The people of the Occupy movement are a diverse group. Each has a unique story of what brought them to Occupy. Some of them at Freedom Plaza in Washington spoke about how this Christmas is different for them from years past.
Christmas at Occupy is a time of reflection for many. In a few short months the Occupy movement has managed to change the political tone in the country. It has also transformed the lives of many involved.
Stephen Dougherty is from Asheville, North Carolina. He lost his construction job when the economy collapsed. In his 50s, he had to learn a new trade. Now he is barely scraping by as a nurse’s assistant. So, he joined Occupy.
“I have not been this excited in a very long time. You know I have just been refueled, passionate again, feeling a little younger. But the thing is I do not feel depressed this year because I can call my parents and my daughters and I can tell them what I am doing and they are excited,” Dougherty said.
Christmas is known as a time of giving.
Gerry, a former executive chef, says he is doing his part to change the country.
He used to cook meals for big corporate food chains. Now he gives his services to the Occupiers at Freedom Plaza. He says he has had plenty of job offers lately, but is tired of working for people who do not care about him. He would rather spend Christmas here at Occupy supporting the cause and the people he loves.
“That is the whole key. Giving it to someone you know really needs it and really appreciates it. And to me that is what Christmas is about,” Gerry said.
This year, Christmas is very special to Michael Brewern. After 23 years in prison, this is his first holiday season as a free man. He says Occupy has helped restore his sense of purpose and direction in life, and he has a lot to be thankful for.
“I think we need to stand up and tell the government, 'No, not today. But we still need a government because if we didn't have a government you would imagine what this town would look like,” Brewern said.
Mira Dabit, a Catholic Palestinian from Jerusalem likes the diversity of the movement. She says Occupy encompasses the true meaning of Christmas.
“We come from different places, we come from different backgrounds and we all came together with one joint cause and just create a positive change for this world and this country. So I think it is going to be a great Christmas,” Dabit said.
Most plan to stay here at camp through the holidays. There is a church service complete with choir planned for Christmas day.