To the Editor:
I felt very compelled to write in response to Michael Fontes letter ["Hardly Dr. King's formula," January 18] about his interpretation of the Occupy movement. I am behind his initial sentiments in his first paragraph, where he speaks of the vision Dr Martin Luther King Jr. espoused – a dream where everyone would live in mutual respect, brotherhood, love and peace, and where individuals would only be judged by the content of their character. The next two paragraphs saddened me deeply by his incorrect information and lack of understanding of the people who make up the 99 percent.The faces of these people are the pensioners who saw their savings disappear, the factory worker who saw his job shipped overseas and is now on food stamps and had to pull his kids out of college; the waitress who broke her leg and couldn’t work and is now homeless because she had no health insurance. We all know these people, they are our friends, our neighbors, and even our family members. As Dr. King said in “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence,” “…we must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”
Bishop Gene Robinson said of his visit to one of the Occupy sites, where he saw community, people feeding each other, housing each other, free medical care and free libraries.
There were sanitation crews at all the sites. There were those to help in security. Bicycle-run generators were used. The “garbage” left behind was the result of police with tremendous force evicting those individuals so quickly and forcibly that they were not able to take any of their possessions.
Tents were ripped apart, items strewn, unfortunately by the police. Mind you, I am not condemning police at all. It was a situation I am sure most would have preferred not to be in. I don’t quite understand that we send our soldiers abroad to fight for freedoms and civil liberites, we celebrate the demonstrations of the Arab Spring, but condemn our fellow Americans.
When you had a safe situation where free food and housing is offered, yes, you will attract some homeless and troubled people for sure. Those were the exception, not the majority. There were even instances of drunks and drug addicts picked up at other parks in NYC by the police and dropped off at Zuccoti park to foment trouble and bad publicity. The occupants had their own security to help create a safe environment for all.
Anti-capitalist? I don’t agree there either. Anti-greed, the severe income disparity, corporations are not people and business having too much influence over our government, now that I can agree with. I think it is truly patriotic to want to have our government be representative of its people.
I believe, differing from Mr Fontes, that the movement indeed reflects the philosophy of the great Dr. King. To quote again from Dr. King, “Let us be those creative dissenters who will call our beloved nation to a higher destiny, to a new plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression of humanness.”