Hello everyone, and welcome to my 99th post.
As I'm sure most of you are aware, Occupy Oakland marched to occupy a building yesterday, and were met with brutal force from police. I watched live as stream after stream cropped up from Occupiers, with many being arrested and handing off their equipment to someone nearby, before it could be confiscated by police. Over 300 people were arrested last night. Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and bean bag guns were all used to subdue protesters. Police say that protesters were throwing rocks, bottles, and flaming debris at them. At one point, hundreds of police had surrounded about 200 Occupiers in what they called a "kettle," near the YMCA building. While people stuck inside chanted "Let us disperse," and "This is a hostage situation," police arrested them one by one, and led them onto buses to be taken away. The Ustream channel journalist Spencer from OakFoSho was invited into an apartment, where he filmed the event from above, and protesters yelled their names to him for the National Lawyer's Guild. Police could be heard discussing the protesters who were handcuffed and sitting on the ground as "bodies to be processed," leading to the anger of many who heard them.
Meanwhile, protesters who hadn't been corralled into the "kettle" had made their way to City Hall, where a small group of protesters broke into the building. This "fringe group," as the Mayor described it, dragged an American flag outside the building where they proceeded to burn it. Police say that while inside, demonstrators destroyed an electrical box and some artwork, including a recycled exhibit made by children. By the time police made it to City Hall, most of the protesters had fled. Police blocked off the building, arresting those that came too near. Several known journalists were arrested in the scuffles of both locations. It is not known how many injuries were sustained by Occupiers or police, but several ambulances were seen carrying protesters away. At one point during the stream, it was mentioned that the police had intentionally broken a man's leg, but this is still unconfirmed. I'm sure much more news is to come on this, as well as out of Oakland in general.
As Occupy DC considers leaving their encampment due to new enforcement of rules, they certainly aren't allowing any disappointments to affect their protesting. Occupiers lined up at the 99th Alfalfa Club dinner, a formal event involving many dignitaries, including President Obama. As each person was assisted in passing the Occupiers by police, the protesters tossed chants, jeers, and plenty of glitter. Occupiers were still there when the dignitaries left, allowing them to go with more chants and jeers.
The Occupy Movement is one especially near and dear to me, and since this is my 99th post, I will tell you why I call myself one of the 99%.
My name is Kitty, and I'm 25 years old. I have a little brother who is 23, and he probably won't be around much longer. See, my brother has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable muscle-wasting disease. He hasn't walked since he was 12. When we were growing up, my little brother needed 24 hour care, meaning that my mom couldn't work. She did try on occasion, but it never worked out. Something would go wrong, and she would have to quit her job to take care of him again. I grew up on welfare, partially as a result of that, and partially because my father refused to pay child support. When I turned 18, I graduated from high school, started at the local community college, and got a job. Then I got another job. Paying to take care of yourself and your family is hard, and I also partially supported the man I was dating at the time. Now, I have been very sickly my whole life. I missed, on average, 46 days of school a year, and we didn't know why. I was just always sick. In 2007, right around Christmastime, I was working a great job at a state-run facility for people with disabilities. My fiance (who had been my boyfriend,) quit his job and left me to pay the car payment, insurance, his mortgage, and all other expenses for the home. I did this, because I felt I had to. Then, at Christmas, I got sick. Really sick. I had no idea what was wrong with me, and had to go to the hospital twice. My second time at the hospital, they gave me terrifying news. "Your kidneys are failing," they said, "and we don't know why." It turned out that I am allergic to NSAIDs, aka Advil, Aleve, etc. I had been given two shots of an NSAID pain reliever for a kidney infection on my first visit. They were sure I would need a transplant or that I would die. My kidneys were functioning at 7%. Amazingly, I began to get well on my own in about two weeks, but I will never forget that type of pain. Fast forward to 3 weeks later, and I'm out of the hospital, but still recovering. My job lets me try to continue, but it is obvious that they wanted to let me go, and as soon as they could, they did. The health insurance I had as a newer employee didn't cover my expenses. I was jobless, with $4000 in bills due every month, and $250,000 in medical debt. Trying to save myself, I whipped out the credit cards. "Only until I get a job, then I'll pay them off." I couldn't find a job. Not for over a year. I lost my truck, his house, and racked up a massive amount of debt. I'm still in it. I wasn't irresponsible. I lived within my means.
It is not right or fair that one major unexpected illness can flip your life upside down forever. I am in college now, with a ton of help from the government. I'm racking up even more debt with my student loans, but I hope that these loans will help me eventually pay off my other debts.
I'm scared. I'm poor. I'm sick.
And I am the 99%.
That's all for today. There are a few smaller stories available, but most of them are reports on stories I have previously mentioned. If you have any big news, drop me a line a firstname.lastname@example.org.