The “Occupy” movement has steadily encompassed major metropolitan areas across the nation as discontent spreads among Americans who have faced hardships in this harsh economic climate. Protesters have gathered here in Raleigh on the Capitol Grounds carrying signs and camping out to protest what they see as too much “corporate influence over our elections and political process.”
Since beginning their protesting, they have had two run-ins with police when they failed to comply with orders regarding trespassing—resulting in arrests both times. Furthermore, these protesters have begun to cost the Raleigh police department in overtime pay as the police monitor the area in case protesters break the law again.
The most popular slogan of the Occupy movement has been “We are the 99%,” referring to the fact that, in their opinion, 1 percent of the United States’ population controls a disproportionate amount of the nation’s wealth. However, the ideological makeup of these protesters comprises a significantly smaller percentage of American political thought.
Indeed, many of them espouse fringe politics further left than most Democrats are willing to go and have ties with very liberal organizations. A closer examination of some of the protesters arrested in Raleigh reveals a movement not of average citizens, but of career agitators.
About as far left as possible, Mr. Benjamin Caroll has been involved in numerous liberal organizations (in both North Carolina and Wisconsin) and was arrested as part of the Occupy Raleigh movement. He is an organizer of Raleigh F.I.S.T., an openly socialist organization. On their website, Caroll published an article criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s attempt to reduce the power of public sector unions and the possibility of cutting in-state tuition for illegal immigrants in order to balance the state budget. Locally Raleigh FIST was very involved in the demonstrations and disruptions against the Wake County School Board. He has also written for Workers World, another leftist group, supporting protests against the North Carolina General Assembly’s education budget cuts necessary to balance the state budget. In addition, his article for the Bailout People Movement decries the efforts of Gov. Walker to reduce the burdening power of public sector unions.
Another two activists, Angaza Laughinghouse and Margaret Schucker, were mentioned by Indy Week as members of leftist organizations. They describe Laughinghouse as a veteran organizer for Black Workers for Justice, a left-leaning organization, who helped bring several supporters to Occupy Raleigh when their numbers began to dwindle. Schucker, the handicapped woman whose arrest riled up several protesters, had protested before as a member of Code Pink—a women-initiated liberal-issue organization. The Indy Week article also mentioned Dani Moore, who has an article reflecting on the Occupy movement on Progressive Pulse, a liberal blog site.
Carissa Samara, another one of the protesters arrested for trespassing, is loosely affiliated with Code Pink, as she signed one of their petitions, and wrote a guest column for the Triangle LGBT’s publication. The column mostly decries issues of poverty and ways the LGBT community can alleviate it.
Yet another arrestee is George Gulino. Though he has no notable organizational attachments, he claimed that a video titled Rainbow Warriors was his primary inspiration for participating in the Occupy Raleigh movement. In sum, this video is a radical espousal of environmental fascism and socialism implying the use of violence.
Finally, there is Occupy Raleigh’s chief organizer Stacie Borello who founded Liberal Lamp Post, a blatantly liberal organization which advocates leftist causes and candidates such as Obama while denouncing conservatives.
Though the Occupy movement may claim to be independent of parties, many members of the group find common ground with leftist organizations and causes– such as the redistribution of wealth – which some Democrats themselves support. Even in the latest September Civitas Poll, only 52 percent say that the government should redistribute wealth by increasing taxes on the wealthy—much of which the John Locke Foundation considers a result of the lack of information. That’s a far cry from being the 99 percent.
Far from representing the views of a vast majority of U.S. citizens, the self-appointed “99 percent” actually is largely composed of fringe radicals, holding extreme views that most find threatening to individual liberty.