What began as a few hundred people on Wall Street nearly a month ago has grown into country-wide occupations in nearly every major city. After receiving little attention at the beginning, the mainstream media is now reporting on it daily, and it seems everyone is talking about it.
Mainly labeled as a Millennial movement and the voice of Gen Y, supporters of Occupy Wall Street — and, by extension, Occupy Boston, Occupy Chicago, Occupy Seattle, Occupy DC, and Occupy LA (among others) — have been protesting a number of grievances that have gradually grown into the message of “We are the 99%.”
Despite the fact that much of the media attention surrounding the movement has been negative, with many people saying there is “no clear message” and “no unified stance,” one thing is clear: The majority of Americans and Millennials hurt by big corporations and Congress’ inability to make decisions and bail out the rest of the country are finally standing up to draw attention and protest the issues rocking the nation.
“The essence of OWSer’s argument is pretty simple: they’ve got a raw deal; somebody dealt them a bad hand; someone ran their society into a ditch and not a goddammed one of the older generation will set in motion the machinery to correct the situation, or even acknowledge it,” wrote James Howard Kunstler, Well said. This Millennial movement is definitely one of the largest unified protests to sweep the country in recent history.
Although supporters may be protesting numerous grievances, the message behind “We are the 99%” is of great importance. “We are getting kicked our of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re getting work at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1% is getting everything. We are the 99%,” reads the website. The people shown are from all backgrounds, of all ages, and are all proclaiming what the majority of Americans are dealing with on a daily basis.
As a collective movement, Occupy Together can be seen as the unified front for the occupations all over the country: to take action against the greed and corruption of the 1%.
Fellow TNGG writer Christine Slocum reported on the occupation happening in Seattle:
“The Occupy Seattle Protest started Saturday in downtown Seattle’s highly visible Westlake Park and continues despite controversy and arrests. Attendance has fluctuated, as not everyone can be at the park the entire time due to jobs and other responsibilities, notes David Warren. “I work two jobs, today’s my day off.” According to those at the park today, the high point of the protest saw 120 people camped out, with tents covering most of the park. While the mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, expressed support for the protesters, he also told demonstrators they needed to leave the park. Seattle has a no-camping rule for city parks. Twenty five people were arrested for refusing to leave their tents Wednesday. According to one man, who identified himself as Scott N., 24 Jakpaks, a jacket/tent sleeping bag combination, were donated to the protesters in response to this development. When asked how long the protesters would remain, he said, “We’re going to be here till they roll tanks through the park.” Mayor McGinn seems willing to facilitate that, as he arranged with protestors to allow overnight camping in both Westlake Park and City Hall Plaza for two weeks. With another protest being organized by MoveOn.Org for Sunday, it seems that protesters will continue to occupy Seattle.”
Occupy Boston, which officially launched Sept. 30 in Dewey Square, in the heart of the city’s Financial District, grew from as few as 50 people to hundreds, with thousands marching on a few days. As they’ve camped out for the last 10 days, the occupation slowly but steadily gained momentum and media attention. With signs like “If you can’t afford to miss work, you deserve to be here,” and “Where’s my bailout?” and support from nurses and the U.S. Military Veterans, the movement has became hard to ignore.
Just last night, Oct. 10th, over 100 protesters were arrested after attempting to expand the occupation to the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Earlier in the day, an estimated 10,000 people marched from the Boston Common to Dewey Square, which caused a massive increase in police presence. They used cable ties to arrest all sorts of people, from medics to peaceful observers to protesters.
Mayor Menino recently stated that although he “sympathizes with the protesters,” he can’t allow them to “tie up the city,” saying that the occupation had crossed the line by marching to the North Washington Street Bridge and threatening to hold up traffic and expanding their campground to the Greenway, a patch of space they had been asked to stay off.
Occupations across the country don’t show any signs of slowing down and, in fact, may be gaining more momentum as the message becomes more clear, voices continue to be heard, and ideas continue to expand. With Wall Street remaining the strongest occupation thus far, the rest of the major cities will no doubt follow closely behind, as Occupy Together, Gen Y, and the majority of struggling Americans remain strong and in support of the 99%.
What do you think of the Occupy Wall Street Movement?