“Hartford schools don’t have any money, but CEOs are making thousands of dollars per hour,” Frank O’Gorman answered when asked why he took part in the Occupy Hartford march that snaked through Downtown during evening rush hour Friday. The few hundred protestors walked from along Bushnell Park to Gold Street, Main Street, and then Asylum Street; they ended in “Turning Point Park,” the former location of Hartford High School, on the corner of Asylum and Broad Street.
Julia B. Rosenblatt of HartBeat Ensemble, marched with her family. Explaining her participation, she said, “I’ve had enough.” Rosenblatt added that she is “thrilled” about the action taking place. Nicholas Wolf of Hartford said that the march is about “economic inequality.”
When pressed about what actions the organization would be taking beyond sleeping in the park near I-84, nobody seemed to know much. Rosenblatt said that the “plan is being made as it goes,” but she did say there would be more outreach to those in the community who, because of lack of internet access or being too busy trying to support their families, are so far unaware of Occupy Hartford. Rosenblatt said flyers would be distributed and that people would stand outside of places frequented by locals, like the Stop and Shop, Wal-Mart, and libraries. O’Gorman added that outreach committee members would also head to community centers and churches. He called this march the “official kickoff” for the group.
The protest, Wolf said, was “a visual of a problem that exists.” That problem, he said, was “disenfranchisement.”
The march received attention from the captive audience of people at bus shelters and people stuck in traffic. One man, driving a large, gleaming black SUV stuck his head out the window and hollered for activists to get out of his way; at this point, protestors were crossing a street, which the police had blocked so that they could do so safely.
Back at the corner of Asylum and Broad, activists gathered around to talk about their next steps. Rufus, who provided no last name, spoke about the MDC Clean Water Project, which he said is costing $2.1 million (The MDC site states this project will cost over $1 billion). He told the group that there would be a protest outside of the MDC on Main Street every Wednesday at noon because they have made no attempt to hire from within the community.
Another activist announced an anti-war march would be taking place on October 16th at 2pm, but details on that were less clear. Rally participants around me had trouble hearing this as well, even though the group was echoing everything that the person speaking was saying.
Alice Leibowitz described the march as “cooler and more energetic” than anything she has seen happen in Hartford in the last fifteen years.
Another speaker, who could actually be heard without help from the activists playing role of chorus, yelled to the crowd: “My name is Malcolm and I am serious about change.” He said, “I was born in Hartford and I will die in Hartford.”
Some activists showed up with sleeping bags, intending to spend the night in the park. As of dusk, there were no portable toilets in the area.
Everyone I spoke with commented that the turnout for this event was much larger than they had anticipated. People came from New Haven, Rocky Hill, Willimantic, and even Massachusetts for the march.
Not everyone in the crowd was supportive. On the edges of the park, one man was overheard telling a woman that “[the activists] think it’s going to be like the 60’s again” and “this is the beginning of the end.”
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Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
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