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Why You Should Expect A Lot More From Connecticut's Occupy Protesters In 2012

They'll be back

By Gregory Hladky

December 14, 2011

“I think it would be a sad occurrence for the unions … or anyone to try and co-opt them,” says Marks.

Labor officials, of course, deny they're trying to manipulate the Occupy movement.

“It's understandable,” Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for the Service Employees International Union Connecticut State Council, says of the concerns some occupiers have about being gobbled up by mainstream groups. “The reality is that cooperation doesn't lead to co-opting of any agenda of allies engaged in the same struggle.”

“We have very similar goals,” O'Connor adds. He says those include fighting against “the lack of good jobs, and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few, primarily the corporations that have been running this country for years.”

That wariness of being sucked up by labor or left-wing activist groups such as MoveOn.org hasn't stopped the Connecticut occupiers from reaching out to all those organizations for general support and cooperation.

“I imagine some folks will work with the Democrats, some with the unions,” Strong says.

Digirolamo insists the occupiers “need to work with all groups, because we have the same goals.” She argues unions, community organizations and other activist groups “are stepping up, fighting for their rights, fighting for what they believe in.”

That doesn't mean that every traditional activist group has embraced or been embraced by the Occupy movement in this state.

“I've never had a conversation with any of them,” says Scott X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “And I'm very much surprised about that.”

“I don't know who they have at the table. I don't know who they want at the table,” Esdaile adds. “They've joined up with the unions, but I know there's a lack of diversity in the leadership of the unions too, and we've challenged that in the past.”

“I respect what they're doing,” he says. “I would love for us to all sit down and talk. I would love to talk to them.”

It may be that the Occupy movement is simply too new and heading in too many directions at the same time for anyone to get a complete handle on things yet.

“It's just so hard right now,” explains Digirolamo when asked about the NAACP, “trying to get in touch with all kinds of groups. … Anybody willing to work with us, we'd love to talk with them.”

“There's no way we'll ever be able to counter the influence of extreme wealth unless we stick together,” says Bauer.

Digirolamo, who says she hasn't been able to finish college because of the ever-increasing cost of tuition, is quietly confident this movement she's joined will last through the cold times and beyond.

“We've been winterizing,” she says, reaching down to scratch her dog's ears. “We all became a family so quickly, taking care of each other.”

How long will it all last?

According to Digirolamo, “Until we see real change, until our government starts doing things for people and not for Wall Street and all big business.”

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Advocate.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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