Last month, the GW Patriot covered the controversy surrounding Robert Stephens, the GW Law student who was arrested at the Occupy Wall Street protests. YouTube videos of Stephens, whom conservative host Glenn Beck mocked, circulated widely across liberal and conservative blogs – with liberal sources citing his heroism and conservative sources attacking his claims that Chase Bank was “taking” his family’s home.
The Patriot reported the story as The Blaze presented it, but I later felt that certain questions had been left unanswered. The only way to gather all the facts was to confront the issue head-on.
So on Tuesday, I joined Robert Stephens, who plans to plead guilty for disorderly conduct in New York, for a tour of the McPherson Square Park, where Occupy DC has rooted itself.
I spent the day talking with Robert, and he’s a nice guy. I thought most of the people at the camp were friendly and receptive to being filmed. The camp’s smell was not the most appealing, and the large number of homeless citizens roaming the camp did not inspire a true sense that the movement is a stable and focused group. However, the group seemed more organic and tame than their Wall Street counterparts – definitely more so than Occupy Oakland!
I asked a few people, including Robert, about the violence last weekend. Many shrugged it off, claiming that media reports were imbalanced against them (“the Koch brothers control the media”) or that the abuses which the police inflicted upon demonstrators were greater than the disruption. A young man in a suit, Michael Patterson, whom I recognized from a YouTube video of the chaos (you may remember a young man – in the same suit – yelling at a car accused of a hit-and-run), told me off-camera that “we should have never been there. We shouldn’t have blocked the doors of that building. It was a mistake. It won’t happen again.” He followed with accusing police officers of attempting to justify violent opposition by “[hiding] mace cans” among protestors.
I didn’t really come away with anything that I can quite describe: the group isn’t political; they are trying to create a new egalitarian society. Whether or not you buy into that is a personal decision.
I could write an opinion piece on Robert, his philosophy, and the motivations of the movement. Instead, I’ll give you a five-minute video that captures my day at Occupy Wall Street. There’s no agenda: this is simply the experience I was given.
I enjoyed my day with Robert. I learned a lot about the movement and met some interesting folks; the gentlemen from Ben and Jerry’s even made an afternoon cameo!
Zach Gorelick is the managing editor of the GW Patriot. He is a contributor to the College Fix.