There have been some problems for the stalwart settlers camped on New Haven’s Upper Green.
Take last weekend’s snow storm. Several tents collapsed and had to be re-pitched. Before that, there were looters.
"The first couple nights, we got looted. All of our supplies -- donations of blankets and food -- were taken," Sean Conlon calmly recalled while standing outside a large tent now serving as a security-detail base. Conlon takes the incident in stride, surmising the invaders were probably homeless people who needed the items.
Conlon and his tent-dwelling neighbors say they can handle difficulties such as intruders and inclement weather. What they find unacceptable is the country’s economic and social climate. That’s why they’ve occupied the New Haven Green, .
American Dream Slips Away
"I’m here just to basically make a statement," said Conlon, a 35-year-old musician who saw the American Dream within his reach two years ago. Then his wife lost her job.
"She came back from maternity leave and they laid her off," said Conlon, adding that the family had to sell their newly unaffordable New Haven home and relocate to Derby.
Conlon gets gigs when he can -- he’s part of an Irish folk duo among other groups -- but he also holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Southern Connecticut State University. He can’t find a job in that field, which means he doesn’t have the money to repay student loans.
Many people are in the same position, Conlon said. He blames politicians and big business.
"All of the problems we have stem from the fact that there’s too much corporate money in politics. Politicians don’t owe their loyalty to their constituents anymore," said Conlon, citing seemingly endless cycles of political fundraising and laws he says favor the rich. "It’s frustrating. The laws keep the extremely wealthy people extremely wealthy."
New Haven resident Sam June sees fellow occupiers as kindred spirits. "A lot of other people have the same feeling I do," he said. The American Dream has turned into a broken promise for him, too.
"When I was a kid I was taught to go to school, get good grades and go to college, and there’ll be a good job waiting for you," June said.
But he’s experienced being laid off. He doesn’t like it. "I’ve been through three different job training programs. Now I work at a cancer screening lab where I make less money than people working at McDonald’s."
No Plan to Leave
"The cause," for Charles Tullis, is "stopping Wall Street from doing all its evil deeds." That’s why he’s lending his support on the New Haven Green.
"I think that this is the best event in history to help teach the evil bureaucracy to join the human race to country and the world so it can really work," said Tullis. "We need to get back to proper interaction and respect for each other."
Neither Tullis, June nor Conlon gave a deadline or a concrete goal that would signal the end of their occupation.
"I don’t plan to leave," said Conlon.
What do you think of the opinions of the occupiers? Tell us in the comments.