New York, October 17, 2011
New York, October 17, 2011
One month ago today about 2,000 people rallied in Lower Manhattan and marched up Broadway. Stopping at Zuccotti Park an estimated 150 stayed the night and began an encampment. Renaming the space “Liberty Square,” we kicked off a protest against bank bailouts, corporate greed, and the unchecked power of Wall Street in Washington. In the last month, the message of “We are the 99%” has won the hearts and minds of over half of Americans (according to a recent Time survey) and is gaining ground globally, with 1500 protests in 82 countries this past Saturday (October 15).
“I am here to celebrate the 30th day of this protest against corporate power,” said Karanja Gacuca from Liberty Square, a former Wall Street analyst who now organizes with Occupy Wall Street. “Concerned about the egregious Wall Street bonuses — particularly after the industry accepted a tax-payer bailout and the middle class continues to be squeezed — I believe it’s time for a fairer system that provides health care, education, and opportunity for all, and rejects corporate influence over government.”
Inspired by the uprisings across the Arab world, and fueled by the feelings of anger and helplessness of everyday Americans, in the past month Occupy Wall Street has:
- Gone Global: On October 15th, protests were held from North and South America to Asia, Africa and Europe, with over 1,500 events in 82 countries, as part of a global day of action.
- Flourished with Diversity: Occupiers of different ages, races, walks of life, and political beliefs have joined the movement. The mix grew quickly to include students, elderly people, families with children, construction workers on their lunch breaks, unemployed Wall Street executives, Iraq & Afghanistan veterans, moms, and many others.
- Gained Support in the Heartland: Occupy actions are happening all across middle America, from Kethcum, ID to Kalamazoo, MI, from Orlando to Anchorage. Every day financial contributions arrive along with clothes, food, and notes of support from all across the country. A couple from West Virginia who have been sending supplies to Liberty Square occupiers writes: “We are so grateful for all of you involved in this defense of America. We firmly believe this is ‘it.’ If we can’t grab this democracy this time, we’ll sink and it will be a long time before we will have this opportunity again. Thank you for taking time from your busy life to be there.”
- Changed the Conversation: The people-powered force of shared anger at a broken system that profits the top 1% at the expense of the rest of us has shifted our national dialogue. The Occupy Wall Street protest has become a cultural phenomenon, mentioned everywhere from jokes on Saturday Night Live to the solemn dedication the national memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by President Obama Sunday. We, the occupiers, have shown our country how to come together and respect differences while working together to build a movement for change.