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Joan Wile

Joan Wile is the Founder of Grandmothers Against the War and the author of "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)

October 4th, 2011 5:18 PM

The Truth About Congressman Rangel's Visit to 'Occupy Wall Street'

There are so many people at Zucotti Park, the locale for the New York City Occupy Wall Streeters, that it's hard for the many media journalists there to keep track of what's happening.
 
It was particularly difficult on Saturday, Oct. 1, when thousands descended on the little space to gather for the march which wound up disastrously on Brooklyn Bridge.  On that day, Congressman Charlie Rangel came down to lend his support shortly before the walk began.  He was the highest-level elected representative to make an appearance at Occupy Wall Street thus far, a fact that others of his ilk might contemplate.  It can't have been easy to make the decision to join the demonstration, as it is to be expected that given the nature of the protest, there are bound to be those who are angry with government officials.
 
I met him as he entered the park and walked with him while a horde of media persons and protesters descended on him.  He began to speak to the crowd, encouraging them to "take back your country" and generally supporting their grievances and hopes.  In the middle of his impassioned talk, a man started screaming at him -- I couldn't decipher his remarks, but they were obviously hostile.  Immediately, the crowd started booing and yelled, "We're sorry.  This is a peaceful gathering."  It was very obvious they were apologizing to the Congressman.  I am being very explicit about this because a few of the media reports I've read have implied that the "boos" were aimed at Mr. Rangel, and I want to make absolutely certain the true facts are recorded correctly.
 
Mr. Rangel has long been an advocate for economic justice and does not deserve any misinterpretation of his intentions or his sincere feelings concerning his courageous visit on Saturday.
 
If only there were more sitting in the hallowed halls of Congress like him!  Sen. Schumer, won't you pay a visit to Zucotti Park?  Congressman Nadler?  Congresswoman Maloney?

UPDATE: Since writing this piece, I've learned, to my shame, that I am guilty of the same thing I accused journalists of in the above item.  I implied that Congressman Nadler had not gone to Occupy Wall Street, but have since learned that he did, indeed attend.  He joined a march of the Postal Workers in conjunction with the protests.  My sincere apologies to the Congressman.

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