“Occupying” Pittsburgh: What’s it all about?

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“Occupying” Pittsburgh: What’s it all about?

Lewis 'Caz' Tidrick

Lewis 'Caz' Tidrick

Lewis 'Caz' Tidrick

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For those who haven’t seen the news lately, there has been a protest against BNY Mellon and big business greed in general. It began on the 15th and hasn’t stopped since. So far the protesters have been able to stay on the BNY Mellon property “provided no harm comes to people or property” says Chris Potter of the City Paper who wrote an article on this very subject.

After reading this, I became motivated to actually talk to one of the protesters in person. As I walked past the Dunkin’ Donuts, I immediately saw the cardboard signs. One of my favorites is placed right at the entrance and reads “I couldn’t afford a Lobbyist that’s why I made this sign.” Walking past that, you see another cardboard sign that reads “Write Down Your Debt”. When I read it I almost wanted to cry for these people who were $30,000 in debt and higher. And then of course, there are those people who decide to be rude and write things like “Well, it’s your fault you’re in debt, you didn’t manage your money well enough”…which drew the response of someone pointing out that they basically were born into their debt and the college students who are in debt because of the student loans also had their say.

Past the signs and the fence around the fountain, there is a sea of tents and wood/cardboard walkways with protesters hanging out with friends, apparently ready for questions. So, I walked up to a group and asked them if I could ask a few questions about their rallies and whatnot. One of the guys was of course on his guard, worried about who I was with (newspaper wise) so I told him it was for school and he offered me a seat so I could pick his brain.

We started up the conversation by me explaining to him-who introduced himself as Don-that I’d been following the Occupy Pittsburgh protests since they started on the 15th, but also told him that the news never really went into detail about what exactly they were protesting about. Don explained that what they were protesting is basically a mash-up of similar ideas that have been worded differently, but the main point is that they’re going up against big corporations to change the way things are. Most of the people there are middle class, and what I mean by middle class is that they’re people who don’t make enough money to get loans and things but can’t afford them on their own.

Continuing the conversation, I asked him if he thought that BNY Mellon is at all worried about them protesting and also living on Mellon Green. Don explained to me that if they were concerned even a tiny bit that they would have tried to remove them already. Then thinking about the problems they’ve been having in NYC, I asked him if the police or public have been causing trouble to which he replied that the protesters were actually the ones that were instigating the police, “they’re definitely more headstrong than we are” says Don. Going along with police questions, I overheard some people talking about a ‘night-watch’, and he explained that it was a group of people that would walk around and just keep an eye on things at night, and him being ex-military, he ended up being the head of that department. So, I can only assume that they had agreed to a non-violence type protests.

Speaking of protests, we started talking about how many people had showed up to live on the Green and how many people went to the initial rally. The number of tents that are there is around 30-50 and the number of people who are actually staying there ranges from 100-150. At the first rally, however, it was estimated that there were 3,400 to 3,500 people who attended.

Don even said that if Mellon doesn’t kick them off of their property then they are prepared to stay there forever if that’s what it takes.

I found it amazing that a group of people can organize like this-you hear of protests and uprisings and things like that but you never actually are there to experience it. It astounds me how well they work together and how dedicated they…(if only politicians could take example) *cough cough*. But what also is really surprising to me is that Mellon doesn’t seemed to be concerned, I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of people speaking out against them and they don’t even blink an eye!

Well, only time will tell us what is going to happen. If anyone has a question they would like me to ask the protesters, please feel free to come find me, leave a comment, or tell Mr. Kocur and he’ll relay the message to me.

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