The autumn of their discontent – the #occupywallstreet movement
I am a sucker for a call-to-action, and on Wednesday, 28 September, spotted tweets calling for the most audacious sort: #OccupyWallStreet. Cryn Johannsen, founder and executive director of All Education Matters had been tweeting ferociously for hours, by turn rallying the troops and encouraging others to join the sort of protests that, after the Egyptian revolution in February this year, have sprung up from Burkina Faso to Bahrain.
With Cryn’s permission, I am posting an excerpt from a blog she wrote for Loop21 explaining why Americans were taking to the street and why #OccupyWallstreet is now a national movement.
Remember the Arab Spring, and how protesters demanding democratic rights took to social media to begin a massive, widespread protest throughout the Middle East? It didn’t happen overnight but most of those civilian-led demonstrations resulted in the fall of Egypt’s regime. The same thing appears to be happening in the U.S. Protests dubbed ‘America’s Autumn Movement’ by many social media users.
The official protest began on September 17th in lower Manhattan’s financial district. The hashtag on Twitter was initially #OccupyWallStreet, but it soon became #TakeWallStreet, however. The mission on the group’s website states:
On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of non-violence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants.
When the protest began on September 17th over 1,000 protesters descended on New York City’s Wall Street. Many protesters are young and drowning in student loan debt, as this tweet by Matthew Stoller captures:
When the protest kicked off at 9am, it was peaceful and police officers seemed to be, overall, respectful of the protesters. Things, however, took a turn for the worse hours later: Women were kettled, which is a form of containment or corralling (in this case, they used orange-coloured fencing). There are also images of police officers grabbing women by their hair, shoving men down into the pavement with their knees.
Perhaps the outrage from seeing what NYPD police officers did to protesters has sparked the spreading of the movement across the nation. It is hard to speculate, but the occupy movement is popping up in cities across the nation. There is also a page called OccupyTogether.org, and it contains countless cities across the U.S. where people are organizing similar protests.
So, why are these people getting involved? As one protester explains: “This is really the only recourse we have left. Our government has been usurped by wasteful, corrupt and short-sighted powerful interests who in no way have the best interests of the working class and poor.”
Watch the protests on #OccupyWallStreet Livestream.
To read the full blogpost, click here
Perhaps this frank BBC interview with trader Alessio Rastani, who admits that he doesn’t care about the economy, before adding: “Governments do not rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world”, goes a little way to explaining the frustrations of many demonstrators with ‘The Market’.
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