Despair and Hope in Occupied Rust Belt Cities

As part of an "Occupy America" tour, Arun Gupta visits Occupy protests in three rust belt cities, and finds that the economic forces that unleashed the global recession long ago stripped these cities of their economic and social fabric.
October 25, 2011, 7am PDT | Michael Dudley
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Gupta journeys to Allentown P.A., Youngstown and Toledo, Ohio to meet the protesters at their struggling Occupations:

"Occupy Allentown has taken up residence in Center Square, inhabiting one of the four red-brick plazas on each corner. At the downtown crossroads, Occupy Youngstown has taken up position in the shadow of three different banks, including a Chase branch. In Toledo, Ohio, occupiers are struggling with trying to live outdoors in a harsh climate because the city is making life difficult for them.

Awareness of the occupation movement coexists with despair...After decades of economic decline, Americans in this part of the country are beaten down. Their prospects are limited. Civic embarrassment is more prevalent than pride. They lament the end of the 'American Dream,' the notion that hard work and sacrifice would be rewarded with a comfortable retirement and a better life for their children and grandkids. But in the hundreds of occupations around the country they have found a space where they can speak of their struggles, burdens and aspiration. People listen and they hear similar stories, creating a genuine sense of community. They say it is giving them dignity. And perhaps most important, it is giving them hope."

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Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 in Salon.com
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