While most of the hundreds of people occupying Wall Street are there to fight for economic justice, for some, Zuccotti Park, where protesters have been camped out since Sept. 17, is also a place to recruit others for their own individual agendas.
One of these groups, Food and Water Watch, is against “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, a method to mine for natural gas.
The Catskills Aqueduct supplies water to New York City. It lies on part of the Marcellus Shale Formation, which contains natural gas. If companies are allowed to frack this area of the Marcellus Shale, environmentalists say the chemicals used in the fracking process could contaminate the city’s water supply.
Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer for Food and Water Watch, visited Zuccotti Park two weeks ago with his family, and not as a part of the group. Last Wednesday, the organization set up a table and brought in volunteers and brochures. Weltman felt Occupy Wall Street was a good venue to meet like-minded people who would be willing to support the cause, due to the apparent anti-corporate sentiment.
“Our main purpose is to engage people as individuals to come over and sign our petition,” says Weltman.
Julio Rolon, who flew to New York from Puerto Rico to take part in Occupy Wall Street, signed the petition urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking in the state of New York.
“I also decided not only to sign the petition, but also promote their ideas. I know what fracking does, and what [Food and Water Watch is] is doing is good work,” Rolon said.
Sherman Jackson, a member of the Occupy Wall Street public relations working group, says he welcomes a group that’s against fracking.
“You know who’s advocating for [fracking], it’s the same companies that pollute the gulf, the same companies that polluted Texas,” he says.
Corinne Rosen, another organizer for Food and Water Watch, says that what she and the protesters are doing at Zuccotti Park is not just about marching around and shouting slogans.
“It’s also about organizing and building power,” she said. “We don’t just hand out a leaflet and walk away, we talk to them and there’s a human connection. That’s what changes minds.”