my Canon S95 pocket camera, so I got to work taking hand-held video and still shots of the protesters.  Here’s the finished product, which will allow you to actually meet the types of people who are participating in the Saint Louis Occupy protest.  You can now be your own judge of what these protesters are like:

As you can see from the parade route pans and the interviews, none of these people fit the description given by Rush Limbaugh.  Off camera, I asked most of the protesters about their “day jobs,” and all of them indicated that they were gainfully employed, and in a wide variety of challenging fields.   These “young” protesters of Occupy St. Louis ranged in age from 20’s to their 80’s.   The on-camera statements of the people I interviewed show that they are well-informed, thoughtful, highly articulate and good-hearted.  Many of the people I spoke with indicated that they are not going away.  They have been waiting for a good time and place to express their deep concerns about the way our government works, and they have finally found what they’ve been looking for.

Bank of America Building - St. Louis, Missouri - Photo by Erich Vieth

In case anyone is concerned that I intentionally skewed my sampling regarding who I interviewed, this was my method:  I simply walked up to someone nearby and asked whether he or she would be willing to give a short statement about why they were attending the protest.   I approached 12 people.  One woman sympathetic to the protest apologized and said she couldn’t talk on camera because she was a member of the news media. One man said that he supported the protest, but he’d rather not go on camera.  Another man said he had never been part of a protest before, but he read about this protest recently and then said to himself, “Yeah, these people are right on these issues.”   The other nine people I approached agreed to give statements on camera.  I’d like to thank each of these folks for taking the time to talk (I’ve listed their names in the order in which they appear in my video):

  • Al Vitale
  • Fred Raines (a retired economics professor, who said that he compiled the statistics displayed on one of the signs appearing on the video)
  • Apollonia Childs
  • Chrissy Kirchhoefer
  • Curtis Roberts
  • Michel Kiepe
  • Jeff Schaefer
  • Matt Ankney, and
  • Frances Madeson

Based on the above video, there is no lack of intellectual moorings for this protest. The focus is that our government, including politicians of both major parties, has been substantially bought by big business, and many destructive things are flowing from the consequent misuse of government power.

About a dozen protesters have have formed a camp in Kiener Plaza, a public gathering spot across the street from the towering downtown headquarters of Bank of America. I was told by several protesters that some of the camping protesters had been evicted from the camp over the past week, but that the intent is nonetheless maintain a presence in Kiener Plaza indefinitely. The Bank of America building has been the geographical focus of other recent protests, including this one in August, 2011. (A payday loan protest by a group called GRO occurred at this same bank last year–here’s video).  I should note that most of the people who work in the huge Bank of America building work for companies other than the Bank of America, yet the building remains a symbol of what has gone so very wrong with the political process.

I’d also like to mention that the St. Louis Police, who were out in the hundreds, were courteous and professional.   The protesters were there merely to protest-to get their message out.  There were no untoward incidents that would distract from the central message of the protests.

For more on yesterday’s protest, see this description by St. Louis blogger Gloria Bilchik at Occasional Planet. See also, this post by another St. Louis blogger, Adam Shriver at St. Louis Activist Hub.

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Category: American Culture, Campaign Finance Reform, Civil Rights, Communication, Corporatocracy, Corruption, Current Events, Economy, Heroes, income disparity, law and order, Media, Politics, Protests and Actions, Quality of Life, Saint Louis, Social justice, Sustainable Living, United States foreign policy, Video by DI

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (10)

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  1. “One longtime money manager (…) added that he was disappointed that members of Congress from New York, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, had not come out swinging for an industry that donates heavily to their campaigns. “They need to understand who their constituency is,” he said. “
    from The New York Times – Business Day Column: In Private, Wall St. Bankers Dismiss Protesters as Unsophisticated By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ and ERIC DASH
    Published: October 14, 2011
    I guess that Simon Cameron was right when he said, “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Rejean: That is phenomenal. Truly. Thanks for sharing. I think that must be the tertiary stage of corruption, when the politicians and their keepers start blurting out these kinds of things because they think they are invulnerable.

  2. Jim Razinha says:

    Nice, Erich. Occupy Dallas was going to be evicted, but according to this (local PBS station) KERA report today

    Attorneys for Occupy Dallas, this morning, dropped their request for a judge to block the city from evicting the Pioneer Plaza campers. Under an agreement reached with the city, protesters may set up camp behind Dallas City Hall, and remain there until mid-December.

    I’ve been hearing a lot about the “right” wing media’s disparaging, insulting, despicable comments with respect to the Occupy movement. The Big Money Corps must be worrying how much money it has to dump into MocksNews and Limbaugh, et al to keep the attacks coming.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: I think you’re correct, that it’s going to take untold amount of spinning and money by the pro-Wall-Street gang to keep this genie in the bottle.

  3. Thanks Erich. Too often I see the mass media portray these protests as fanatical/imbecilic. It’s awesome to see that not only are there great writers willing to spread the truth of what’s going on, but that there are also those willing to listen. This truly is a moment of great change in the world. Every movement starts with this; a great and powerful awakening is occurring around us. People are no longer satisfied by what has become the status quo, and the one quiet demand for change is growing into a shout that cannot be ignored. Only in numbers do we have our power. United we stand. Divided by none.

  4. MikeFitz17 says:

    Great video, Eric. Really enjoyed it.

    But could you find someone else beside Rush Limbaugh whose foul, specious arguments you can cite, fulminate against and rebut?

    Let’s face it: That pompous jackass has long since moved beyond the point of being a straw man. Everything — EVERYTHING — he says has been shown to be a lie. The man is worst kind of opportunist. The lies that emanate from his mouth are never uttered based on his feelings, but are calculated strictly according to a formula aimed at agitating his followers and ramping up ratings.

    Case in point: Limbaugh’s recent rant that Obama’s decision to send 100 military advisers into Uganda to guide the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the most vile and crazy terrorist groups in the world, is part of Obama’s “war” on Christians. Say what you will about Obama’s motives for sending in the advisers, but anyone with the brains to Google the LRA will soon learn this group is so over-the-top brutal and nasty that they make Al-Qaeda look like a bunch of peace-loving yoga instructors.

    The truth means absolutely nothing to Limbaugh. The only things that do are fame and money.

    So could you find another rightwing windbag to cite, someone with a little more gravitas and credibility, say, Michelle Bachmann?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      MikeFitz: I referred to Rush because I was in a car, and he was on the station my radio happened to be set to. I know that lots of others conservatives and “moderates” hold the same views but Limbaugh is willing to say this kind of stuff without sugar coating it. I have to give this to him, even though I consider him to be a hate-monger and a disingenuous clown who wants to rev up his audience with divisiveness to an extent that the confirmation bias takes over and keeps them in ignorance indefinitely. I do think it’s important to force myself to listen closely to others who disagree. Often, there’s something interesting driving them along, even when the public message sounds convoluted, insincere, one-sided or silly. I recently subscribed to the National Review in order to stay in touch with many viewpoints that I know I’ll disagree with (Jonathan Haidt had suggested this, and I think he’s right http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/02/20/affirmative-action-for-conservatives/ ). I’m sure I’ll read many disparaging remarks about the Occupy protesters there.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Here’s another video based on the St. Louis Occupy protests:

    Occupy St. Louis 10/14/11 from Jarred Gastreich on Vimeo.

  6. Just as people are moving their banking concerns to local credit unions or local banks, we as citizens have the right to file tax exempt on our payrolls. As of January 1st I will file tax exempt w/ my employer, then in the following April when I file my tax return w/ the IRS (and will probably owe taxes) I will acknowledge that debt and ask for a payment program. What will happen in that 2 year period if we get enough people to go along with this is to make Washington finally realize that it’s “We The People” who hold the our democracy together not politicians and special interest groups or lobbyist. I find it ironic that no media outlet or talk has asked or suggested of our elected officials that THEY take a paycut or wage freeze or bear more of tax payer provided health and welfare benefits costs. They are out of control parasites who threaten us w/ taking away our financial and social well being if we don’t knuckle under to their insanity. WE PAY more than our fairshare and THEY are the ones who have violated their frudiciary responsibilities to the public good. The poor,the elderly, the disabled and veterans should not be asked to make even more sacrifices while they (the politicians) suffer no loss of income or financial security and enjoy privledges beyond that of any citizen.

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    The City of St. Louis is using the excuse of a christmas tree to kick the Saint Louis Occupy protesters out of Kiener Plaza. http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2011/11/05/you’re-kidding-city-favors-christmas-tree-over-occupiers/

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