Democracy is a system where the opinions of the majority of the people are supposed to be heard and acted upon. The government should make sure that the public interests are protected. People have the power to choose their own government in a democracy. It is necessary for people, who are running for government offices, that they get more people to like them, support them and donate them. In 2010, the members of five judges in Supreme Court of USA ruled that corporations can spend as much money as they want to support any political party. This rule changes the way democracy works. It means corporations can influence elections for their own benefits, completely neglecting the public interest.
Asbuster is a foundation based in Canada and it is best known for an advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine they publish. Adbusters Foundations posted a proposal on their blog on July 13, 2011, in which, they 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.
According to Micah White, senior editor of Adjusters’, they suggested protest via their email list and (it) “was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world”. “one simple demand—a presidential commission to separate money from politics” would “start setting the agenda for a new America.” says Adbusters’ in their website, where they also promoted the protest with a poster featuring a dancer atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull.
Adbuster’s proposal was supported by internet group called “Anonymous”. “Flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street.” was the message from Anonymous to motivate their supports to join the protest. Following Anonymous, 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.
This protest was held at Zuccotti Park because it was a private property so police could not legally force them to vacant the park without the owner’s request and / or complain to do so. However, the same day New York City mayor Michel Bloomberg said “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” in a press conference.
The idea of occupying Wall Street is influenced by the Tahrir Square protest and Spanish protest, both happened in 2011. Initial weeks of Wall Street where showing trends that mainstream media either didn’t understand or just ignored.
- The main focus of the protest had not been demands of any form. When people started showing up for Occupy Wall-Street, they weren’t typical white collegiate activist that, one is normally bound to assume given the stereotype of protesters. Although these collegiate students’ groups are in abundance in the protest, and one reason for that could be flexible schedule; this protest witnessed people flying from all over the country. The demographic group of people in their late 20s was a major part of total protesters during the evening (after working) hours.
The direct effect of increased people in the protest resulted in a sense of feeling that this was a real moment and it could be used to improve the country. Now, with increasing people, the power of the protest increased and it seemed feasible that this protest might be able to achieve something. There comes the part where people think, Occupy Wall-Street protest is the mess, scattered or it doesn’t know what the demands are. One of the reasons behind this perception among people was that the protesters were afraid if they gave out a list of any specific demand, the media would label them as a specific demand party, which could then be subsequently ignored.
Since, occupy wall street didn’t make any demands yet, normal people walking down the street, tourist and people from around the country were coming to the protests with their problems and seeking the advice on creating a similar model of protest for their own town / city. Thus started the training (by Occupy Wall Street protesters) – on how to hold forums in Direct Democracy. It’s harder than it sounds, but right now, people can go to Wall Street, and voice any concern, and everyone will listen to them, vote on the point, and it won’t detract from the conversation. Protesters taught them how to do this in their hometown. People realized that to be silent is far more dangerous than they imagined, in democracy.
- The NYC General Assembly (GA) is composed of dozens of groups working together to organize and set the vision for the Occupy Wall-Street movement. With the passing time, GA slowly realized that if they didn’t demand any goals, people will stop flying in to join, and that would harm the protest either by stagnancy or by misrepresentation.
However, there are differences in opinions.
- Some groups in GA believed that if they demanded too few goals, people would feel excluded, and would think GA doesn’t want to hear their opinion or GA isn’t the group for them. On the contrary, GA was more interested in getting people voicing their opinions.
- Some in the GA believed if they made too many demands, they would be seen as unfocused, without cause and would be ignored.
- Some in the GA believed in a need to make statements about Wall Street just to not be seen as “off target”.
- Some groups in GA believed that making a statement just about Wall Street might alienate some of the Wall Street people, who might otherwise sympathize with the protest. The reason behind this belief came from the fact that there were some bankers who were sending their friends to declare support, since being bankers, they can’t support Occupy Wall-Street movement directly.
- There is also an opinion in GA that making demands might actually undermine the power and beauty of the protest.
- These varied opinions show true democracy which is ignored by media.
- Many of the protesters have never been into such kind of movement before. They lack the knowledge of political protesting, making demands, fighting for their rights. Growing people might lead to more systematic approach as it would create awareness among the people who know what to do and how to do but just aren’t interested in doing.
These movements that started in New York City and San Francisco on the same day on September 17, 2011, were called as “Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy San Francisco” . By October 9 these movements were spread across over 95 cities in 82 countries and over 600 communities in the USA. As of today, there are 2609 towns and cities worldwide that are going through the same movements.
* This article was written to explain Occupy Wall- Street movement to a friend. It’s not a well-written article and should not be used as such. Please do your research and find more credible sources for your knowledge. This article just tries to simplify the events for a quick read.
November 23, 2011