Fewer than a dozen people occupied Watertown today, holding signs that decried corporate influence on America's political institutions.
Though the numbers were nothing like we've seen in Zuccotti Park, the protestors said that braving the cold temperatures was worth their time.
It's just about starting the conversation, one of the protestors, named Eric, told me as a few cars went by and beeped.
Much like the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, this protest was hard to define, but most everyone agreed that corporations wield too much influence in elections and on the government. That's despite a few non sequitors, like one sign that said "Stop animal abuse."
The core group of protestors were from the New York City area. They have been staying at a farm in Redwood for the past few months, and decided to Occupy Watertown. There wasn't much of a groundswell of support from the locals, though. That doesn't exactly surprise me. In Potsdam, I'm told, as many as 50 people were protesting at the same time as the Watertown protestors barely cracked double digits. Therein lies the difference between a college town and a military town.
The Watertown occupiers set up an "alChemical Bank," which is explained in greater detail here. Basically, you "deposit" some sort of bad feelings, it gets exchanged with some sort of solution, and then in the end, you get a certificate so you'll feel better. My complaint was, "It is cold." My solution was, "A plane ticket to Aruba (corporate jet plz)." Despite my snarkiness, I was offered a certificate "to acknowledge the reality of the following vision: You are in paradise. Now!"
Indeed, the protestors themselves were a friendly bunch. One of them told me, as I said I had to head back to the relative paradise of my warm cubicle, "Far out, man." Aside from terminology, they exhibited symptoms that have plagued protest movements for generations — the Students for a Democratic Society, for example. Their mantra was basically, Hey, no one is in charge here.
I asked some of them how long this protest movement could go on for. In perpetuity, they told me. Somehow I doubt that. But isn't it pretty to think so?
Anyway, here are a few other tidbits from the protest:
Jefferson County Democratic Party chief Sean Hennessey was there. He brought markers, and then pizza.
Mayor Jeff Graham also showed up. He took a photo with his iPhone that I was in the background of. It may end up on his blog. Be warned.
Mike Flynn, or Middle Class Mike, as he is known, was also there. He's constantly at loggerheads with Mr. Graham. It's Watertown's blog war. Mr. Flynn was asked to take a photo of Mr. Graham, a sort of grip-and-grin with the protestors. He declined, saying he didn't trust himself.
It looked like the mayor got a few good photos, which I'm sure are soon to appear. I got a photo of him taking a photo. So meta.
I asked Mr. Graham what he was doing out there. "I'm campaigning today," he jokingly told me. "You're mayor for all the people," he said, recovering.
Plus, he said, "I'm a political tourist."
I should have known, from all the snapshots.