Political, economic complaints spark Central Square teach-in
It was a bit of the Sixties all over again. Last week saw not just Occupy Harvard setting up tents in Harvard Yard and tweens and teens holding rallies and gathering signatures to save a school program, but an actual teach-in Wednesday in Central Square — tellingly, right outside the square’s Bank of America branch.
“It was pretty cool, I have to say,” said Avi Green, a Banks Street resident who is co-director of the nonpartisan, nonprofit MassVOTE organization.
The two-hour gathering drew from 30 to 50 people, including passing bicyclists, to talk “about why they felt the 99 percent of us are getting a raw deal in terms of the disparity of economic and political power,” Green said. Bank of America drew ire in early October by announcing a $5 fee for customers to use debit cards, helping inspire thousands to switch to smaller banks and credit unions in protest before backing off from the idea Nov. 1. The proposed fee added fuel to the fire of the international Occupy movement as well as angering people already upset by the January 2010 decision by the Supreme Court saying the government can’t ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
“I personally feel that, given the Citizens United decision that corporations are people, we just have a political system that privileges corporations,” Green said.
The teach-in was one of a nationwide series of events planned by Moveon.org, which urged people to spread the “simple message: Wall Street mega-banks and the 1 percent have wrecked the economy, and they own too many politicians in Washington, D.C. Enough is enough.” Another organization backing the event was the volunteer group Cambridge-Somerville for Change.
It’s not the Sixties again, Green said, but “it really is a crisis.”
The groups hope to hold a similar, nationwide set of events Thursday, but it’s not decided what sort of events they’ll be, he said, after describing what happened at the Wednesday event.
“One thing people talked about is that we really are going to need a movement to make it better, and that’s going to mean taking some time to achieve it,” he said. “People need to step up.”