The Occupy Wall Street demonstration in NYC has caused similar demonstrations across the country. Occupy Orlando began at 8am on Saturday October 15th at the Orlando Chamber of Commerce. The protest's aim was to unite the 99% of Americans struggling to survive today's economy. The organizers asked people to come out not just as individuals but as participating citizens of society. I parked several blocks away expecting a large crowd. As I walked closer I heard the voices over loudspeakers. The crowd wasn't as large as I expected. There were perhaps a hundred people in the public park carrying signs and milling about. There were so many cameras that I thought the media accounted for a quarter of the people there.
I immediately focused on the group of people meditating. I set up my artist stool and started to sketch. As I got lost in the details I relaxed and the din of the demonstrators grew quiet. The first person at the mic was a singer who unfortunately sang off key. A woman running for public office spoke of the day she took her child to Lake Eola to watch as the people feeding the homeless there were arrested. Her little boy couldn't understand why people would be arrested for feeding the hungry. The surreal is common in the City Beautiful.
At one point I found a TV cameraman blocking my view. A microphone was shoved in my face and I was being asked questions about the demonstration. I guess when the media get desperate they interview the media. The reporter's questions were argumentative so I lost interest and returned to my sketch. He seemed to want to imply that a corporation's only responsibility is to the stock holders. But I'm a stock holder who is losing money. I side with the protesters since I undeniably make less money than I did before 9-11. There were conspiracy theorists behind the mic who I didn't quite follow. Of course with all the invitations of free speech, a man stood on a milk crate with a bible in his hand and he shouted hell and damnation.
I had to be at work by 1pm. I finished the sketch of the silent meditators and realized I had time for one more short sketch. I sat near a group of children painting bright signs with finger paint. A young girl was making a sign with sharpies on foam core board. The sign read..."Dumbeldore would be Disappoint." Did she run out of room on the sign or did the sign simply not make any sense? One sign I did like was, "We need more Jobs."
There was going to be a march downtown. I decided I had to leave in case the march shut down the street I was parked on. The demonstration felt unfocused and splintered. The demonstration was peaceful with an undeniable dissatisfaction in government and corporations. As I left people were still arriving. One guy shouted to me, "Hey, your going the wrong way!" There may hare been close to a thousand people ready to march through downtown. Part of me was angry as I drove to work on a Saturday. I had a headache. I had red sugar coated aspirin but no water. I popped two aspirin in my mouth. I couldn't swallow them. The sweet coating wore off quickly and the sharp sour aspirin taste kicked in. I shoved the aspirin under my gums and it dissolved slowly leaving a bad taste in my mouth for hours.