On the 82nd anniversary of the stock market crash that touched off the Great Depression, more than 60 activists from Occupy New Hampshire marched through downtown Manchester, stopping off at the millworker monument and the state headquarters of Bank of America before returning to Veterans Park. The presence of the Portsmouth-based Leftist Marching Band helped add spirit to an already spirited afternoon.
The day’s organized events began with short speeches in Veterans Park by Will Thomas and Will Hopkins, both active members of Veterans for Peace. Will Thomas, a retired social studies teacher, quoted former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ statement that “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” He also recalled Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the Poor Peoples Campaign, and King’s call for a “revolution of values” to overturn a system rooted in racism, militarism, and economic injustice.
Will Hopkins, Executive Director of NH Peace Action, seconded the other Will’s comments and added that the Occupy movement is protesting “government in the interest of those who control wealth and power.” He also led the assembly in a moment of silence in solidarity with Scott Olsen, who remains in the ICU in Oakland after suffering a skull fracture caused by a police fired projectile.
At the millworker statue on Commercial Street, marchers paused for remarks by
Katie Talbert, who described efforts led by Laconia native Sara Bagley to organize the “mill girls” who worked the looms of Manchester, Lowell, and other New England cities in the mid-19th century. By organizing strikes, which they called “turn-outs,” and petitioning legislators in Concord and Boston, the mill girls pressed for passage of legislation to limit the work day to ten hours. “Our labor is what empowers the 1%,” Katie said.
Marches paused for denunciations of the Bank of America outside the company’s office at the corner of Elm and Bridge Streets, and returned to Veterans Park for short committee meetings and a short General Assembly. There are now active committees discussing education, outreach, and other matters. The education committee is planning a workshop on the causes of the economic meltdown for next Saturday’s gathering. In the meantime, Occupy New Hampshire will take tomorrow off and resume daily General Assemblies Monday evening. Watch the web site for updates, and log on to share ideas and join discussions.