“We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.”
The above statement appears in the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” written by the massive group of protesters that has been congregating in Manhattan’s business district since September 17.
Organized through social media and armed with hand-painted signs, the Occupy Wall Street protestors have been speaking out against corporate America and the nation’s wealthy minority. Many of the handmade signs display slogans about the “bottom 99%” and the “top 1%.” These slogans refer to the fact that the United States’ economic gap is the largest of all Western industrialized nations, and the richest 1% of the population control a disproportionate amount of the wealth.
The demonstrations in New York mirror many protests that have taken place in Europe during recent months. Protesters have also drawn inspiration from the demonstrations in the Middle East. Occupy Wall Street’s web site states, “We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”
Although over 700 individuals have been arrested thus far, protesters continue to camp out in the area surrounding Wall Street.
On October 3, a group of protesters painted their faces and marched past the New York Stock Exchange dressed as “corporate zombies.” October 5 saw members of dozens of Labor Unions marching around Foley Square.
But this spectacle has not been limited to New York. Occupy Wall Street has inspired similar rallies throughout the country. Demonstrators have gathered in Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City and Los Angeles. It has been reported that protest groups in over 50 U.S. cities are currently planning demonstrations.
On October 6, “Occupy Philadelphia” officially began as hundreds of protestors marched to the Liberty Bell. Valerie Woodhouse, a Senior at Eastern, attended the protest in New York and is now assisting the group gathered in Philadelphia. “Most of us work or go to school, we just choose to spend our free time working together to change the corporate corruption we can no longer stand” Woodhouse e-mailed from the rally. “I’ve slept out since the occupation began on Thursday and have been able to voice my opinion at every general assembly I’ve been present for.”
Only time will reveal the magnitude of the impact Occupy Wall Street will have on New York and the rest of the country. Until then, live updates, including a daily agenda can be viewed at www.occupywallstreet.org.
Sources: www.occupywallstreeet.org and www.reuters.com