News and Politics

Occupy Wall Street: An Overview

Some people are beginning to ask about what the Occupy Wall Street movement is.  The website promoting the resistance recently described it as a people-powered movement that is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1 percent of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.

Before the occupation began, the people involved in the movement started the “99 percent project” to raise awareness of economic inequalities within America and gain support for the protest’s cause.

Professor Domhoff of the Sociology Department in the University of California at Santa Cruz, explains, “In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 38.3 percent of all privately held stock, 60.6 percent of financial securities, and 62.4 percent of business equity. The top 10 percent have 80 percent to 90 percentof stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and over 75 percent of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10 percent of the people own the United States of America”.

The actual occupation began on Sept. 17 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District and has since spread to over 100 cities in the United States, such as Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles. The movement is also spreading through actions in over 1,500 cities globally, such as Madrid, London, Rome, Berlin and Hong Kong.

Despite the fast growth of the organization, coverage on the protests, and the discussions it promotes, are just starting to become well known among the public.  Many protesters believe this lack of coverage was purposeful, others simply demand more.   American political commentator and writer Keith Olberman stated he finds the media “too corrupt or too dense to understand anything more complicated than whether the blonde is missing or the verdict is guilty.” He further criticized other news anchors on their narrow-minded research techniques.

Debates across the nation have ensued on the new movement, a major argument against it is that the group has no real demands or focus.  On Oct. 12, the Washington Post interviewed Kalle Lasn, author, editor, and co-founder of Adbusters media foundation, about how he sees the global revolution playing out and the criticism of the movement being leaderless and for having no focus. “The messy, leaderless, demandless movement has launched a national conversation of the likes that we haven’t had in 20 years,”.  He replied “That’s as good as it gets! Not every one needs to have a leader with clear demands. That’s the old way of launching revolutions. This revolution is run by the Internet generation, with egalitarian ways of looking at things, and an inclusive process of getting everyone involved. That’s the magic of it.”

To help relieve confusion about their goals, Occupy Wallstreet declared a list of grievances towards the aforementioned 1 percent:

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

However, the lack of official demands on legislative acts to change theses grievances left many unimpressed. They ask for concrete ideas for providing the change they wish to see.  Despite the money New York is losing to pay police officers overtime to contain the occupation, which includes the use of pepper spray and physical abuse, most New Yorkers seem to have come to agree with the movement.  On October 8, the New York Times released an editorial statement, expressing their official stance on the demand debate:

“It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself.”

Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with no loyalty to political parties.  Both republicans and democrats are involved with the movement, seeking only a change in the amount of corruption within the banking systems and business profit plans.  To learn more about the movement from the inside or to view updates of the protests , visit their website at:


Interested in videos of police involvement within the protest?

NYPD attack protestors    with mase

Article Sources:     Washington

Picture/Video sources: