Here are some comments from folks who were on the corner of Jefferson Ave. & Bartlett St. on Monday, Sept. 23, 2013
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It was refreshing to work an honest to goodness hood instead of standing in front of a silent, and mostly empty mausoleum. I also think that, more than ourselves, these are folk who “get it.” They may not know all the twists and turns of policy or whatever, but the do know what it feels like to get screwed. I imagine that the energy for really significant protest lies in the hood, since by in large for us a serious crunch is something we worry about in the bye and bye rather than the here and now.
My interest in the BoR org and our actions has always been predicated on the focus on the part of the banks. There are so many issues that dovetail with this that it becomes difficult to hold our focus on the banks. But I do not feel that moving into the hood adversely affects our focus. That is still what we choose it to be and I hope we can maintain a focus on the part the banks have played.
I was giving a flyer to a young man passing me to cross the street as I held my sign “LIVING WAGE JOBS NOT MORE WARS,” and he asked “Is this about a job?” And with some exasperation, “It’s not about a job?” I said “no, I’m sorry I can’t help you with that.” How will that flyer and our presence help him, who needs a job now, and will he even read it? I also wish we at least had quotes from MLK on the flyer.
I wonder again what goal we are trying to achieve in a neighborhood that experiences so much violence with all of the shootings/killings, police brutality, lack of jobs, lack of education, home foreclosures, lack of food, soon to be lack of food stamps, and other resources. And, if we continue to be in poor neighborhoods we should make sure our signs/posters are more appropriate.
We were glad to be in a neighborhood and away from the banks. Two years of raising a protest at the closed and sometimes locked doors of our local bastions of inequality and greed was something to be proud of but we need to be talking with the rest of the city. The whole country is beginning to see more and more people in the streets protesting numerous issues and voicing their discontent with our failing democracy. The numbers of people and the frequency of protest must increase. Our presence in the neighborhoods all over Rochester will spread the courage for others to join the protest. We may not agree within our tribe that this is important but we definitely are not appearing as organizers or “do-gooders” we are simply getting to know our neighbors, listening to their fears and struggles, sharing our own frustrations and (if asked) our knowledge, and bearing witness to our convictions that we have a right to demand an end to the inequality of opportunity that is causing intense suffering for more and more people all over the country.
One of the problems that we are facing in this country is the alienation of people from each other. Family members no longer live in the same city; many people no longer know their neighbors and make no effort to become acquainted; many people are afraid to go into other people’s neighborhoods. There is too much fear and too much competition generated by the media and the corporative advertisements. We come from an evolutionary history of tribalism. Most of us no longer have a tribe. The growing number of families and individuals that are on the brink of poverty and the growing number of people who are fearful that their progeny are facing incredible crises need to become a tribe again and help each other fight for a return to sanity. We are much more powerful than the 1%.
I had a similar experience as Jo; might have been the same man.Another young man asked me how his SSI could be raised. Some folks seemed to think that we were in a position to actually make something happen, in the short term. The fact that we are all white and none of us is poor suggests perhaps to some individuals that we have access or leverage they do not have. How do we disabuse those individuals of this assumption while still encouraging their participation in making change happen, in the long run? Of course others we met appreciate that we’re delivering our messages while at the same time soliciting their own views. and asking them to join us. But for so many the needs there are so immediate and raw and palpable, I share Jo’s bewilderment about what exactly we’re trying to achieve.