Occupy Wall Street activists rallied in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park on Tuesday to mark two years since their movement began there. Among them: One small group of singing, cane-wielding women who dub themselves the Raging Grannies.
The group's members, mostly over 65 and retired, may not be as visible as the debt-saddled college graduates and unemployed people at the movement's forefront. But on Tuesday, they were among the most vocal.
“Good news! Occupy Wall Street’s a-coming! And you don’t want to leave us behind,” they sang.
While other groups marched and banged drums, lambasting stop-and-frisk and calling for higher wages for fast-food workers, the Raging Grannies sang parodies about social and economic inequalities.
Founded in British Columbia in 1987, the Raging Grannies is a loose-knit group of mostly senior women that promotes equality, according to its website. Members of its chapters, or "gaggles," range in age from 49 to 98.
“We really need to turn a lot of things around, especially the wealth gap in the city,” said Raging Grannies member and retired nurse practitioner Alice Sturmsutter.
The group admits that the Occupy movement has struggled to find a direction since police cleared the encampment in Zuccotti Park in 2011. On Tuesday, only a few hundred protestors were in attendance at the park, once packed with thousands at the height of the movement.
“They had set up some wonderful things in Zuccotti Park, and that was all destroyed," said Raging Grannies member Corinne Willinger. The raid, she said, "changed the whole complexion" of the movement.
Willinger's group hopes to change that. Despite the movement's splintering, the Raging Grannies have praised Occupy for its community engagement and grassroots efforts, particularly for its disaster relief campaigns after Sandy.
“Occupy has been very welcoming,” said Sturmsutter, who worked a health tent during the occupation of Zuccotti Park in 2011. “It’s a sense of community, and it’s a sense of creating a better world and bringing about justice.”
And for the Raging Grannies, there’s more to the movement than commemorating its beginnings.
“I hope for some action in between, too,” Sturmsutter said. “I hope it won’t just be anniversaries.”