October 10, 2011; Source: Reuters | Eighteen days ago, 10 or so young people set up a protest in a tiny private park around the corner from the New York Stock Exchange. The demo was brazenly, and somewhat laughably, called “Occupy Wall Street.”
No one is laughing now. In New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and now dozens of other cities across the nation, small groups of people are assembling in downtown parks. In recent days we have seen unions and advocacy groups joining the ranks of the encampments around the country. As the Occupy movement has held on, it has organically attracted people concerned about foreclosures, healthcare, unemployment, and other related issues, prompting some to complain about the lack of a cohesive message.
In New York, protester Larry Hales addressed this issue in an interview with Reuters: “One criticism of us has been that our demands are not clear, but I think for most people, the message of why Wall Street is the target is very clear,” he said. “It’s the banking capital of the world.” For now, that seems to be enough of a message to fuel the expansion of a movement that has captured the imagination of young people to an extent not seen since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign.
Beyond the nascent Occupy movement, we have seen a spate of comments from some elites on the lack of balance in our financial and tax systems—most recently from the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
As Occupy Wall Street prepares to enter its fourth week on the ground in New York, NPQ would love to hear your thoughts about this new protest model and how you see it fitting into this economic and social moment.—Ruth McCambridge