Occupy Wall Street Movement Reaches National Stage

Posted on November 23, 2011 by

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The silent majority has spoken, and it does not seem that its cry will be easily muffled this time. The Occupy Wall Street movement, which, in recent weeks, has been a matter of great interest to many Americans, has taken flight and is gaining support at an alarming rate.

Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing series of demonstrations centered in Zucotti Park within the Wall Street financial district, has an origin that would likely surprise most Americans. These protests were actually prompted by Adbusters, an activist group based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The protests commenced on 17 September, when groups of people came together to spend the night in Zucotti Park. Others began to follow suit and word quickly began to spread. Hundreds turned to thousands as the protest rapidly swelled in magnitude, soon attracting even celebrities, most notably popular rapper Kanye West.

Support for Occupy Wall Street has built up to an even greater extent on the Internet. The movement has over 100,000 supporters on Facebook and also boasts its own strongly worded website. On this site, protesters are encouraged to become “Pen Pals” with American bank executives; in other words, the site provides supporters of the cause with a platform for communication with those against whom they are protesting.

What is unclear to many is what these protestors really want.

“The legitimate protesters are protesting the overbearing level of corporate corruption of politics via special interest groups with unlimited spending,” Fleetwood senior Conor Donohoe said.

Though this is a major issue of interest for Occupy Wall Street supporters, it is far from being the only injustice brought into the spotlight by the movement. Occupiers armed with signs and banners are targeting large corporations and their influence on economic policy as well as other general issues such as economic and social inequality and tax exemptions for upper-income Americans.

More than anything, however, the Occupy Wall Street movement has served in uniting dissatisfied Americans under a common goal of pushing for an improved economic environment for all citizens, not just the top 1% of America that holds about 40% of the nation’s wealth. It is from  uneven distribution that supporters of the protest have drawn their slogan: “We are the 99%.” This 99 percent has no leader but is simply the coalition of countless individuals who value their right to protest what they see as a corrupt American system.

Not surprisingly, many Americans are critical of the movement and the people who have taken part in it. Many critics see the movement as poorly organized with no central issue at its base. Herman Cain, a presidential contender for the Republican Party, even denounced Wall Street protesters, calling them “jealous” and saying that they have chosen to “play the victim card.”

Other Americans have mixed feelings about the movement, including Jen Goss, who teaches AP U.S. Government and Politics at Fleetwood.

“I’m glad to see there are people taking action, but I think they would benefit from better organization,” Goss said.

Many Fleetwood students have taken a strong interest in the movement, and some have even attended protests at Wall Street. Among these students is senior Sam Moran, who made the trek to New York City to get a better idea of what Occupy Wall Street is all about.

“It was definitely a unique experience, but I feel that regardless of whether or not you’ve actually attended it, you can get a good idea of what the movement really is,” Moran said.

As it pushes into its second month of existence, the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to gain momentum and attract the interest of Americans and even citizens of other countries. Though its long-term implications have yet to become clear, it is certain that the Occupy Wall Street movement has made its presence felt in America and will not soon be forgotten.

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