Occupy Wall Street is a movement that originated only recently—in September—but has quickly spread to over 900 cities worldwide. Many people have heard of the protesters and seen pictures or video of tents erected in the midst of a city, but few really know what the movement is all about.
In fact, Occupy Wall Street itself is confused about what it is protesting. Although the movement has published lists of goals, there are multiple declarations, which make the protesters appear divided. First published was the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” but as the movement spread, others published their ideas of what needs to be accomplished. Some protesters formed the Demands Working Group which issued another list of demands and goals. This has been followed by the Liberty Square Blueprint, a wiki page of goals continuously edited by some 250 members.
Despite all the confusion about specific goals, there does appear to be one main theme connecting the protesters: 1% of America’s population controls 40% of the wealth, and the other 99% are not happy about it. They are not simply whining about the world being unfair, however. These protesters are concerned that the wealthy are simply making laws to boost their own wealth, and that this needs to change. “We are the 99%” is the movement’s unofficial slogan.
Although their goals may be supported by many, the violence that has erupted in conjunction with the movement is not. In Oakland, CA, on Wednesday November 2, more than 10,000 protesters were able to shut down the nation’s fifth-largest port. During the night, violence broke out and eventually 80 protesters were arrested. Other cities have also been forced to arrest protesters, including Denver, Boston, and Detroit.
It is important to note, however, that the majority of the movement does not support the violence. The small group of violent protesters is threatening to seriously damage the integrity of the movement.
Many are surprised the movement has lasted this long. But Occupy Wall Street is on the move, despite not having a clear set of objectives and the violence of a small group of protesters.