Charlotte Murphy ’12: Why I Occupied Wall Street In The Farmers’ March
When I first saw the email from Mrs. Armiger about the Food Democracy Now! Farmers’ March on Wall Street, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to participate. In my Environmental Issues Analysis class, we had been talking about some of the issues that farmers are facing with Monsanto owning the majority of crop seeds on the earth. Because of their patents on life (Monsanto owns over 11,000 patents on seeds, animals and even human genetics) many farmers can no longer save their seed as they have been doing for thousands of years, and they can be sued for trying to do so.
Many people are against Occupy Wall Street for their own reasons but the fact is that we as “the people,” the citizens of the United States, have rights given to us in the Constitution that are steadily being taken away. Due to our ability to protest and express our opinions in a public place we are choosing to do so. The Farmers’ March was a way of demonstrating our beliefs to the rest of the world, not just the people on Wall Street.
By going to New York last weekend, I thought that I would be helping the idea that with numbers we can make the 1% see how much we want change to take place in our country and in the world. The arguments that I have heard regarding demonstrators “disturbing the peace” are just an excuse to try and push us away. To disturb the peace is exactly the point. We are trying to wake people up; to get them to see just how poorly the political-economic system is serving the needs of the citizens of this country and of the world.
To get to the march on December 4th, two other students, my teacher, Mrs. Armiger and I traveled by car to Stamford, Connecticut where we took the Metro North to Grand Central Station. From there we took the subway to a stop near the meeting place of the march, La Plaza Cultural Community Garden. When we first showed up at the protest, a microphone was immediately shoved into our faces and my fellow student, Kathryn Lyle was asked to talk about why she was participating in the march—she was completely taken off guard but she did the best she could to explain how we were learning about the way big agribusiness corporations were taking the power away from small farmers.
We brought a big sign with us to New York—on one side, the sign said Food is for Life, not Profit, and on the other side it said Seeds are for Saving, not Patenting. Holding the sign for some time, I noticed people looking at it and smiling. True, we were at a protest against unlabeled GMOs and the injustices of big corporations like Monsanto, but it was nice to see so much agreement and togetherness achieved through the same strong opinions.
Marching through the streets of New York City felt amazing because we were shouting and chanting together not separately. We chanted things like “Who’s Food, Our Food” and “We are Unstoppable, a New Food System is Possible!” The chants seemed to get louder and more powerful the closer we got to Wall Street. Somehow we all ended up right up at the front of the march holding a sign for the National Young Farmers Coalition. Camera flashes were going off left and right. Once the march reached it’s completion we were again presented with microphones and cameras from independent media and reporters asking us to talk about our experience and why we felt it was important to be there. I believe that there is no way that I as one person can make a difference in our corporate corrupted government, but I like to think that by participating in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, maybe the world will start to pay attention and try to work WITH us to create a healthier, more democratic food system and a more socially and environmentally just political-economic system.