Last week I stood my ground and spoke to Wall Street. Wall Street heard me. I would like it to hear you too.
On April 20, I laid down with six other protesters in front of the New York Stock Exchange. We held up handmade cardboard signs that described our lived experiences of injustice. Within minutes, we were arrested. It was my first arrest, and it was a clarifying experience.
Our actions, though protected under the 2000 court ruling (Metro Council v. Safir) were more than simply legal; they were necessary. In a world where public space is becoming increasingly sparse and access to the commons is sold to the highest bidder, the sidewalk is sadly one of the last public gathering spaces in which true democracy can take root; and even that is threatened.
The seven of us dared to speak about the human cost of Wall Street’s actions, and even though we were within the law, we were all arrested. At this moment we heard Wall Street speak. It told us that even though we stood on legal and moral ground, it had the power make up the rules as it went along.
But the people are not so easily fooled. Even as police escorted us to the paddy wagon, we were cheered as heroes. While I sat in jail for 5 hours, my resolve did not once falter. When I emerged to a crowd of friends my spirits had not been dampened. I was supposed to feel punished. Instead I felt vindicated.
My arrest is not a burden; it is a badge of honor. It means I did not stand idly by as corporate power crushed democracy; it means I stood up and spoke truth to power, and power heard me.
This Friday I invite you to make your voice heard. Stand with me on Wall Street as together we show the world that a simple honest cardboard sign can be more powerful than trillions in extorted profit.