Many of today’s “Occupy Wall Street” protesters wear the mask made famous in the movie “V for Vendetta”, a 2006 film based on the V for Vendetta comic book set in London in a near-future society. The mask is symbolic of the English conspiracy known as the “Gunpowder Plot” and included 13 members whose aim was to murder James 1, the Prince of Wales and the members of British Parliament. One of the main conspirators of the plot was Guy Fawkes and the mask is in his likeness!
These conspirators, call them patriots or terrorists, fought and protested for religious freedom, the same religious freedom which founded the United States of America.
The “Gunpowder Plot” conspirators were set to use violence to help their cause by blowing-up the British Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder and kill the buildings occupants. In comparison, a small group of OWS protesters across the country are using rocks, clubs, sticks and other projectiles to injure police and others they believe to be responsible for America’s woes.
Although it is true that some Wall Street bankers are very rich, most workers on Wall Street are not. Many lower and middle level employees have lost their jobs because of the protesters and their inability to even get to work. Coffee shop workers, couriers, clerks and others, all part of the 99 per cent have lost or will lose their jobs as a direct result of the OWS protesters. These protests are not grass level movements but politically motivated rallies paid for by unions and action groups such as the former corporation known as Acorn.
The protesters have among their ranks agitators bent on civil disobedience that will not allow the police to do their jobs. In fact, rapes, other sexual crimes as well as the theft of private property have all been committed by elements of the OWS. “Occupy Oakland”, an OWS spin-off, closed the Port of Oakland, California on Wednesday, November 3, 2011, one of the nation’s busiest ports.
On Thursday, November 4, 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “There have been reports, which are equally as disturbing, that when people in Zuccotti Park become aware of crimes, instead of calling the police, they form a circle around the perpetrator,”
The elected officials in Washington, D.C., are the ones that make the laws that made it possible for the financial collapse in 2008 and the continuing devaluation of the housing market and the deepening unemployment crisis.
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After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer.
A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists.
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder – and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords.
But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th.
The warning letter reached the King, and the King’s forces made plans to stop the conspirators.
Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed.
It’s unclear if the conspirators would ever have been able to pull off their plan to blow up the Parliament even if they had not been betrayed. Some have suggested that the gunpowder itself was so old as to be useless. Since Guy Fawkes and the other conspirators got caught before trying to ignite the powder, we’ll never know for certain.
Even for the period which was notoriously unstable, the Gunpowder Plot struck a very profound chord for the people of England. In fact, even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on what is called “the State Opening of Parliament”. Prior to the Opening, and according to custom, the Yeomen of the Guard search the cellars of the Palace of Westminster. Nowadays, the Queen and Parliament still observe this tradition.
On the very night that the Gunpowder Plot was foiled, on November 5th, 1605, bonfires were set alight to celebrate the safety of the King. Since then, November 5th has become known as Bonfire Night. The event is commemorated every year with fireworks and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes on a bonfire.
Some of the English have been known to wonder, in a tongue in cheek kind of way, whether they are celebrating Fawkes’ execution or honouring his attempt to do away with the government.
It will be interesting to see how history will remember the “Occupy Wall Street” movement 400 years from now! Will there be a national holiday complete with fireworks? Will poems and songs be written to commemorate the protesters?
Remember remember the OWS protesters of Zuccotti Park…
Compiled from various sources.