Music, marching on Occupy agenda
NEW YORK (AP) – Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City went old school Tuesday as activist musicians David Crosby and Graham Nash delivered a touch of Woodstock, plans for a march to Washington were unveiled and some participants practiced another kind of democracy – voting.
Demonstrators have been making their voices heard in the nation’s town squares for some time now, and the spirit of protest has remained paramount. At Zuccotti Park, Crosby and Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, were the latest entertainers to lend their talents to the cause.
The white-haired duo led a chant of “No More War!” and played a 20-minute acoustic performance for about 1,000 protesters and onlookers who stood elbow-to-elbow and spilled out of the lower Manhattan park onto nearby streets.
There was an air of nostalgia – and the smell of marijuana – wafting over the crowd as the pair had fans humming along to hits like “Teach Your Children Well,” from the 1971 Deja Vu album, and “Long Time Gone,” from their first album.
Teenager Tyler Westcott wasn’t around when Crosby and Nash made it big, but knew well the impact they made.
“These relics of Woodstock came and supported our movement,” said the 19-year-old college student from Hunt, N.Y., his voice rising with excitement. “It’s wild, how things line up. What you have here is the New Left from the Vietnam era – and the new left here now.”
Last month, folk music legend Pete Seeger and ’60s folk singer Arlo Guthrie joined Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in their campaign against what they call corporate greed. Recently, rappers Talib Kweli, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco visited protesters in the park. In California, hiphop heavyweights MC Hammer, Raymond “Boots” Riley and Mistah FAB have stopped by encampments.
Taking the Occupy protest on the road to the country’s elected officials was also on the agenda Tuesday.
A small group of Occupy Wall Street activists will start a march Wednesday with the hope of arriving in Washington on Nov. 23, the deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Barack Obama’s extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.
Kelley Brannon is organizing the 240-mile march through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland with a core group of a dozen activists. They hope to pick up other marchers along the way – even if for a day, or only an hour.
“Occupy the Highway” – as it’s been dubbed – will start from the Manhattan park and continue with a ferry ride across the Hudson River to Elizabeth, N.J.
Brannon likened the effort to the long-distance marches led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., during the civil rights era.
But a day before beginning the march begins, some protesters recognized Tuesday as an election day in the U.S, and cast their vote in some of the many local races and higher-profile races being decided in several states.
Tom Hagan, a 61-year-old salesman from Queens and a Vietnam War veteran, flashed a big smile as he stood in the Zuccotti Park with a sign that read: “Election Day Sale. Buy One Politician. Get One Free.”
Hagan, a registered Democrat, said he votes in every election, including Tuesday’s. He also said he had come to the Occupy protest “because our democracy is for sale; we don’t have a representative democracy anymore.”