URBAN PERSPECTIVE - The Occupy Wall Street movement has resonated with many Angelinos in South Los Angeles. The area has been hit with high unemployment, foreclosures, and inadequate resources since the onset of the economic downturn.
Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope is hosted an Occupy Wall Street protest at Bank of America located at 3945 Crenshaw Blvd on Thursday.
Mr. Ali expresses that this protest is a show of solidarity and dissatisfaction with the 1% who control the wealth and power in America. “African Americans and Latinos have suffered from the economic crisis caused by big banks. They have seen their wages diminish while large corporations and their heads have seen their pocket books increase. And, they are living lavishly off of us.”
The protest in front of Bank of America was very symbolic because it was inspiring people’s civic engagement on a local level. Ali states, “This is a historic movement. We want everyone part of it. By having it here in the Crenshaw area, we are basically telling people you can lead from where you are and make a contribution to the movement’s efforts. You can be in Inglewood, Watts, Compton, or Carson. Take charge of what’s happening by being a change agent.”
Like many of Ali’s protest, he wants the public to walk away with some tangible actions. These actions include asking protesters to withdraw their money from big banks like Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase and deposit their monies in credit unions, independent community banks, or minority-owned banks.
That’s not all. He is also pushing student loan debt forgiveness. His reasoning is that students have encumbered debt to pursue their educational goals and can’t secure a living wage to pay it off or support themselves.
Success of the South LA’s protests will not be in the number of people who show up than it is in the principles of the Occupy Wall Street philosophy. As Ali puts it, “You can’t arrest a dream or stop a natural movement that is calling for fair and equal justice.”
(Janet Denise Ganaway-Kelly offers more than a decade of accomplishments in the housing and nonprofit sector. Janet brings valuable insight in the areas of community and economic development. Additionally, she brings knowledge regarding the leadership and management challenges faced by large and small nonprofits that are struggling or growing organizations. She blogs at jdkellyenterprises.org ) –cw
Tags: Occupy Wall Street, Najee Ali, Project Islamic Hope, protests, Bank of America
Vol 9 Issue 82
Pub: Oct 14, 2011