Occupy Wall Street

Americans Fed up With Social Injustices Rally Together in Occupy Protests

Movement for change created “by the people, for the people”

It’s not really socialism, although it does borrow socialistic principles. It’s not really hippies, although it involves people of all attire. It’s not a bunch of lazy, unemployed Americans, although it does address job loss.

The Occupy movement is not a lot of things we’ve heard. It is, however, perhaps the beginning of a brand new age. Maybe even a brand new world.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is now in day 40 with protests in all 50 states as well as around the world (more than 45 countries according to one count). People from all backgrounds gather daily in public parks and streets, as well as online, with one thing in common:  dreams of a better world.  American Occupy movements aim to restore democracy while International Occupy movements focus more on global social fairness.

As Andy Kroll reported in Mother Jones, a nonprofit news organization, “The people are not here for the American economic crisis. They’re here for the crisis of the world.”

At the heart of the movement is a battle against the control that major banks and multinational companies have over the democratic process.  Another major issue is Wall Streets’ responsibility for creating the greatest recession in generations.


The goal of America’s movement, if there is one goal, is to show that the richest 1 percent of Americans are deciding the fate of the rest of the 99 percent’s future in an unfair global economy.

But this is just one goal. The movement is also people gathering without leaders so that each individual voice can be heard, sensible ideas can be brought to life and the power of the people can create real solutions to America’s financial distress. Kind of like a small group discussion project at college only bigger. Much bigger.

But not everyone shares the vision of the movement. Over a dozen customers belonging to CitiBank were arrested early this month while they attempted to close accounts. The customers were detained and locked in by bank security until police arrived who arrested them. The charges are unclear. One woman and a man standing outside the bank were forced back inside by security to be arrested. Videos of the event were taken by multiple spectators and posted to youtube. Interestingly, stories of this incident haven’t been publicized widely by mainstream media.

The account closing was a solution developed by the Wall Street group to not only protest big banks but also to develop a solution to bank corruption. The group intended to deposit their funds into credit unions instead.


This is how the movement works. The people gather both in small groups and in “general assemblies” in public places.

The New York General Assembly was created with the vision of being more than a typical “protest.” The idea of a general assembly is to create on-going discussion without a specified focus on a topic or person, according to OccupyWallSt.org.  As media theorist Douglas Rushkof in his CNN article says, “It’s not a protest, but a prototype for a new way of living.”

In its infancy, the NYCGA would meet on Saturdays in Tompkins Square Park at 5:30 p.m. The discussions trudged on into the night, some as long as five and a half hours.

As the movement grew, protesters also met in small group discussions and teach-in’s with topics such asArt and Culture, Social Media Training, Eco-socialism, How to start a Co-operative Food Business and even multi-faith services for diverse groups of faith leaders and faith communities. It’s almost like a convention.

Protesters march the streets in solidarity with other occupied cities. The New York movement has been organized with donations of food, water, generators and computers. What started as a lending library has even turned into a collection of over 1,800 books that are now given away.

Occupy Wall Street uses a micro radio station that simulcasts a round the clock live stream of life inside the park as well as local protest actions. Another media outlet the movement is using is an “unofficial” publication called “The Occupied Wall Street Journal,” made possible by dozens of volunteers. It is available online at www.occupiedmedia.com.


Grass Roots Efforts not Completely Home Grown

The Occupy Movement started Sept. 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, New York’s financial district. It has spread to over 100 US cities and actions in over 1,500 cities all over the world. 

“We use a tool known as ‘peoples’ assembly’ to facilitate collective decision making in an open, participatory, and non-binding manner,” the group explains on their occupywallst.org website. People from all races, genders and beliefs are welcomed to join.

The movement started with a group of writers, activists and organizers from New York, Spain, Egypt, Japan and Greece that congregated near Wall Street months before it became occupied to discuss changing the world. This group later created what they call the “New York General Assembly,” an outdoor gathering place to share ideas.  

The other group that contributed to the start of Occupy Wall Street, but is not affiliated with OccupyWallSt.org, was “Adbusters,” a Canadian anti-capitalist magazine. According to the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones, Adbusters sparked the idea on July 13, 2011 with their message: Occupy Wall Street!

Supporters of Occupy Wall Street include celebrities, and diverse businesses and groups, such as the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company, BlackRock (an investment management corporation), filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Nurses United from Chicago. Vietnam and Iraq veterans can be seen protesting as well.

The Transport Workers Union of America has become a major supporter of the movement. “This message has to be heard, it has to be continuous and it can’t be stopped,” says James C. Little, International president of the TWU, “We gotta be there for them.”


The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.