Though the temperature has dropped, the size of the crowd at the Occupy Pittsburgh camp beside BNY Mellon has not. The encampment at Mellon Green adjacent to BNY Mellon still includes about 200 people.
Many, like Jeff Chech are employed, in their mid-late 20s, and only come to the encampment in the evenings or on weekends. Others are students, and still others are homeless.
|UNITED WE STAND—Members of New York City’s Occupy The Hood movement Malik Rhasaan, Preach Daimond and “Rithm” George Martinez join Paradise Gray and Jasiri X at Mellon Green. (Photo by J.L. Martello)
“There’s a fair amount of young people. But we’ve got people in their 60s, too,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of homeless at the camp and they’ve been helpful, in the medical tent, in the kitchen, handing out food and supplies—one is organizing our donations. This last weekend, one homeless guy helped fix my leaking tent. If you look at 99 percent—it’s them. They are the ones in need.”
Chech also said, contrary to some talk he’s heard, there are a fair number of African-Americans at the camp.
“I mean, I’m not a spokesman for the group—there really isn’t one, but I don’t know where that comes from. We’re representative of the area,” he said. “Th—re are many African-Americans at the site, a whole array of ethnic groups. People of color even have their own working group.”
Even so, Pittsburgh activists Jasiri X and Paradise Gray say more than a “working group” is needed to address the issues of African-Americans in Pittsburgh. To that end, they have been organizing a complimentary effort for over a month to get Black youth involved in the Occupy movement—Occupy the Hood.
“Occupy the Hood is intended to let Blacks know this movement is for them too,” said Jasiri X. “I mean, look at unemployment, foreclosures—nobody has more experience with that than the Black community, and it’s been that way for 30 years. It’s not new, neither is police brutality. So this is to let people in our community know that they have a stake in this—especially young people.”
Occupy the Hood was started in New York City, and through their hip-hop work with One Hood, Jasiri X and Gray met the founders and made a video called “We the 99” at Occupy Wall Street last month.
On Oct. 31, New York Occupy the Hood founders Malik Rhasaan and Preach Daimond along with “Rithm” George Martinez returned the favor and joined Jasiri X and Gray at the Mellon Green encampment Downtown.
Daimond said he liked what he saw in Pittsburgh.
“I think it’s encouraging to see what’s going on with Occupy The Hood in Pittsburgh,” he said. “They understand the importance of bringing in the Black and Latino communities because we’ve lived the struggle for a long time. So when they see people like them, like us, they go, ‘oh, this is about me.’ And it’s working, bringing in not only more people, but also a wealth of knowledge.”
Both Daimond and Jasiri X said the two Occupy the Hood entities were working on upcoming joint initiatives that might also include movements in Chicago and other cities, but they are not yet ready to discuss them.
For its part, Occupy Pittsburgh was scheduled to hold an Election Day march through Oakland.
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