Night has drawn in over Downtown Denver, a city where the inspired and frequently rowdy Occupy Movement had once thrived and has long since settled. Factions of the Occupy protests exist in a more subtle fashion today, the dialogue concerning the income disparity between the American upper and lower class continuing inside of a few choice offices that have cropped up nationwide. These offices are still a work in progress. And one of these offices has popped up not far from the bank where not so long ago, an Occupy protest was alive and well.
The interior lights of the Denver headquarters spill onto an ice-slicked sidewalk, and people keep their upper bodies hunched and coat collars close to the back of their necks as they rush by. In and out of the light they go, visible to the people inside of the glass window and gone the next. One young man disregards the cold and instead warmly regards his can of beer, enclosed inside of a small paper bag. He cocks his head back and chugs at the same time he passes through the light, and instead of going inside he takes a seat just out of range of the window, up against the gray-stone exterior.
The man is black with a heavy beard and nappy hair. His name is Kenneth. He is dressed appropriately for the cold, despite being homeless. Only seconds after he has taken his seat another man takes a seat next to him. This man is a young, slightly chubby, Hispanic fellow by the name of Ramirez, and this man, never failing to take full advantage of the legalization of marijuana, pulls out a thick cigar full of reefer. He lights it quickly with gloved hands.
“They’re trying to make a move,” Ramirez tells Kenneth. “In this office.”
“But the question is what kind of move are they trying to make?”
“Well what they’re trying to do is give the people a voice, and when I say the people I mean, the people. The people that are struggling in this society and the people that feel like they’ve been done wrong.”
“Yeah, but the shit isn’t going to work. They should be doing nothing. They’d get the same thing and use less energy. They’re not lawyers.”
“But they probably have the resources to get people in contact with lawyers. See, if I was heading this thing that’s what I’d do.” Kenneth takes a heavy chug of his beer and wipes the foam off his mouth with the back of his hand. “If you’re going to have a headquarters to represent the lower class in each city, you hire lawyers to protect the interests of the people who have issues with health care, a job, the police department, school, housing, heating, food, discrimination or whatever, the list goes on endlessly.
“A lot of the issues I just named are common issues within the poorer communities Ramirez. People can’t get a job because they didn’t go to school, parents could barely take care of their kids because they need to work multiple jobs just to get enough money for food and rent and heating, all the while they’re dealing with the weight of these bills while gas prices are spiking and food right along with them.”
Ramirez takes a heavy drag of his blunt, and breathes out smoke made whiter by the cold December air.
“Yeah,” he replies, looking thoughtfully toward the dark clouds. He fixes his dark eyes on Kenneth. “But it’s a fantasy that they’d even have the resources to hire the lawyers to protect against shit like that. That takes fundraising, contributions, a movement, and a presence, keyword presence. It isn’t so present right now. And as far as the capitalist system and jobs and getting money, well that’s handled legislatively. If simply hiring lawyers could solve the problems of the sick, the poor, and the uneducated, the movement would’ve never existed.”
Kenneth takes another mighty chug of his beer, and let out a wet burp. “The bottom up brother,” he says. “The bottom up. Like you said, this behind us, this is for a voice. Let some people come together and hone the message and make it razor sharp, develop a website, get the news of an upcoming protest out around election season circa summer 2014, and boom, you make a move by nominating different candidates.”
“But like I said, that goes back to doing things legislatively. And people want to act like things will move, but it seems like for the longest the time there have always been poor people and these same kinds of issues.”
“The disparity between rich and poor is bigger though.”
“Not going to change, even with a new president. Not for a billion years.”
“Pessimism breeds pessimism, particularly when spoken into an unknowing ear.”
“You are a knowing ear, and I’m just giving you the facts of how things are. A year ago I told you they were doing a whole lot of nothing for nothing and look, we’re sitting outside of an office in the freezing cold.”
Kenneth says nothing, and Ramirez watches him closely, the tip of his blunt still aflame.
“And still working at day labor,” Ramirez goes on.
Kenneth simply nods.
“And still stinking.”
“All right, all right.”
“It’s the end of the world unless we get rid of the roadblocks, you know, certain congressmen, folks in the media and such. And fuck it, the Democratic process.”
“You sound crazy.”
Ramirez takes one more hit of his blunt, let his cheeks puff out as he held the smoke in, then leaned forward and put it out on the sidewalk. He stands up and wipes off the back of his jacket and pants.
Kenneth finishes his beer, tosses it, and stands up after him.
“You’d be surprised what a good intentioned crazy person can do,” Ramirez tells him, with a smile.
The friends stroll from the headquarters and into the night.