By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com October 06 2011 6:20 PM ET
The Occupy Wall Street protest gained more strength today as protesters across the nation — including hundreds, perhaps thousands of LGBTQ activists — marched in their own cities to show solidarity with the protest that began in New York City three weeks ago.
OccupyTogether, a website that sprung up as a hub for all the regional protests, lists 749 cities planning protests, rallies, or meet-ups this month, from places as diverse as Denver, Louisville, Chicago, Minneapolis, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Pocatello, Idaho or Birmingham, Ala. Organizers of the latter city’s protests say October 15 is expected to be the largest protest day yet: “Something big is going to happen on that date," reported a self-proclaimed member of Anonymous about what's in store for Occupy Birmingham.
Protests have been staged in far-ranging locales, as well, from Honolulu to Dublin, some with only four or five activists planning meet-ups to decide how to bring the spirit of Occupy Wall Street to their hometowns. Dozens of protests took place today alone. In New Orleans, reportedly very orderly queer protesters carried signs that read “NOLA Is the Other 99%” and in Cleveland, signs read “If I Had a Job, I Wouldn’t Be Here.” Protesters in Seattle battled rain, then police removed their tents and left them little shelter from fall torrents.
In Los Angeles today, about 500 protesters took over a popular intersection at Seventh and Figueroa streets (near banking centers), and police in riot gear were dispatched to make arrests (as of press time, only about 10 arrests had been made).
In Portland, Ore., at least 4,000 protesters marched downtown to Pioneer Square to begin what is expected to be a camp-in for several days at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Marchers chanted, “Who are we? We are the 99,” as the event streamed live to viewers. Portland’s gay mayor, Sam Adams, offered support for the protesters, telling reporters “I support Portlanders in their right to protest and exercise free speech rights, and I encourage all who participate to do so peacefully and with respect to the rights of others. Most of the people that are going to participate in Occupy Portland — as with most of the participants in cities across the country — are there to voice their legitimate concerns about national issues. A peaceful event is the most effective way for participants to deliver that message.”
No official reports have been released by police, but activists posting on Twitter are still debating whether police were supportive or “working for the 1%.”
Meanwhile, a Tumblr called "We Are the 99 Percent" (which alludes to the economic disparity of having 1% of the nation control the majority of its wealth) has sprung up featuring hundreds of personal stories from folks around the U.S. affected by the recession. Many talk about losing jobs and homes, lack of health care, environmental pollution, LGBT economic issues, and more. Handwritten stories are being posted online as the protests continue their national groundswell and attract folks eager to participate and also send in their stories and photos.
One of those notes, posted alongside this story, is from a trans man who says he will "probably never" be able to afford the expense of transitioning.