If Occupy Wall Street was a song, it's sounding like a global hit right now. The movement continues to proliferate, with factions popping up in over 70 cities, including Boston, Chicago, and London. Houston has also joined the fight against corporate politics.
On Tuesday, a small group of protesters gathered in front of City Hall. Among them, H-town megastar/professor Bun B. Representing Trill Nation in a white tee, khaki shorts and no bling, Bun posted up with the protesters to "support the city."
No, Bun wasn't there to wrap his tongue around rhymes or anything. "I'm just here for the people," Bun B told Rocks Off. "I'm here as a citizen. I'm here as a human. I think it's important for these people's voices to be heard. I just wanted to show my support to Occupy Houston." Bun added: "These people are soldiers at war. It's 99% of us against the 1% who control everything. There's strength in numbers."
Sure enough, Bun B stood by side with the group listening intently, as they spent a good half-hour hashing out ideas and discussing ways to avoid unnecessary bumps. Here, meetings (General Assembly, if you want to get technical) take on a democratic form. The moderator makes a proposal, members raise hands to signal support or dissent. Hands held out in a so-so manner means you're not feeling the proposal. Jazz hands means you're loving it. The meeting went on drama-free, aside from one cop who stopped by to make sure no one was setting up a terrorist ring in front of City Hall.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that protests invite a multitude of risks. Yesterday, 129 protesters were arrested in Boston for their evil messages of "fairness" and "peace." Luckily, no such thing happened at Occupy Houston yesterday.
The group was poised, passionate, and diverse. It included an erstwhile criminal defense attorney, a songwriter, an illustrator, a Fedex driver, and a three-year old boy who spent the entire afternoon exploring the space between a bench and the ground. Around noon-ish, the protesters took to the corner of Rusk, shouting slogans like "They got bailed out; We got sold out." Downtown drivers on their way to lunch honked in solidarity.
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A good chunk of the protesters we talked to echoed the same sentiment: corporate greed is polluting American politics. "These corporations and big companies shouldn't have more footprint in our political system than we do," offered the Fedex driver. "I understand that they're out there and need to have a say, but it should be fair. It should be equal."
What started as a tiny group of people airing their grievances about corporate greed last month from a park in New York City is rapidly spreading throughout the country. From Zuccotti Park to Hermann Square Park, Occupy Wall Street has everyone rapping about economic inequality. Recently, other hip-hop stars like Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and Kanye West have visited Occupy Wall Street to support the movement. Russell Simmons practically lives on Zuccotti Park. And Houston's own Bun B vows to do his part to keep spirits high.
"I'm not just going to tweet about or talk about it on Facebook," says Bun B. "I'm going to be about it. I'm out here to support my city." That's music to Houston's ears.
Visit OccupyHouston.org to learn more about the movement or how to send food.