Occupy Wall Street, Seen Through The Lens of a Newcomer

While our reporters were covering yesterday’s student walkout at Washington Square Park, The Local sent photographer and community contributor Rachel Citron to capture the action further downtown. Here’s a slideshow of her photographs, followed by her thoughts about what she saw.

In the past days, photographs of the Occupy Wall Street protestors and videos of their anti-government chants have become ubiquitous. So has the controversy. When I emerged from the City Hall subway station yesterday afternoon – new to the scene – I expected a hodgepodge of hippies and hipsters trying to catch a spirit of activism that seems to have alluded our generation. To my surprise and excitement, I found prescient issues being protested, many of which affect East Village residents.

I was fortunate enough to encounter several staff members of the Lower Eastside Girls Club, a non-profit group dedicated to helping girls and young women. It provides a safe haven – one of the few of its kind – for its members to grow, learn, and participate in a variety of enrichment programs. These eight women were just a small sampling of the many East Villagers who marched in solidarity with the movement. NYU and New School students took to the streets to protest their gargantuan student loans. Many of these students hoped to become teachers, and feared they would be eternally in debt.

Though a few seemed more interested in communicating “good vibes,” the overwhelming majority came to protest the growing disparity between rich and poor – and the loss of programs and opportunities for the middle and working class that seem to go hand-in-hand with budget cuts.

And so it turns out Occupy Wall Street is a worthy cause. I can only imagine more East Village brethren will join the ranks as it continues to grow.