Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog

« Movies You Missed 7: The Strange Case of Angélica | Main | Grazing: Pesto Trapanese »

October 07, 2011

A Vermonter on Wall Street: 'I Knew This Is Where I Had to Be'

IMG_0799 NEW YORK — Despite the looming skyscrapers and the fidgety cops, many Vermonters might feel right at home in Liberty Plaza, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street uprising.

Ian Williams and TC Kida (pictured at right) certainly find the scene congenial. When not marching on Lower Manhattan's citadels of capitalism, the two Vermonters have been spending the past few days talking politics and lifestyle philosophies with some of the hundreds of young agitators congregated in this roughly one-acre space surrounded by banks, drug stores, electronics outlets and fast-food joints.

Williams, a McGill University graduate from Enosburg Falls, arrived here after taking part in a protest in Boston last weekend against Bank of America. “Something just awakened in me,” the bearded 26-year-old said, explaining that he quit his temp job in a Williston warehouse because “I knew this is where I had to be.”

Kida, a Japanese American from Essex, is in the process of moving to Brooklyn with his girlfriend, Keely Robinson, who has been camping out with him in Liberty Plaza for the past week. Kida has been doing disaster-relief work since Katrina leveled the Gulf Coast in 2005. He has also run a volunteer project in Haiti.

“What's happening here is highlighting similarities to what I've seen,” Kida says, raising his voice because of the chanting and drumming reverberating from the plaza across the street. “With Katrina and with Haiti, it's the most vulnerable people who have to bear the brunt of inequalities.”

IMG_0813 For Williams, who worked with Somali Bantus in Burlington as an Americorps organizer, the free-flow occupation of Liberty Plaza gives concrete form to his readings in anarchist theory. With helpings of hot food available to all who want it and with dancers swaying next to sleepers, this do-what-you-wish gathering resembles a Phish concert for militants.

“The most exciting thing about this is our nonviolence,” Kida says. “All the trouble has been instigated by the police.”

Gentleness was more evident than anger on a soft October night lit in part by lamps strung on the skeleton of a tower rising where the World Trade Center had stood. The few trees in Liberty Plaza bear signs urging respect for their fragility; a giant red geometric sculpture stands untagged; trash and recyclables get deposited in designated receptacles.

With a “Ron Paul for President” sign bobbing not far from a crayoned piece of cardboard reading “Occupy Everything,” the participants seem diverse in their ideologies. The sole conclusion they share may be the one offered by Williams: “Wealth in this country is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer institutions and individuals.”

IMG_0810 Almost everyone in the plaza might also agree with Williams' observation that “our representatives in Congress don't really represent us. They represent the lobbyists who pay them.”

And does he think that's the case in Vermont? “To some extent, yes,” Williams replies. “They're also politicians who bring in pork whether it's good or not.”

What about Bernie Sanders, whose career-long anti-corporate tirades appear to have finally struck a national nerve? “Bernie's got the right message,” Williams says. “He should be here.”

Neither of the Vermonters felt certain about whether the revolt will grow larger, how long it will last and what might result from it.

“No one can predict what's going to happen,” Kida says. “That's the magic of this.”

Williams, who says he may eventually get a PhD in history, takes the long view. Noting that earlier in the day he had seen a young woman dressed like the early 20th century anarcho-socialist Emma Goldman, Williams says, “There's a legacy that we're part of and that we'll pass on. Even if this seems to fizzle out, even if the outcome is hard to measure,” he adds, “you can be sure it will lead to change.”

“No one can predict what's going to happen,”

I can:

Polticians will still indemnify the big banks and others who underwrite their campaigns, loan them private jets and send call girls to their hotel rooms.

Good luck boys, free macaroni isn't much of a weapon against all that.

"“The most exciting thing about this is our nonviolence"

Uh... what?

"Even if this seems to fizzle out, even if the outcome is hard to measure,” he adds, “you can be sure it will lead to change.”"


"Williams, who says he may eventually get a PhD in history"


Growing student protests have a history of - growing. This may be one of those that just keeps moving on and begins to collect other disenfranchised groups along the way. My prediction is that the timing for this one is just about right. By next fall this will be a full fledged movement which will have a major impact on the elections. Bye, bye to a number of engrained politicians.

"this do-what-you-wish gathering resembles a Phish concert for militants."

Yup, that about sums it up

@ ReelVermonter:

"Bye, bye to a number of engrained politicians."

By that I assume you mean the drooling Pat Leahy (US Senator since 1974) and the obnoxious Bernie Sanders (US Rep/Senator since 1990)?

BTW, the New York Times has an article today on what personal pigs the protesters are being in the Wall Street neighborhood, to local residents and businesses.

"Movements" are unpredictable in terms of specifics. The ingrained politicians most at risk for this movement are probably those who have continuously not only defended "Wall Street" and large corporations, but have helped passed laws which favor same over the people. This is becoming class warfare with its roots in the Middle East. We may all have to decide if we are with the 99% or the 1%.

"This is becoming class warfare with its roots in the Middle East."

Huh? There's a lot of conspiratorial bizareness at work here. Are you against the Trilateral Commission, too? Is the Queen of England really an international drug dealer?

There is no conspiracy here, just a people's movement. Sarah, you can make a series of snide remarks, if you want, but the people's movement is growing. It is that concept that is taken from the Middle Eastern conflicts. I do not see armed revolution, but I do see other revolutionary practices, ie; boycotts of selected corporations, moving one's money from national and international banks to local ones and more. Peaceful revolutions take a long time, but they do happen. Stay tuned, Sarah, you may be in for a ride.

"“Something just awakened in me,” the bearded 26-year-old said, explaining that he quit his temp job in a Williston warehouse because “I knew this is where I had to be.”"

You quit your job to hang out in NYC? Great. Since NYC is "where you had to be," let me suggest that you stay there. Burlington has enough professional agitators already.

Wow, I'm surprised by the cynicism in these comments, especially after all of you SevenDays readers were so quick to rally against the dissing of Phish fans on a sevendays blog last month. Now you're using the same tactics to dis the protesters. Man, that is so weak and ad-hominem, not to mention hypocritical!

Like it or not, this is what happens when a large mass of educated people are unemployed during a recession triggered by an out-of-control tradition of corporate greed. By some of the anti-intellectualist comments on here, your awareness of this point is clear even if your acknowledgment of it is not.

I'm sorry, but what in the world is so hard to understand about the comment: "Even if this seems to fizzle out, even if the outcome is hard to measure,” he adds, “you can be sure it will lead to change.”

Maybe I would understand a little better if you responded to it with something more than "Huh?", as if it's beneath you to even engage your in critical thinking.

I in fact, completely agree. Buckminster Fuller said the "Universe is non-simultaneously apprehended." What that means is you haven't seen this before, so stop pretending you have. Sorry, but you can't predict what will happen, I would bet on it. This is a post-modern revolution, in the spirit of Zapatismo and the similar social-media-spun revolutionary activities that have happened in the Middle East. It has not yet happened here before. The Gund Institute at Burlington's own UVM, the biggest academic cohort of ecological economists in the world, has been pushing the same point for years about the fact that we have to build emergence and unpredictability into our economic and political systems. Wake up, people!

Just let people air their grievances, that is what protesting and assembling is for. Even if you don't agree, why all the disrespect and attack on personal character? A Poll on Fox news this morning that measures whether readers agree or disagree with the protesters message has received a 65% response of "Yes, we do agree", probably much to the surprise of Fox.

A point does need to be made through these protests, and the collective disrespect aired by our fellow Americans will only serve as more incentive for us to make that point known. As Marcos said "Sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution." (And yes, it is a sort of revolution. The meaning of "revolution" is changing as modes of cultural transmission change, you can't keep "revolution" in the history books.)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684