The Truth About Occupy Wall Street Protests – What Do They Stand For? – Who Is Behind It?
What is the Occupy Wall Street Protest all about? Who is behind it? What do they stand for?
The answers to those questions are hard to find. Listening to people interpret this protest is like listening to people try and interpret a work of abstract art. Some see a group of people upset about corporations. Others see it as people fighting for unions. Yet some think it’s about the corruption of special interest groups and their influence in government.
Let’s go to the horse’s mouth and see what they’re demanding. I’ll give some commentary and analysis at the end of my entry.
Their website lists this as their main gripe.
Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
So they basically claim to be a diverse group of citizens representing 99% of America against the 1% they view as greedy and corrupt. I’ll offer some commentary shortly. Let’s stick to listening to them for now.
Their Facebook page gives a detailed list of grievances.
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
THIS DOCUMENT WAS ACCEPTED BY THE NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2011
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.
To sum this up, they are a group of people claiming to represent 99% of the people who are sick of the greed and corruption coming from 1% of the population. Corporations are the 1% they’re blaming their problems on.
Another way to understand a movement is to look at the people and groups involved. Here is a list of union organizations involved in a October 5th union march and protest.
- AFL-CIO (AFSCME)
- United NY
- Strong Economy for All Coalition
- Working Families Party
- TWU Local 100
- SEIU 1199
- CWA 1109
- Communications Workers of America
- CWA Local 1180
- United Auto Workers
- United Federation of Teachers
- Professional Staff Congress – CUNY
- National Nurses United
- Writers Guild East
- Community Voices Heard
- Alliance for Quality Education
- New York Communities for Change
- Coalition for the Homeless
- Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP)
- The Job Party
- NYC Coalition for Educational Justice
- The Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center
- The New Deal for New York Campaign
- National People’s Action
- Human Services Council
- Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State
- Citizen Action of NY
- Common Cause NY
- New Bottom Line
- Tenants & Neighbors
- Democracy for NYC
- Resource Generation
- Tenants PAC
- Teachers Unite
I’ll now offer some commentary and analysis. First, I think they are overshooting their representation and influence. It’s impossible to say they represent 99% of our citizens. America has many diverse opinions. We see the factions that form in our political parties. There is no way they can truly say they represent 99% of Americans. Second of all, blaming all our problems on “the 1%” seems like lazy minded scapegoating. Third, the influence of unions is going to make this movement look like a tea party movement from the liberal\progressive camp. Fourth, this movement can be perceived as people blaming all their problems on corporations.
When protesters are interviewed they’ll give you a laundry list of their problems. They’ll talk about health care, unemployment, student loans, their sick mother and on and on it will go. Some may perceive them as people wanting to blame their every day problems on someone else.
Regardless of the imperfections in this movement, I think there is a core of discontent they represent in this country. I think people regardless of political persuasion are upset with government and corporate corruption. I think this movement can go places if they focus on fighting corporate and government corruption. This movement will go nowhere if they just sit there and blame their everyday problems on someone else. They will fail if they’re perceived as demanding a government handout.