Music, voting and marching on Occupy agenda
NEW YORK (AP) — Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York City went old school on Tuesday as activist musicians David Crosby and Graham Nash delivered a touch of Woodstock, plans for a march to Washington were unveiled and some participants practiced another kind of democracy — voting.
Demonstrators have been making their voices heard in the nation's town squares for some time now, and the spirit of protest has remained paramount. At Zuccotti Park, Crosby and Nash, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were the latest entertainers to lend their talents to the cause.
The white-haired duo led a chant of "No More War!" and played a 20-minute acoustic performance for about 1,000 protesters and onlookers who stood elbow-to-elbow and spilled out of the lower Manhattan park onto nearby streets.
There was an air of nostalgia — and the smell of marijuana — wafting over the crowd as the pair had fans humming along to hits like "Teach Your Children Well," from the 1971 'Deja Vu' album, and "Long Time Gone," from their first album.
Teenager Tyler Westcott wasn't around when Crosby and Nash made it big, but knew well the impact they made.
"These relics of Woodstock came and supported our movement," said the 19-year-old college student from Hunt, N.Y., his voice rising with excitement. "It's wild, how things line up.
"What you have here is the New Left from the Vietnam era — and the new left here now."
Last month, folk music legend Pete Seeger and '60s folk singer Arlo Guthrie joined Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in their campaign against corporate greed. Recently, rappers Talib Kweli, Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco visited protesters in the park. In California, hip hop heavyweights MC Hammer, Raymond "Boots" Riley of hip hop group The Coup, and local rapper Mistah FAB have stopped by encampments.
Taking the Occupy protest on the road to the country's elected officials was also on the agenda Tuesday.
A small group of Occupy Wall Street activists will start a march Wednesday with the hope of arriving in Washington on Nov. 23, the deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Barack Obama's extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.
Kelley Brannon is organizing the 240-mile march through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland with a core group of a dozen activists. They hope to pick up other marchers along the way — even if for a day, or only an hour.
"Occupy the Highway" — as it's been dubbed — will start from the Manhattan park and continue with a ferry ride across the Hudson River to Elizabeth, N.J.
Brannon likened the effort to the long-distance marches led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., during the civil rights era.
"I mean, I'm not comparing us to Martin Luther King," said Brannon, of Queens, referring to three marches King led in 1965 from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery. Those marches ranged in size from 600 to 8,000 people.
"That's the premise Occupy is taking to the road: the historic relevance of such long-distance marches for social causes," Brannon said.
But a day before beginning the march begins, some protesters recognized Tuesday as election day in the U.S, and cast their vote in some of the many local races and higher profile races being decided in several states.
Tom Hagan, a 61-year-old salesman from Queens and a Vietnam War veteran, flashed a big smile as he stood in the Zuccotti Park with a sign that read: "Election Day Sale. Buy One Politician. Get One Free."
Hagan, a registered Democrat, said he votes in every election, including Tuesday's. He also said he had come to the Occupy protest "because our democracy is for sale; we don't have a representative democracy anymore."
Shawn Cronick voted in Philadelphia's mayoral race before heading to the Occupy Philadelphia encampment.
"It's easy to be cynical and wonder if it can change a political climate dominated by money," he said. "That's not an excuse to check out of the process; it just means we have to do more than vote. We have to stand up for ourselves and against corporate interests."
Not all demonstrators felt their votes would mean anything. In Louisville, Pamela Newman stayed away from the voting booth, even as her daughter and fellow Occupy Louisville demonstrator, Pam Newman, voted.
The younger Newman said voting is a way to live the values they are trying to stand up for.
"We want to make serious changes," Pam Newman said. "We want people to be engaged. It's a good example for us to be involved."
Her mother, though, was skeptical.
"I didn't see anything to vote for," Pamela Newman said. "There's no candidate who said anything I wanted to vote for."
Associated Press writers Brett Barrouquere in Louisville, Ky., and JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia contributed to this report.