The Occupy Movement: A Report from Occupy Seattle, Part 2

War veterans – both served in Iraq / Afghanistan

What does Occupy Wall Street want?  Last week GOP Presidential candidate, Herman Cain stated, “nobody knows what their cause is. How are you going to assist them with a cause when you don’t know what the cause is?”

Well, I’m not sure about the representativeness of the signs carried at camp-outs and marches during Occupy Seattle.  And to what extent can placards speak for a movement?  In any case, here is my report on well over 100 signs that I transcribed for the record.  Hopefully the reader will at least get an idea of what is on Occupiers’ minds.

At Occupy Seattle this last weekend, a number of signs reflected indignation and outrage at the violence by police against Occupy Oakland, including serious injuries inflicted on a decorated veteran of the Iraq War, Scott Olson.

A host of snide remarks about OWS suggest that the participants are ignoramuses.  But many of the signs I saw did reflect intellectual qualities – including six with quotes from respectively, Albert Einstein, Kurt Vonnegut, Horace Mann, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Gladstone, and Virginia Wolfe.  An elderly man handed out a statement by Nobel economist, Joseph Stiglitz, including the observation, “You have a right to be indignant.”

Many people are incensed by a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 (Citizens United), to the effect that for political purposes corporations have the same rights as citizens.  This produced quite a number of placards, including these:

  • Corporate Personhood
  • Repeal Citizens United
  • Dump Obama: Restore Glass Steagall
  • The Constitution was written for People, not corporations
  • If corporations are people, why aren’t they in jail?
  • People are people too.
  • I will believe corporations are people when they give a sh-t.
  • Corporations are not people; and money is not speech.
  • A person has a conscience; a corporation has a bottom line.
  • Separation of Corporation & State

I have grouped the remainder of the signs I observed into three categories political, economic and cultural.  Judge for yourself what they say about OWS protestors:


  • None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free — Goethe
  • You started this expect us till its finished.
  • It can be done — Kurt Vonnigut.
  • You are the 99% — Wake up.
  • United the Many, 99%, — defeat the few, 1%
  • Organizations are not we the people.
  • We R the 99%
  • We are the 99%.  We can do it all without them
  • Bail out the People
  • Feedom or Freedom?
  • A thousand points of light have burned out


  • The Military-Industrial complex = Public Enemy #1.
  • Cost of War $30 million/hour
  • Support the soldiers & Veterans, cut the wars, not benefits
  • 5 US soldiers’ suicides at one base in one month
  • I did not spend 8 years in the army to defend the 1%
  • Republicans, the Party’s Over
  • Obama is Bought.
  • Submit or Starve
  • Smash the control machine
  • Close Prisons not Post Offices
  • End the Fed


  • The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything — Albert Einstein
  • The Revolution is Here [carried by lady in Rev. War era costume]
  • Global Revolution — hello 2012
  • Iya Basta (Enough already)
  • If you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.
  • Have you noticed the global uprising?
  • Direct Action Gets the Goods


  • Where is Thomas Paine when you need him?
  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
  • This is what democracy looks like. [Frequent chants and signs using this slogan]
  • Democracy Back by Popular Demand
  • Give me democracy, or give me death
  • Democracy is in Danger.


  • I’m recovering from battered voter syndrome [shows man between head-butting donkey & elephant]
  • Take back democracy
  • Democracy Needs You [from Occupy Albany, NY]
  • One term limit or campaign finance
  • The real terrorists are at the top
  • Take $ out of politics
  • We are not pawns.
  • Replace Plutocracy with Democracy
  • Get big money out of law-making.
  • Rise above the system
  • Restore the balance of power; give the people a voice
  • Plutocracy Sucks
  • I don’t need a handout, just freedom
  • In a true democracy, money is voiceless
  • My one demand, true democracy
  • I’m here because I can’t afford a politician.
  • I brought tea bags, now will you take us seriously?


  • Occupy Seattle not Afghanistan [printed signs on sale for $10]
  • The Constitution is our permit
  • Stop the War on Dissent
  • Shame, there’s no honor in macing a child
  • Activism is not a crime
  • Occupy Seattle: No sleep Until Justice


  • What Would John Maynard Keynes Do?
  • Mr. Obama, tear down that Wall Street
  • Wall Street, we will defeat
  • Rape Street
  • Tax Wall Street; heal America.
  • For Sale America.


  • A shrinking middle class a shrinking America
  • Its not a free market its a fixed market.
  • Bank of Screw America [posted on Bank.of America building]
  • Bank of Whose America?
  • People substituted for Bank, in Bank of America door sign.
  • Hungry?  Eat a Banker
  • State Banks now.


  • Cutting Education is Class Warfare
  • Bail out Schools not the Banks
  • Skills over Debt and Bills
  • Student loans = indentured servitude


  • Don’t Chase us out of our homes
  • Bail out homeowners
  • Abolish Austerity: Make the Bosses Pay for their Crisis
  • Stop attacking the middle class
  • Unions make us strong
  • United We Bargain Divided we Beg.


  • People Before Profit: End corporate Greed
    When the Poor are Less Poor, Everyone Gets Richer.
  • Privatization is Profitization
  • Promote the General Welfare (on side of tent); End corporate tyranny (other side of tent)
  • Cut corporate Welfare.
  • Corporate greed is wrecking the American Dream
  • Our money our planet our future


  • We want jobs — tired of eating cake.
  • No jobs hurts more than no agenda.  Speak up.
  • To the woman who yelled to us out her car window, get a job. I’ve had two jobs for five years and no benefits
  • Living Wage jobs; moratorium on foreclosures; stop the endless wars; tax the rich corporations; indict the thieves on Wall St. and Financial Industry
  • America wants to work good jobs now
  • WA teachers stand with OWS
  • We got sold out
  • Kick some ass for the working class
  • Cops are a tool of the Rich Man’s rule
  • One tent for every foreclosed home
  • The Cops Took my Tent [on tarp]
  • Legalize homelessness


  • We are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. [Many signs using this slogan]
  • When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace — .Gladstone
  • Down with Apathy
  • A different world cannot be built by indifferent people — Horace Mann
  • I am my brother’s keeper
  • Life isnt a zero-sum gain.
  • Dont Sacrifice your Morals for Corporate Convenience
  • Destroy the American Caste system
  • Unf–k the world.  [carried by attractive middle aged woman]
  • Greedy f–kers, you should be ashamed.  (Carried by a pretty girl, college age)
  • Korporate Kapitalist Kulture — Dont buy it.
  • Corporations are not people
  • Make a living, not a killing.
  • One Nation Under Greed
  • Put greed to bed
  • Make Love not Loot

(© 2011 Bob Struble and Catholic Lane, may not be reproduced without permission.)

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Bob Struble is a retired history teacher, and a writer of books, articles and poems. He is Lecturer for the Knights of Columbus in Bremerton WA, and is an associate editor at Catholic Lane.