Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Age divides the small crowd at Occupy Charleston

A tale of two revolutions

Posted by Chris Haire on Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Upon first glance, Occupy Charleston is different from the Occupy Wall Street-inspired events around the country.

Whereas the other occupations seem to be largely made up of feisty young whippersnappers, the occupation of Brittlebank Park appears to be nothing more than a dozen or so old white people gathered around a coffee table piled high with pizza boxes. Oh, and half a bag of Rold Gold pretzels. And some chunks of pineapple in a tupperware container. And some brown stuff which may have been brownies.

But if you looked to a 30 or so yards away from the pizza party you'd see two small gatherings of young people, the kind that look very much like the ones that we've seen being hassled by cops in New York or marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. Look a little bit further away and you'd see few more young people, but not too many — one or two here, three or four there.

This division between the young and the old is something that no one really wants to talk about at Brittlebank Park, but you can sense that they understand that there is a fundamental difference between the groups.

And there is.

The young folks are here to camp. To occupy Brittlebank Park.

The older folks are here to protest for an hour or so and head home. They are tourists to the revolution.

And it's depressing.

So utterly depressing.

Especially when the TV news crews and the newspaper reporters arrive. They all go straight to the center of the gathering, the tent around which the gray hairs have gathered, and they begin pinching off protestors to interview. The younger protestors seem wary of the TV cameras, and the television crews stay away from them.

It's strange to think that when it comes to Occupy Charleston, it's moment in time will be remembered as a gathering of retirees and working seniors on their days off.

That's not to say that they aren't a lovely bunch. They are. Each one gladly answers questions from the media, and each answer is thoughtful and articulate. As a whole, they want an end to corporate lobbying and the overturn of the Citizens United decision.

But the truth of the matter is they aren't the Occupy movement.

The young organizers of the event note that the core group of Occupy Charleston — an estimated 50 or so members — will likely show up sometime after 5 p.m. once they get off work. And many, if not most of them, will be camping over night. In fact, many of the younger protestors are actively engaged in putting up their tents and prepping for the night while the older, passing protestors nibble on pizza and pontificate for the cameras.

And while it may seem like the war is lost before the first battle has even begun, that may not be true. The revolution can still be won. It just won't be televised.

At least not tonight.

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