This past September, a group of demonstrators with the intention to “Occupy Wall Street,” began protesting their concerns of greed, the role that corporations play in politics, the inequality of social classes, and the gap between the richest 1 percent of the country and the remaining 99 percent.
Some members indicate that the original plan was to mimic the protests that occurred earlier this year in countries like Spain, Egypt, and Israel. Although this protest began in New York’s financial district as a group of college students, the movement has spread across the country to reaching cities on the west coast.
This newly found nationwide support of “Occupy Wall Street” came after several hundred protesters were arrested in their attempt to reach Union Square this past Saturday.
In their journey to reach their destination of protest, they blocked the Brooklyn Bridge and were met with resistance from the NYPD. The tactics of the NYPD were seen by the protesters, who thus far have a commitment to non-violence, as an aggressive affront to their peaceful campaign.
On Monday, the protesters took to a more creative form of peaceful action. Many dressed up as “corporate zombies,” with full make up while pretending to eat fake dollar bills.
Regardless, this escalation in the events surrounding this movement have encouraged some to travel to New York to take part, while others in cities like Columbus, Ohio and Los Angeles have been inspired to lead demonstrations of their own.
The specific 1 percent the campaign is protesting against is in reference to banks and the insurance and mortgage industry.
While many in the group, and in the country in general, have frustrations surrounding the recession and may blame those that were in charge of the institutions that contributed to the financial downturn, Larry Cima, an economics professor at John Carroll, said “They [those involved in the demonstrations] do not think about this, but there are new people in the banks and other institutions that they are protesting and that the people, who largely mismanaged, are gone.”
This leaderless group welcomes people of all genders, race, and political affiliation and utilizes social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, to organize.
The majority of the demonstrators are in their twenties and are for the most part unemployed. Although this group does not have a uniform message, many are advocating for a more equal economy. One demonstrator went so far as to indicate that he held communist ideals.
In response to such proposals for economic reform, Cima said, “If you look at the facts and look at Japan and its economic wonders and how it rose up from the ashes, or Western Europe, which is an industrial marvel built on capitalism, you will see that capitalism works and that these people do not know what they are talking about.”
In addition to the movement’s denouncement of the current state of the economy, there are also those present in the group that also decry U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, the U.S. state of the environment, and various other situations in America.
Regardless of the message or the opinion of the group, the media coverage surrounding the campaign is mounting and more events are planned throughout the country.
Despite this, it is still unclear whether this populist group will span into a lasting movement or have a mainstream political impact.