Occupy Wall Street


Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street
Part of the Occupy movement
Poster depicting a female ballerina pirouetting on the back of the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street; on the street behind her, a line of gas-masked rioters struggle through smoke. Text on the poster reads: "What is our one demand? #OCCUPYWALLSTREET September 17th. Bring Tent."
Adbusters poster promoting the start date of the occupation, September 17, 2011.
Date September 17, 2011 (2011-09-17) – ongoing
(67 days)
Location New York City
Status Ongoing with "occupy" movements having formed in other cities. See: List of Occupy movement protest locations.
Causes Wealth inequality, Corporate influence of government, Populism, (in support of) Social Democracy, inter alia.
Characteristics
Number
Zuccotti Park

Other activity in NYC:

  • 2,000+ marchers
    (march on police headquarters, October 2, 2011)[1]
  • 700+ marchers
    (crossing Brooklyn Bridge, October 3, 2011)[2]
  • 15,000+ marchers
    (Lower Manhattan solidarity march, October 5, 2011)[3]
  • 6,000+ marchers
    (Times Square recruitment center march, October 15, 2011)[4]

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is an ongoing series of demonstrations initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters which began September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park of New York City's Wall Street financial district. The protests are against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, as well as corruption, and the undue influence of corporations—particularly that of the financial services sector—on government. The protesters' slogan We are the 99% refers to the growing difference in wealth in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. Occupy Wall Street has led to the broader Occupy movement of leaderless protests in other cities across America and around the world.

Contents

Background

Origin

In a July 13, 2011 blog post, the Canadian-based Adbusters Foundation, best known for its advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, a growing disparity in wealth, and the absence of legal repercussions behind the recent global financial crisis.[5][6] They sought to combine the symbolic location of the 2011 protests in Tahrir Square with the consensus decision making of the 2011 Spanish protests.[7] Adbusters' senior editor Micah White said they had suggested the protest via their email list and it "was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world.”[6] Adbusters' website said that from their "one simple demand, a presidential commission to separate money from politics," they would "start setting the agenda for a new America."[8] They promoted the protest with a poster featuring a dancer atop Wall Street's iconic Charging Bull.[9][10]

The internet group Anonymous encouraged its followers to take part in the protests, calling protesters to "flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street."[11][12] Other groups began to join in the organization of the protest, including the U.S. Day of Rage and the NYC General Assembly, the governing body of the Occupy Wall Street group.[13]

Adbusters' Kalle Lasn, when asked why it took three years after the implosion of Lehman Brothers' for people to begin protesting, said that after the election of President Obama there was a feeling among the young that he would pass laws to regulate the banking system and "take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice." However, as time passed, "the feeling that he's a bit of a gutless wonder slowly crept in" and they lost their hope that his election would result in change.[14]

The protest was begun at Zuccotti Park since it was private property and police could not legally force them to leave without being requested to do so by the property owner.[15] At a press conference held on the same day as the protests began, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg explained, "People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we'll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it."[13]

We are the 99%

A chart showing the disparity in income distribution in the United States.[16][17] Wealth inequality and income inequality have been central concerns among OWS protesters.[18][19][20] CBO data shows that in 1980, the top 1% earned 9.1% of all income, while in 2006 they earned 18.8% of all income.[21]

The phrase "The 99%" is a political slogan of "Occupy" protesters.[22] It was originally launched as a Tumblr blog page in late August of 2011.[23][24] It refers to the vast concentration of wealth among the top 1% of income earners compared to the other 99 percent.[25]

The top 1 percent of income earners have more than doubled their income over the last thirty years according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report.[26] The report was released just as concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement were beginning to enter the national political debate.[27] According to the CBO, between 1979 and 2007 the incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew by an average of 275%. During the same time period, the 60% of Americans in the middle of the income scale saw their income rise by 40%. Since 1979 the average pre-tax income for the bottom 90% of households has decreased by $900, while that of the top 1% increased by over $700,000, as federal taxation became less progressive. From 1992-2007 the top 400 income earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 392% and their average tax rate reduced by 37%.[28] In 2009, the average income of the top 1% was $960,000 with a minimum income of $343,927.[29][30][31]

In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%. Financial inequality (total net worth minus the value of one's home)[32] was greater than inequality in total wealth, with the top 1% of the population owning 42.7%, the next 19% of Americans owning 50.3%, and the bottom 80% owning 7%.[33] However, after the Great Recession which started in 2007, the share of total wealth owned by the top 1% of the population grew from 34.6% to 37.1%, and that owned by the top 20% of Americans grew from 85% to 87.7%. The Great Recession also caused a drop of 36.1% in median household wealth but a drop of only 11.1% for the top 1%, further widening the gap between the 1% and the 99%.[33][34][35] During the economic expansion between 2002 and 2007, the income of the top 1% grew 10 times faster than the income of the bottom 90%. In this period 66% of total income gains went to the 1%, who in 2007 had a larger share of total income than at any time since 1928.[16]

Demographics

The protesters vary in political outlook; some are liberals, political independents, anarchists, with others identifying as socialists, libertarians, or environmentalists.[36][37] Early on the protesters were mostly young due to their pronounced use of social networks through which they promoted the protests.[36][38] As the protest grew, older protesters also became involved.[39] Various religious faiths have been represented at the protest including Muslims, Jews, and Christians.[40][41] On October 10 the Associated Press reported that "there’s a diversity of age, gender and race" at the protest.[39] Some news organizations have compared the protest to a left-leaning version of the Tea Party protests.[42]

According to a survey of Zuccotti Park protesters by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, 1/3 were older than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents.[43]

Organization and group process

Protesters engaging in the 'human microphone'

The New York City General Assembly (NYCGA), held every evening at seven, is the main OWS decision-making body and provides much of the leadership and executive function for the protesters. At its meetings the various OWS committees discuss their thoughts and needs, and the meetings are open to the public for both attendance and speaking. The meetings are without formal leadership, although certain members routinely act as moderators. Meeting participants comment upon committee proposals using a process called a "stack," a queue of speakers that anyone can join. New York uses what is called a progressive stack, in which people from marginalized groups are sometimes allowed to speak before people from dominant groups, with facilitators, or stack-keepers, urging speakers to "step forward, or step back" based on which group they belong to, meaning that women and minorities get to go to the front of the line, while white men must often wait for a turn to speak.[44][45] The "progressive stack" concept is controversial inside the Occupy movement, and has been criticized outside the movement as "forced equality" and "unfair."[46] Volunteers take minutes of the meetings so that organizers who are not in attendance can be kept up-to-date.[47][48]

The group has been frequently criticized for its lack of specific policy demands. The General Assembly has already adopted a “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” which includes a list of grievances against corporations, and many protesters believe that the general statement is enough.[49] However, in early October[49] other protesters, strongly in favor of a need for demands, had formed a Demands Working Group to identify and present a formal statement of specific actions they would ask local and federal governments to adopt.[49] The Demands group published its list of demands in the New York Times in mid-October.[50][51][52] On October 31, 2011 the Demands Working Group disappeared from the New York City General Assembly website. The server logs show the group was self deleted by the groups controlling administrator. The Official NYC GA website, "Site News" stated that administrators of groups have the ability to delete their own group at any time.[53] In addition to the over 70 working groups[54] that perform much of the daily work and planning of Occupy Wall Street, the organizational structure also includes "spokes councils," at which every working group can participate.[55]

According to Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, "Occupy Wall Street" and similar movements, symbolize another rise of direct democracy that has not actually been seen since ancient times.[56] Sociologist Heather Gautney, also from Fordham University has said, while the organization calls itself leaderless, the protest in Zuccotti Park has discernible "organizers".[57] Even with the perception of a movement with no leaders, leaders have emerged. Ad hoc leaders have been discussing whether to leave. They plan for the occupation of other cities and neighborhoods, with an infrastructure to keep the movement beyond just the park. A facilitator of some of the movement's more contentious discussions, Nicole Carty says “Usually when we think of leadership, we think of authority, but nobody has authority here,” - “People lead by example, stepping up when they need to and stepping back when they need to.”[58] According to TheStreet.com, some organizers have made more of a commitment and are more visible than others, with a core of about five main organizers being the most active.[59]

Funding

On October 27, according to The Wall Street Journal, "A few weeks ago, the Alliance for Global Justice, a Washington-based nonprofit, agreed to sponsor Occupy Wall Street and lend it its tax-exempt status, so donors could write off contributions. That means the Alliance for Global Justice's board has final say on spending, though it says it's not involved in decisions and will only step in if the protesters want to spend money on something that might violate their tax-exempt status."[60][60][61] As of late October it was reported that the OWS Finance Committee works with a lawyer and an accountant to track finances; the group has a substantial amount of money deposited at the Amalgamated Bank nearby, after first making deposits at the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union.[62] In late October the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street registered for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3)[63] Occupy Wall Street accepts tax-deductible donations, primarily through the movement's website.[64]

According to finance group member Pete Dutro, OWS had accumulated over $600,000 and had $450,000 remaining as of November 21, 2011. During the period that protesters were encamped in the park the funds were being used to purchase food and other necessities and to bail out fellow protesters. In the future members of the OWS finance committee say they will initiate a process to streamline the movement and re-evaluate their budget. They may eliminate or restructure some of the "working groups" they no longer need on a day-to-day basis. "We have some ideas but we want to hear ideas from the other working groups," said Dutro, "So we can put forward a proposal that would be fair and suit everybody's needs." Presently the movement continues to organize out of donated office space and give money to other "occupations." [65]

Goals

While the Demands Working Group favored a fairly concrete set of national policy proposals, others within the movement prefer a looser, more localized set of goals and they have put together a competing document, the Liberty Square Blueprint,[66] a wiki page edited by some 250 occupiers and still undergoing changes. The introduction to the draft document read: "Demands cannot reflect inevitable success. Demands imply condition, and we will never stop. Demands cannot reflect the time scale that we are working with."[50]

Journalists such as Shannon Bond for the Financial Times have said it was hard to discern a unified aim for the movement. However, other commentators have said that although the movement is not in complete agreement on its message and goals, it does have a message which is fairly coherent. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, protesters want more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and a reduction of the influence of corporations on politics.[67] Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn has compared the protests to the Situationists and the Protests of 1968 movements.[68][69]

Zuccotti Park encampment

Zuccotti Park with the "Occupy" encampment's 'People's Library'

Prior to being closed to overnight use, somewhere between 100 and 200 people slept in Zuccotti Park. Initially tents were not allowed and protesters slept in sleeping bags or under blankets. [70] Meals were served at a cost of about $1,000 a day and some visitors ate at nearby restaurants,[71] however local vendors fared badly,[72] and many businesses surrounding the park were adversely effected.[73] Contribution boxes collected about $5,000 a day, and supplies came in from around the country. [71] Eric Smith, a local chef who was laid off at the Sheraton in Midtown, said that he was running a five-star restaurant in the park.[74] In late-October kitchen volunteers complained about working 18 hour days to feed people who were not part of the movement and served only brown rice, simple sandwiches, and potato chips for three days.[75]

The protesters constructed a greywater treatment system to recycle dishwater contaminants.[76][77] The filtered water was used for the park's plants and flowers. Many protesters used the bathrooms of nearby business establishments.[78] Some supporters donated use of their bathrooms for showers and the sanitary needs of protesters.[79][80]

New York City requires a permit to use "amplified sound," including electric bullhorns. Since Occupy Wall Street does not have a permit, the protesters have created the "human microphone" in which a speaker pauses while the nearby members of the audience repeats the phrase in unison. The effect has been called "comic or exhilarating—often all at once." Some feel this has provided a further unifying effect for the crowd.[81][82]

Feeding people in the temporary camp simple sandwiches

During the weeks that overnight use of the park was allowed, a separate area was set aside for an information area which contained laptop computers and several wireless routers.[83][84] The items were powered with gas generators until the New York Fire Department removed them as a fire hazard on October 28.[85] Protesters then used bicycles rigged with an electricity-generating apparatus to charge batteries to power the protesters' laptops and other electronics.[86] According to the Columbia Journalism Review's New Frontier Database, the media team, while unofficial, runs websites like Occupytogether.org, video livestream, a "steady flow of updates on Twitter, and Tumblr" as well as Skype sessions with other demonstrators.[87]

In October a makeshift tent was erected, formally calling itself The People's Library, and began offering free wi-fi internet to protesters and over 5,000 books. The library operated 24/7 and used an honor system to manage returns. It offered weekly poetry readings on Friday nights, provided a reference serviced frequently staffed by professional librarians, and procured materials available through the interlibrary loan system.[88] However, the library was removed on November 15 when the park was closed to overnight use and it was reported that many of the books were destroyed. The library's cataloging system is accessible online at LibraryThing, which donated a free lifetime membership.

Zucotti Park, cleared and cleaned on November 15, 2011

On October 6, Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, issued a statement that "Sanitation is a growing concern... Normally the park is cleaned and inspected every weeknight[, but] because the protesters refuse to cooperate ... the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16 and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels."[89][90]

On October 13, New York City's mayor Bloomberg and Brookfield announced that the park must be vacated for cleaning the following morning at 7 am.[91] However, protesters vowed to "defend the occupation" after police said they wouldn’t allow them to return with sleeping bags and other gear following the cleaning, under rules set by the private park’s owner—and many protesters spent the night sweeping and mopping the park.[92][93] The next morning, the property owner postponed its cleaning effort.[92] Having prepared for a confrontation with the authorities to prevent the cleaning effort from proceeding, some protesters clashed with police in riot gear outside City Hall after it was canceled.[91]

Shortly after midnight on November 15, 2011, the New York Police Department gave protesters notice from the park's owner (Brookfield Office Properties) to leave Zuccotti Park due to its purportedly unsanitary and hazardous conditions. The notice stated that they could return without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.[94][95] About an hour later, police in riot gear began removing protesters from the park, arresting some 200 people in the process, including a number of journalists. While the police raid was in progress, the Occupy Wall Street Media Team issued an official response under the heading, "You can't evict an idea whose time has come."[96]

Reaction

Public opinion

National polls over October and November 2011 were mixed, with agreement/approval ratings for Occupy Wall Street varying from 59% to 22%, but approval was fairly consistently larger than disapproval, with large numbers often not giving an opinion. A November 3 poll done by Quinnipiac University found that just 30 percent of American voters have a favorable view of the protests, while 39 percent do not. The same poll found that among independent voters, 29 percent have a favorable view opposed to 42 percent who have an unfavorable view.[97][98]

An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey released October 12th found that 37 percent of respondents "tend to support" the occupy movement, while 18 percent "tend to oppose" it.[99] An October 13 survey by TIME magazine found that 54 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of the protests, while 23 percent have a negative impression. An October 18 Gallup poll found that 22 percent of Americans agree with the protest's goals, while 15 percent disapprove and the remaining 61% say they don't know enough to decide. Gallup found that Democrats, Independents and Republicans all follow the news about OWS in equal numbers, and those who closely followed OWS were more likely to approve of its goals and methods.[100] An October CBS News/New York Times polls found 43% of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street while 27% disagree.[101] An October Rasmussen poll found an almost even split, shows that 33 percent of Americans have a favorable view, while 27 percent are unfavorable and 40 percent have no opinion.[102] An October United Technologies/National Journal Congressional poll found that 59 percent of Americans agree with the movement while 31 percent disagree.[103]

An October Quinnipiac University poll of New York City voters found that 67 percent of New Yorkers approved of the movement with 23 percent disapproving. The results also found 87 percent of New Yorkers find it OK that they are protesting.[104] Despite media criticism that the protesters views are incoherent, the poll also found that 72 percent of New York City voters understand their views.[105] A NY1-Marist Poll released November 1st showed 44 percent of New York voters supported the Occupy Wall Street movement, while only 21 percent supported the Tea Party.[106]

Political response

The White House

During an October 6 news conference, President Obama said "I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country ... and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place."[107][108][109] When Jake Tapper of ABC News pushed Obama to explain the fact that his administration hasn't prosecuted any Wall Street executives who didn't play by the rules, he replied, "One of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehman's and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn't necessarily illegal; it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless."[110][111] On October 18, when interviewed by ABC news, he said "in some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them."[112][113]

Vice President Joe Biden likened the protest to the Tea Party, saying, "What are the people up there on the other end of the political spectrum saying? The same thing: 'Look guys, the bargain is not on the level anymore.' In the minds of the vast majority of the American—the middle class is being screwed."[114]

Congress

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va), at the Values Voter Summit

House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said she supports the growing nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement. Pelosi said she includes herself in the group of Americans dissatisfied with Congress and stated, "I support the message to the establishment, whether it's Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen. We cannot continue in a way (that) is not relevant to their lives."[115]

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with the Democratic Party, appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann and supported the protests saying, "We desperately need a coming together of working people to stand up to Wall Street. We need to rebuild the middle-class in this country and you guys can't have it all."[116]

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va), in a speech to a Values Voter Summit, characterized the movement as "growing mobs" and said that President Barack Obama's "failed policies" and rhetoric "condon[ing] the pitting of Americans against Americans" were to blame. In response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney accused Cantor of "unbound" hypocrisy, given the Majority Leader's support of the Tea Party Protests, adding, "I don't understand why one man's mob is another man's democracy." Carney characterized both movements as examples of American democratic traditions.[117]

The Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representatives Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, announced their solidarity with the movement on October 4.[118] The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is asking for 100,000 names on its website which will subsequently be added to 100,000 letters to Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor expressing support for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, the middle class, and opposition to tax loopholes for millionaires and big oil.[119]

2012 Presidential candidates

U.S. Congressman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX) stated, "If they were demonstrating peacefully, and making a point, and arguing our case, and drawing attention to the Fed—I would say, 'good!'"[120] In a GOP debate, mentioning the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, he stated that crony capitalists are those “that benefit from contract from government, benefit from the Federal Reserve, benefit from all the bailouts. They don’t deserve compassion. They deserve taxation or they deserve to have all their benefits removed."[121]

2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain accused the movement of being "anti-capitalist" and argued "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself!"[122] Republican Ron Paul came out to refute Cain by saying, "the system has been biased against the middle class and the poor...the people losing jobs, it wasn't their fault that we've followed a deeply flawed economic system."[123] In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cain also expressed his belief that Occupy Wall Street was "planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration," but admitted that he "[didn't] have facts" to back up his accusation.[124]

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying at the 2012 Bloomberg Washington Post Debate, "Let me draw a distinction. Virtually every American has a reason to be angry. I think virtually [every] American has a reason to be worried. I think the people who are protesting in Wall Street break into two groups: one is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people who frankly are very close to the Tea Party people who care. And actually... you can tell which are which. The people who are decent, responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it, so let’s draw that distinction."[125] On November 21, Gingrich was quoted as saying to the protesters that they should "Go get a job right after you take a bath."[126]

2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did admit that there were 'bad actors,' and the need for them to be 'found and plucked out.' Yet, he believes to aim at one industry or region of America is a mistake and views encouraging the Occupy Wall Street protests as "dangerous" and inciting "class warfare."[127][128] Romney later expressed sympathy for the movement, saying, "I look at what's happening on Wall Street and my view is, boy, I understand how those people feel."[129]

2012 Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer expressed support for the movement, saying, "We have almost permanent unemployment. They say it’s nine percent, but the real unemployment rate is more like 16 percent. These are people there are no jobs for, or they have to work part time to try to make ends meet. It’s disturbing. The Wall Street protest is unshaped, unfocused, but there’s a lot of power in it."[130]

On October 18, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson visited with the protesters in New York, expressing his support for the movement, stating, "I just have to express my solidarity with everyone there that expresses the notion that we have a country that doles it out unfairly. Corporatism is alive and well in this country."[131]

Other politicians

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the protests "aren't productive," although he also expressed sympathy for some of their complaints.[132] On October 8, during his weekly radio show, Bloomberg complained that the protesters are trying to "take the jobs from the people working in the city," and said that although "[t]here are some people with legitimate complaints, there are some people who just like to protest."[133]

In an interview with The Washington Post, Former Democratic U.S. Senator Russ Feingold endorsed the movement on October 5 stating, "This is like the Tea Party—only it's real... By the time this is over, it will make the Tea Party look like ... a tea party."[134] Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the demonstrations of the OWS movement were "as American as apple pie," adding "“This is something that our political leaders need to think about. It isn’t enough just to scream at our Occupy Wall Street demonstrators — we need our political system to start reflecting this anger back into how do we fix it? How do we get the economy going again?”[135]

Federal Reserve

During a hearing before the Joint Economic Committee October 4, 2011, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, "[P]eople are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what’s happening. They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they’re dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington. And at some level, I can’t blame them. Certainly, 9 percent unemployment and very slow growth is not a good situation."[136] Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard W. Fisher said that he was "somewhat sympathetic" to the views of the protesters, and added, "We have too many people out of work. We have a very uneven distribution of income. We have a very frustrated people, and I can understand their frustration."[137] Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke commented about protester's blame of the Fed saying: "“The concerns about the Fed are based on misconceptions, A very simplistic interpretation of that [criticism] was that we were doing that because we wanted to preserve banker salaries. That was obviously not the case.” Bernanke has stated that policies aimed at boosting the economy will continue.[138]

Authors and academics

Naomi Klein leading an open forum on October 6

Canadian writer Naomi Klein has spoken at the protest several times. Writing in the New York Times she said she is "delighted" that OWS has not given in to issuing a list of demands. "This is a young movement still in the process of determining just how powerful it is, and that power will determine what demands are possible. Small movements have to settle for small reforms: big ones have the freedom to dream."[139]

Educator and author Cornel West addressed the frustrations that some critics have expressed at the protest’s lack of a clear and unified message, saying, "It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening."[140]

Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek gave a speech on Wall Street in which he expressed support for the protests saying, "They tell you we are dreamers. The true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are. We are not dreamers. We are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare."[141][142][143]

On November 15, when police closed the park to overnight use by the protesters, Chris Hedges, who has been participating since the onset, wrote in his weekly column that he believed that through a rigid adherence to nonviolence and a verbal respect for the police, the movement would continue to move forward to see the realization of its goals.[144]

Over one thousand authors have announced their support for the movement via “Occupy Writers”, an online petition that states “We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.”[145] The initiative began when Jeff Sharlet e-mailed Salman Rushdie to suggest a petition for writers who support Occupy Wall Street,[146] and signatories range the spectrum of literary genres and include Margaret Atwood,[147] Noam Chomsky,[147][148] Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket, and Alice Walker.[149] The site also features original work from the writers expressing their take on the Occupy movement.[150][151]

Authors and academics supporting include Ravi Batra,[152][153] David Graeber,[154] Stéphane Hessel,[155] Paul Krugman,[156] Jeff Madrick,[157] Joseph Stiglitz,[157] Jimmy Wales,[158] and Richard D. Wolff.[159]

Celebrities

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, who is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, on Day 28 of Occupy Wall Street[160]

On September 19, Roseanne Barr, the first celebrity to endorse the protest, spoke to protesters calling for a combination of capitalism and socialism and a system not based on "bloated talk radio hosts and that goddamn Ayn Rand book."[161][162]

Filmmaker Michael Moore also spoke in support, saying, "They have tried to take our democracy and turn it into a kleptocracy."[163][164] Rapper Lupe Fiasco, one of the initial supporters of Occupy Wall Street, wrote a poem, "Moneyman," for the protest.[165][166] Susan Sarandon spoke at the demonstration saying, "I came down here to educate myself.... There's a huge void between the rich and the poor in this country."[167] Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo has supported the Occupy Wall Street protest saying, "Peaceful Resistance. That is what changes the world. We must be peaceful. This movement is about decency."[168]

Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel played a solo acoustic set for the protesters on October 4,[169] and Tom Morello performed on October 13.[170] Folk singer Pete Seeger led a group of several hundred protesters on a march through the streets on October 22, singing several songs, including "This Land Is Your Land" and "We Shall Overcome." Other musicians joining them included Arlo Guthrie, Tao Rodríguez-Seeger, Tom Chapin, David Amram, and Guy Davis.[171]

On October 23, Asmaa Mahfouz, whose video blog helped spark the 2011 uprising in Egypt, held a teach-in at Liberty Plaza. When asked why she came to the OWS protest she replied, "Many of U.S. residents was in solidarity with us. So, we have to keep going all over the world, because another world is possible for all of us."[172]

On October 23, musicians Sean Lennon and Rufus Wainwright showed their support for the Occupy movement and played among a large crowd in Zuccotti Park.[173][174]

On October 25, international street artist Above completed a 255 foot long mural in Miami, Florida that read "Give a wall st. banker enough rope and he will hang himself" next to Interstate 95. The artist installed a controversial effigy that mimicked a 'wall st' banker hanging from a noose. This controversial installation and message was featured on major news channels such as NBC nightly news, CBS nightly news, and FOX news as well as many other international news stations.[175] The artist was quoted on CBS news saying "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, and some people will praise it, others will deny it and criticize it and shoot it down, but the point being is that it's getting people talking about the movement."[176]

On November 11, folk singer Joan Baez sang at the Zuccotti Park protest site. Many of the young protesters were not familiar with her songs and were unaware of her long history as an activist.[177]

Other celebrities lending their support include John Carlos,[178] Anti-Flag,[179] Radiohead,[147][180] Talib Kweli,[181] and Kanye West.[182]

Unions

On October 5 members of the National Nurses United union march to Foley Square in support of OWS

In September, various unions, including the Transport Workers Union of America Local 100 and the New York Metro 32BJ Service Employees International Union pledged their support for demonstrators.[183] Union leaders say that unions and OWS can offer mutual support, with OWS gaining from the union's money, stature, and large membership, and the weakened labor movement absorbing the protesters vitality.[184] The Industrial Workers of the World announced on September 28, 2011, that its General Executive Board (GEB), and the General Defense Committee (GDC) had issued statements of support for Occupy Wall Street.[185][186] After numerous arrests of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, police commandeered city buses to pick up detained protesters and union drivers later sued the New York Police Department. Union President John Samuelsen said, "We're down with these protesters. We support the notion that rich folk are not paying their fair share. Our bus operators are not going to be pressed into service to arrest protesters anywhere".[187] On October 4, representatives from more than 14 of the country's largest labor unions joined the protesters for a mass rally and march.[188] In early November, National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union of registered nurses in the nation, expressed support for OWS and rallied in front of the White House and Department of Treasury. Karen Higgins, co-president of NNU, said, "A real finance tax would generate $350 billion a year in the U.S. alone and bring relief to families out of homes, friends out of work, patients out of care, communities running out of time. The tax starts a revenue flow back to the 99 percent." [189]

Noting the growing union support, an article in the progressive-leaning Mother Jones magazine said that union support could splinter and derail the protests rather than sustain them because while unions are tightly organized, hierarchical, and run with a clear chain of command, Occupy Wall Street is the opposite in that they are "a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought." However, the article went on to suggest that if the unions and OWS joined together they could work to create a progressive movement that "effectively taps into the rising feeling among many Americans that economic opportunity has been squashed by corporate greed and the influence of the very rich in politics."[190] As the success of the movement has become apparent, union organizers have begun to embrace some of their social media skills, bold tactics, and the simplicity of the 99% slogan. Damon Silvers, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s policy director, said, “We think the Occupy movement has given voice to something very basic about what’s going on in our country right now. The fact that they’ve figured out certain concepts and language for doing that, we think is really important and positive.”[191] The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) has endorsed the movement saying, "We recognize the need to work together and learn from each other. The vitality, energy and dialogue growing from the Occupy Wall Street movement show the potential to organize, build power and win justice for the middle class.”[192]

Business response

John Paulson, founder of the hedge fund Paulson & Co., criticized the protesters for "vilifying our most successful businesses," citing that "The top 1% of New Yorkers pay over 40% of all income taxes, providing huge benefits to everyone in our city and state."[193] Vikram Pandit, head of Citigroup, called the protesters' sentiments "completely understandable" and said that Wall Street had broken the trust of its clients.[194] Bill Gross, manager of PIMCO's Total Return Fund, the world's largest mutual fund, stated "Class warfare by the 99%? Of course, they're fighting back after 30 years of being shot at."[195] PIMCO's co-CEO Mohamed El-Erian argued that people should "listen to Occupy Wall Street."[196] Businessman and CEO Peter Schiff wrote an opinion column where he stated, "I own a brokerage firm, but I didn't receive any bailout money... Yes, I am the 1% - but I've earned every penny."[197] The lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford proposed to the American Bankers Association a plan to respond to the Occupy movement by researching the 'backers' and doing public relations work against them like putting negative stories in the media. [198]

Karl Denninger, former CEO and one of the original co-founders of the Tea Party movement, expressed support for the movement, saying "The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protest is, for the politicians to simply wait until the people go home, and then they can ignore you. Well, Occupy Wall Street was a little different, and back in 2008, I wrote that when we will actually see change is when the people come, they set up camp, and they refuse to go home. That appears to be happening now."[199] Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric and a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, stated "It is natural to assume that people are angry, and I think we have to be empathetic and understand that people are not feeling great."[200] Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund, stated in an interview with Charlie Rose, "I think the number one problem is that we're not having a quality dialogue...I certainly understand the frustration, I understand the dilemma, I understand the discontent."[201] Other business leaders lending their support include George Soros[202] and Russell Simmons.[203]

High-income support

Several wealthy supporters have joined the protest, and have started a blog, westandwiththe99percent,[204] in which they say, "I am the 1%. I stand with the 99%," and give their stories.[205] The granddaughter of oil tycoon H. L. Hunt, Leah Hunt-Hendrix, 28, was quoted as saying “We should acknowledge our privilege and claim the responsibilities that come with it.”[205] Farhad Ebrahimi, 33, has been participating in the Occupy Boston protest wearing a T-shirt that says, "Tax me. I'm good for it."[205]

Criticism

Criticism began shortly after the inception of Occupy Wall Street.[citation needed] A group of bloggers, led by political commentator Erick Erickson, organized a website criticizing the movement entitled "We Are the 53%," referring to the 53% of Americans who earn enough income to pay federal income taxes.[206] Although the conservatives of the "53%" have felt the effects of the recession as much as the liberals of the "99%," they believe that their misfortune is their own fault, whereas the liberals see structural forces at work.[207]

Mike Brownfield of The Heritage Foundation argued that rejection of the capitalist system and the policies that OWS protesters advocate, including limits on trade and student loan forgiveness, would not lead to improved economic conditions for unemployed Americans. According to Brownfield, the Foundation believes it is "right to decry out-of-control bailouts and corporate subsidies" and there are valid concerns regarding the economy, unemployment rates and low job creation. However, Heritage argued that capitalism is key to improving the economy and that the movement is focusing on the wrong solutions to the problems they protest: it should be protesting the expansion of government instead of calling for more government intervention.[208]

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said that while Occupy Wall Street has succeeded in getting attention, it's limited because it's only attracting religious support from the left.[209] He said that a call for the government redistribution of wealth and reliance on street activism did not appeal to those with conservative political or religious leanings.[209] The protest has been criticized for tolerating anti-Semitic activists.[210] The Emergency Committee for Israel ran an ad condemning anti-Semitic remarks and calling on Barack Obama and other political officials to do likewise.[211] These allegations lead the Anti-Defamation League to call on the movement “to condemn anti-Semitic signs and comments that have appeared at some of the protest rallies across the country and around the world”[212] Other journalists have disputed allegations of anti-Semitism as not reflecting the movement as a whole.[213][214]

Complaints by local residents

Protesters dance in front of drummers at the protest

Local residents of the area surrounding Zuccotti Park have voiced various complaints about the demonstrations. A caller to a radio show complained that the park has been rendered "unusable" by the protesters, and that "a general atmosphere of incivility," together with loud shouting and drums, prevailed; another complained that the drums from the protest, which he said "start in the morning" and get louder in the evening until 11:30 pm, made it difficult for his children to sleep or do their homework. Another resident complained that protesters had been vandalizing and urinating in the vestibule to his apartment building.[133] Responding to a caller to his radio show complaining about noise and incivility at the park, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said "we couldn't agree more."[133] The Mayor has been criticized for alienating both supporters and critics for his stance that seems supportive of the protests one day and opposed on others. The Mayor has vowed to crack down on the protester's behavior as well as saying he’ll allow the protests indefinitely.[215]

Protesters and community residents clashed at a standing room only Community Board One meeting October 20. Residents complained about inadequate sanitation, verbal taunts and harassment, noise, and related issues. One resident angrily complained that the protesters "[a]re defecating on our doorsteps"; board member Tricia Joyce said, "They have to have some parameters. That doesn't mean the protests have to stop. I'm hoping we can strike a balance on parameters because this could be a long term stay."[216]    

Police

Community relations detective, Rick Lee, called "The Hipster Cop"

Police reaction has varied. Some incidents have been criticized. The New York City Police Department has assigned Rick Lee, a First Precinct community relations detective, to duty at the demonstration. He is one of the department’s main liaisons with the protesters on behalf of the police department, and advises protesters on such matters as, avoiding arrest and getting along with police as well as attempting to get information of protesters plans. As a plainclothes officer, he has been referred to as the “hipster cop’’[217] for his attire consisting of glasses, cardigan sweaters, skinny ties and skinny trousers. Reaction to his presence is mixed.[218]

Occupy Wall Street has cost the Police Department $5 million in overtime as of October 27.[219] Police statistics show competing information. Arrests and crimes have risen, while the number of summonses has fallen. How dangerous it may be for Occupy Wall Street protesters and nearby residents is difficult to assess due to an informal divide that has sprung up between who patrols inside and outside the park. While NYC police are stationed around the periphery, police seem to have ceded patrol of the interior to protesters.[220]

Crime

On October 11, it was reported that OWS protesters staying in Zuccotti Park were dealing with a worsening security problem with reports of multiple incidents of assault, drug dealing and use, and sexual assault.[221] A Crown Heights man was charged with sexually assaulting a protester at the park raising the level of public discussion of lawlessness at the demonstrations. Protesters use de-escalation techniques, talking down or blocking with their bodies those people throwing punches. In more tense situations, protesters encircle troublemakers and usher them out. But many times, those kicked out or arrested return.[222] Protester sanitation teams have reported finding needles in tents, and reports of crack and crystal meth use have surfaced. But most protesters say that the most serious concern is the risk of assault, especially for women and at night. Demonstrators have complained of thefts of assorted items such as cell phones and laptops. Thieves also stole $2500 of donations that were stored in a makeshift kitchen.[223] On October 10, a "methadone-addled man freeloading off the Wall Street protest" was arrested for groping a woman.[221] On Nov 10, 2011, A man was arrested at OWS for breaking an EMT's leg.[224]

Police Commissioner Paul Browne complained that protesters delay reporting crime. He stated that it's OWS protocol not to report such incidents to the police until there were three complaints against the same individual.”[225] The protesters deny a "three strikes policy", and one protester told the New York Daily News that he had heard police respond to a complaint by saying, "You need to deal with that yourselves". [226]

On November 16, 2011, police arrested Nkrumah Tinsley, 29, and charged him with with making a terroristic threat, after police saw a video of him saying, “On the 17th, we going to burn New York City to the fucking ground,” and "In a few days they’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do to Macy’s." He had been previously arrested for assaulting a police officer during another protest on October 26.[227][228][229] Defense lawyer Pierre Sussman said that Tinsley had been exercising his right to free speech, and that he was not really going to do the things he said.[230] When police carried out a search warrant of Tinsley's home, they did not find any bomb making materials.[231]

Sexual Assaults

Occupy Wall Street protesters had made enough allegations of sexual assault and gropings that women-only tents needed to be set-up.[232] David Park was arrested for a sexual assault that occured in Zuccotti Park on October 8. At the time of the incident, Park had numerous warrants for his arrests. Tonye Iketubosin who worked as a kitchen helper was charged with of an October 24 sexual assault of an 18 year-old fellow protester. Prosecutors believe he is responsible for a another 18 year old woman.[233][234][235] Occupy Wall Street organizers released a statement regarding the sexual assaults stating, "As individuals and as a community, we have the responsibility and the opportunity to create an alternative to this culture of violence, We are working for an OWS and a world in which survivors are respected and supported unconditionally… We are redoubling our efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence. This includes taking preventative measures such as encouraging healthy relationship dynamics and consent practices that can help to limit harm.” A police union leader stated, “We have no way of really knowing. If you have three or five crimes reported, you really don’t know if it’s eight or 10 that happened.”[236]

Deaths

At least four people have died participating in the Occupy protests. A 53-year-old man was found dead in his tent at Occupy New Orleans on November 8. The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office found "no obvious signs of trauma to the body".[237] On November 10, a man was shot to death at the Occupy Oakland camp,[238] and a military veteran at the Burlington, Vermont Occupy camp committed suicide in his tent by shooting himself.[238] On November 11, a man was found dead in his tent at the Occupy Salt Lake City camp from a combination of drug use and carbon monoxide from a propane heater.[238]

International response

  • Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said, "We agree with some of the expressions that some movements have used around the world [in] demonstrations like the ones we see in the US and other countries."[239]
  • Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that because there was nothing like a Canadian TARP program, he did not think Canadians were as angry as Americans.[240] Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed sympathy with the protests, citing high unemployment amongst the youth. Comparing Canada to the U.S., he said that unlike the U.S., Canada has a progressive income tax system that favors the vulnerable, and the government has regulated and supervised its financial institutions.[241]
  • People's Republic of China state news agency Xinhua said the protests had exposed "fundamental problems" with the US economic and political systems, and that it showed "a clear need for Washington, which habitually rushes to demand other governments to change when there are popular protests in their countries, to put its own house in order."[242]
  • Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou supported the U.S. protests saying, "We fight for changing the global economic system, like many anti-Wall Street citizens who rightly protest against the inequalities and injustices of the system."[243]
  • Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated, "There are reasons why people are protesting. People are protesting in Wall Street, in Europe about the fat salaries that the bankers are getting when people are being asked to tighten their belts. There is problem of growing unemployment in the United States. There is also worry in Europe. So there are problems which the system must have credible answers to take them on board."[244]
  • The Korean Central News Agency of North Korea commented that the Occupy Wall Street movement were "in protest against exploitation and oppression by capital, shaking all fabrics of society."[245][246]
  • Former president of Poland and cofounder of the Polish Solidarity Movement, Lech Wałęsa, has expressed his support for Occupy Wall Street and is considering a visit to the site.[247]
  • Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev compared it to the perestroika period and the collapse of the Soviet Union superpower, calling the protests justified. He said Americans should put their own house in order before attempting to do such with other countries.[248]
  • Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the protests were about fairness. "There are voices in the middle who say, ‘Look, we can build a better financial system that is more sustainable, that is based on a better and proportionate sense of what’s just and fair and where people don’t take reckless risks or, if they do, they’re penalized for doing so.’"[249]
  • Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair criticized the movement, stating, “a protest is not the same as a policy. Someone who’s demonstrating will often make demands, but they don’t necessarily have answers.”[250]
  • Vatican City Cardinal Peter Turkson, a senior Vatican official, defended the protests: "Do people at a certain time have a right to say: 'Do business differently, look at the way you are doing business because this is not leading to our welfare, to our good'? Can people demand this of the people of Wall Street? I think people can and should be able to."[251] The comment was in light of a new publication the Vatican released entitled Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority, which agreed with many of the protesters' issues.[252][253]
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez condemned the "horrible repression" of the Occupy Wall Street activists and expressed solidarity with the movement.[254]

Media

A protester's sign references the alleged lack of news coverage by mass media as a 'media blackout.' [255][256][257]

Five days into the protest, Keith Olbermann criticized the initial media response for failing to adequately cover the protests.[258][259] The protests began on Saturday, September 17. The following Wednesday, The New York Observer reported on the nascent protests in Zuccotti Park.[260][258] On Friday, September 23, Ginia Bellafante panned the movement in The New York Times.[261] Joanna Weiss of The Boston Globe found it difficult to take the protests seriously, criticizing Occupy Wall Street for its "circus" atmosphere."[262] In a September 27 article, Lauren Ellis of Mother Jones magazine criticized the movement's lack of a clear message.[263]

By October 4, economist Richard Wolff commented that the unclear shape of the movement is "mostly irrelevant" at this early stage and the priority should be to invite all interested parties.[264] Kalle Lasn, co-founder of Adbusters, believed that the protests had gone mainstream and expressed the opinion that "it's become kind of a political left movement in the U.S., hopefully to rival the Tea Party."[265] Michael Daly, of Newsweek and The Daily Beast characterized the position of the protesters as a "feeling that there is just a fundamental unfairness. From their point of view, the very people who almost wrecked the U.S. economy on Wall Street continue to get wealthy while working people are struggling to pay their bills."[266] On October 11, Katrina vanden Heuvel, who writes a weekly column for The Post and is the editor and publisher of The Nation, said "most understand that the main task ahead is growing the movement," and pointing to recent legislation, she suggests that the movement has already influenced public dialogue.[267] From October 17-21 Cenk Uygur of the internet news show The Young Turks filmed the political segment of the show in Zuccotti Park.[citation needed]

MSNBC's Technolog noted that policymakers had failed to address economic problems, and news media had failed to cover the unemployment crisis: "Tracking CNN, MSNBC and Fox, ThinkProgress found 7,583 mentions of the word 'debt,' compared to 427 mentions of 'unemployment' on all three networks combined." NM Incite said 22% of tweets using the #OccupyWallStreet hashtag voiced general support for the movement, 11% indicated participation in it, 5% described celebrity support, 11% were complaints against the movement, 13% shared news, 6% shared videos, 4% blamed government, 2% blamed President Obama, and 1% blamed capitalism.

 

Music videos

On October 26, 2011, the first video setting footage of Occupy Wall Street to the song Love, That's America by Melvin Van Peebles was uploaded to YouTube.[268] In an interview with Van Peebles several weeks later, he discussed the song going viral.[269]. A second music video 'We are the many' was released by Makana on YouTube.

Parodies

A CNBC correspondent Jane Wells reported that Occupy Wall Street movement sparked parodies which aim to expand the movement to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. An image of Luke Skywalker holding a protest sign was published: "It wasn't glamorous but I had a steady living working on my uncle's moisture farm... my aunt and uncle were unjustly murdered and the farm destroyed. I was forced to leave my home and join an extinct cult just to survive. I am now a member of an upstart movement to take down a greedy corrupt establishment. I AM THE 99%." Skywalker's enemies, the Imperial Storm Troopers, joined the protest on another image circulating on the Internet holding signs: "End Galactic Corporate Greed", "Get Our Troops Off Tatooine" and "Keep Your Empirical Hands Off My Healthcare".[270] Parodies relating to Middle Earth include a woman which had written her complaint in Elvish, allegedly translated: "I spend every waking hour fighting orcs while Elrond and Galadriel eat lembas bread all day. I am the 99%".[271] Guy Fawkes masks from the film V for Vendetta are used as symbols against corporate greed.[272]

Other parodies have been made, including Occupy Narnia[271] and Occupy Sesame Street.[273] Occupy Sesame Street went viral and, following violent encounters between NYPD and the protesters, Tumblr posted pictures of, among other things, Elmo getting arrested, Grover getting restrained, and Count von Count getting pepper-sprayed.[274] Occupy Wall Street and its related protests were heavily satirized in the South Park episode "1%", which aired on November 2, 2011.[275][276] Remy Munasifi wrote and sang a song, in the style of Bob Dylan, called "Occupy Wall Street Protest Song," which criticized the protestors for not understanding, in his opinion, how well off they are. For example, it included the lyrics "George Washington was the richest man of his age. But he lost all his teeth at a very young age. Because they didn't have Scope and they all crapped in trays. We're not wealthy?" According to AFP, the song went viral in early October.[277][278]

Chronology

First four weeks (September 17 – October 14)

On September 17, 1,000 protesters marched through the streets, with an estimated 100 to 200 staying overnight in cardboard boxes. By September 19, seven people had been arrested.[279][280]

At least 80 arrests were made on September 24,[281] after protesters started marching uptown and forcing the closure of several streets.[282][283] Most of the 80 arrests were for blocking traffic, though some were also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police officers have also been using a technique called kettling which involves using orange nets to isolate protesters into smaller groups.[282][283]

Videos which showed several penned-in female demonstrators being hit with pepper spray by a police official were widely disseminated, sparking controversy.[284] That police official, later identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, was shown in other videos hitting a photographer with a burst of spray.[285]

Protesters rallying near New York police headquarters, St. Andrew's Church in the background.

Initially Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and a representative for Bologna defended his actions, while decrying the disclosure of his personal information.[284][285] After growing public furor, Kelly announced that Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board were opening investigations,[284] again criticizing Anonymous for "[trying] to intimidate, putting the names of children, where children go to school," and adding that this tactic was "totally inappropriate, despicable."[284] Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. started his own inquiry.[285]

Public attention to the pepper-sprayings resulted in a spike of news media coverage, a pattern that was to be repeated in the coming weeks following confrontations with police.[286] Clyde Haberman, writing in The New York Times, said that "If the Occupy Wall Street protesters ever choose to recognize a person who gave their cause its biggest boost, they may want to pay tribute to Anthony Bologna," calling the event "vital" for the still nascent movement.[287][288] "After Ron Kuby, an attorney for one of the protesters, demanded Mr. Bologna’s arrest, [Bologna] was instead docked 10 vacation days and given a [...] reassignment to Staten Island, where he lives," according to an account by blogger Daniel Edward Rosen.[289]

On October 1, 2011, protesters set out to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Times reported that more than 700 arrests were made.[290] The police used ten buses to carry protesters off the bridge. Some said the police had tricked protesters, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across. Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street said, “The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway.”[291] However, some statements by protesters supported descriptions of the event given by police: for example, one protester Tweeted that "The police didn't lead us on to the bridge. They were backing the [expletive] up."[292] A spokesman for the New York Police Department, Paul Browne, said that protesters were given multiple warnings to stay on the sidewalk and not block the street, and were arrested when they refused.[2] By October 2, all but 20 of the arrestees had been released with citations for disorderly conduct and a criminal court summons.[293] On October 4, a group of protesters who were arrested on the bridge filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that officers had violated their constitutional rights by luring them into a trap and then arresting them; Mayor Bloomberg, commenting previously on the incident, had said that "[t]he police did exactly what they were supposed to do."[294]

On October 5, joined by union members, students, and the unemployed, the demonstration swelled to the largest yet with an estimated 15,000 marchers joining the protest. Smaller protests continue in cities and on college campuses across the country.[295]

Thousands of union workers joined protesters marching through the Financial District. The march was mostly peaceful—until after nightfall, when scuffles erupted. About 200 protesters tried to storm barricades blocking them from Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. Police responded with pepper spray and penned the protesters in with orange netting.[296]

Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, British protesters organized an occupation of the London Stock Exchange to bring attention to what they saw as unethical behavior on the part of banks. One of the organizers of the protest said the protests are focused against "increasing social and economic injustice in this country." In his opinion, "the Government has made sure to maintain the status quo and let the people who caused this crisis get off scot-free, whilst conversely ensuring that the people of this country pay the price, in particular those most vulnerable."[297][298][299][300][301][302]

Weeks 5–8 (October 15 – November 11)

Occupy Toronto was inspired by Occupy Wall Street.

On October 15, tens of thousands of demonstrators staged rallies in 900 cities around the world, including Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, São Paulo, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, and many other cities.[303] In Frankfurt, 5,000 people protested at the European Central Bank and in Zurich, Switzerland's financial hub, protesters carried banners reading "We won't bail you out yet again" and "We are the 99 percent." Protests were largely peaceful, however a protest in Rome that drew thousands turned violent when "a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe" caused extensive damage.[304] Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered in Times Square in New York City and rallied for several hours.[305][306] Several hundred protesters were arrested across the U.S., mostly for refusing to obey police orders to leave public areas. In Chicago there were 175 arrests, about 100 arrests in Arizona (53 in Tucson, 46 in Phoenix), and more than 70 in New York City, including at least 40 in Times Square.[307] Multiple arrests were reported in Chicago, and about 150 people camped out by city hall in Minneapolis.[308]

In the early morning hours of October 25, police cleared and closed an Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Park in Oakland, California.[309][310] The raid on the encampment was described as "violent and chaotic at times," and resulted in over 102 arrests and several injuries to protesters. The city of Oakland contracted the use of over 12 other regional police departments to aid in the clearing of the encampment. An Iraqi war veteran, Scott Olson, was allegedly hit in the head with a teargas canister and suffered a skull fracture. His condition was later upgraded from critical to fair.[311] The next night, approximately 1,000 protesters reconvened in the plaza and held marches late into the night.[312]

On November 2, protesters in Oakland, California shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest port in the nation. Police estimated that about 3,000 demonstrators were gathered at the port and 4,500 had marched across the city; a spokesman for the protest movement, who gave only his first name, told the BBC that he had heard people say that there were as many as 20,000 or 30,000 demonstrators, but added, "It's impossible to tell."[313]

Weeks 9 & 10 (November 12 - November 26)

After midnight on November 15, police delivered notices that protesters had to temporarily vacate the park to allow cleaning/sanitation crews access.[314] According to the police notice, protesters would have been allowed back in after the cleaning, but without tents, tarps, or sleeping bags. Police moved in around 1:00 AM on November 15 and arrested about 200 people, some of whom attempted to stop the entry of cleaning crews. Among those arrested were journalists representing the Agence France-Presse,[315] Associated Press,[316] Daily News,[317] DNAInfo,[318] NPR,[319] Television New Zealand,[320] New York Times,[321] and Vanity Fair,[322] as well as New York City Council member Ydanis Rodríguez.[323] An NBC reporter's press pass was also confiscated.[324]

While the police cleared the park, credentialed members of the media were kept a block away, preventing them from documenting the event.[325][326] Police helicopters prevented NBC and CBS news helicopters from filming the clearing of the park.[327] Many journalists complained of being treated roughly or violently by the police.[328][329][330][331] The Society of Professional Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the New York Civil Liberties Union expressed concerns and criticisms regarding the situation.[332][333][334][318] The OAS Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression issued a statement saying that the "disproportionate restrictions on access to the scene of the events, the arrests, and the criminal charges resulting from the performance of professional duties by reporters violate the right to freedom of expression."[335]

On November 21, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the Associated Press, Dow Jones, and NBC Universal and WNBC-TV joined in a letter written by New York Times General Council George Freeman criticizing the New York Police Department's handling of the media during the raid.

" . . . the police actions of the last week have been more hostile to the press than any other event in recent memory."

The letter enumerated numerous cases of arrest, injury and obstruction of the media.[336]

Half an hour into the police raid, the Occupy Wall Street Media Team put out an official statement under the heading, "You can't evict an idea whose time has come." It went on to say, "Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces — our spaces — and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas."[96]

The tents and personal effects of the protesters, and the five thousand books of The People's Library[337] were put in dump trucks by the police and removed.[338] After the removal, New York City officials ordered police to keep the entire park closed and to prevent any protesters from returning, pending the outcome of a court hearing on whether and in what circumstances the protesters could return; a judge issued a temporary restraining order that protesters could return to the park with their tents, which Washington Post opinion writer James Downie accused Mayor Bloomberg of ignoring.[339][340] A judge in the late afternoon ruled that the temporary order should not be extended, saying that the First Amendment did not give protesters the right to fill the park with "tents, structures, generators, and other installations to the exclusion of the owner's reasonable rights and duties to maintain Zuccotti Park."[95][341]

On November 17, journalists representing the Indypendent Reader, IMC and In These Times were arrested.[342][343] Two reporters for the Daily Caller and a reporter for RT were reportedly assaulted with police batons.[343][344]

See also

Occupy articles

Other U.S. protests

International

Related articles

References

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