The negative stereotypes about the Occupy Edmonton camp are predictably dismissive and incorrect, usually spouted by people who didn’t bother visiting. After visiting the camp for myself, it’s clear that the identification of the protesters as unemployed, violent, radical hippies that contribute very little to society is dead wrong.
The best way of summing up what they’re about and who’s involved in this two-and-a-half week effort was given by a protestor who chose to quote Confucius to me — “hear and forget, see and remember, do and understand.”
The amount of negative feedback towards the protest enticed me to visit for myself and find out who makes up this amorphous group. Although there are some homeless Edmontonians residing in the tiny park on Jasper Ave., I met several occupants who held rather diverse jobs, from an accountant to registered nurses volunteering at the medical tent, to a legal assistant and even an ordained minister.
Through conversation with these people, it became clear to me that the notion that the majority of this population of diverse occupants are jobless vagrants is plain wrong. Many occupants contribute a great amount to society, and should be commended.
The idea that the Occupy movement is one of violence is simply wrong. In my three visits to the Edmonton camp, I’ve seen only one violent act: and it wasn’t the protesters. A man walking down the street was apparently so inconvenienced by the group of citizens handing out leaflets that he felt it necessary to vocally and physically express his feelings.
He threw his fists at any protester near him, screaming about how the group was entirely jobless, and that they were what was wrong with society as a whole.
He continued to talk about how he takes good care of his family, and how those looking back at him should aspire to follow suit. The peaceful way the protestors dissipated the situation is highly uncharacteristic of their rumoured violent and radical behaviour, and the incident itself certainly displays a deep irony on the side of some detractors.
It’s true that some members of the movement have taken questionable actions, like the appearance by some at the downtown arena hearing at city council last week in which they marched in and chanted. But the actions of individuals in this diverse collection of protesters don’t speak for the beliefs of the majority.
Members of the camp assert that it’s imperative that the group is judged by the actions of the movement as a whole, and not of individuals within it.
When reacting to negative stereotypes in any situation — not merely with the Occupy Edmonton movement — it’s important to make your own observations. And when it does come to Occupy Edmonton, most of them welcome anybody to come down to see and understand for themselves.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.