On September 17th, 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement started in New York City’s Zuccotti Park (now referred to by protesters as “Liberty Park”). Although the movement’s protesters were originally mostly disillusioned college-aged activists, their ranks have swelled to represent a wider range of backgrounds and generations. Occupy Wall Street seems to have become a beacon for those Americans who are often denied a voice in our republic. Gathering together, unified, in such a bastion of Capitalism, however, seems to have attracted a flurry of media attention to their cause and has allowed them to finally be heard.
Several prominent leaders, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have expressed the sentiment that Occupy Wall Street is a “mob.” This could not be further from the truth. The protesters are incredibly well-organized; the Washington Post reports that the protesters have set up a functioning mini-society within lower Manhattan, complete with donated food distribution, a media center to spread updates on the movement, professionals to help coordinate, and various autonomous groups with different lifestyles, but the same goals. This is not the makings of a mob. It is more reminiscent of the civil rights movements of the 60’s – a downtrodden group coming together to demand equality from an entrenched upper class.
The movement is not just present in Manhattan, either. The protests have spread to over 2,700 cities around the world, with the largest crowds in the United States, Spain, Italy, and England. This seems to signify a country-wide and, possibly, world-wide trend of discontent with our current financial system. Although critics of the movement contend that the majority of protesters are uneducated and poor, this is only half-true. The original protesters were well-educated college students who simply could not find work in this economy, and as they spread word of their cause, they were joined by many more who sympathized with them for various reasons.
A very interesting aspect of the movement is its means of media coverage. Mainstream media hardly covers the movement anymore; it has become non-newsworthy due to its nonviolent nature. Additionally, many online posters note that the lack of mainstream coverage is likely due to large media outlets’ being owned by large corporations who are, by nature, against the Occupy movement. Instead, the movement has kept itself alive through social media networks such as Twitter and Reddit.
How long can this movement stay alive? Will it last until the winter cold comes, until the food donations run out, or until police tear down the camps? One usually does not expect a leaderless movement such as this to last for this amount of time; there must be something unifying these people. These people are unified by their hatred for corruption and economic favoritism, and are united in their message. But they need a spokesperson. They need a clear face. Perhaps the face of a child whose home was foreclosed upon by a bank? Or perhaps a bull turned into an ox. That is what the movement is attempting to accomplish, is it not?