The Occupation Begins

The Occupy W­­all Street movement took form in response to the economic crisis that began in 2008. People began to take the streets on September 17, 2011 in a private park on Wall Street called Zucotti Park. The movement chose this park because of its location on Wall Street in the heart of the country’s financial sector. The movement was protesting corporations’ role in the government, economic and social disparities, corruption, and the uneven distribution of wealth. Occupy Wall Street oriented their goals toward the most wealthy one percent of individuals and corporations in the United States, coining the phrase “We are the 99 percent.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement began to spread across the country and the world. The various movements had differing priorities according to the local problems faced in each city. The movement as a whole does not have a clear set of universal goals. The general theme of the goals that are set forth by each occupy movement are income distribution, bank reform, reduced corporate influence in politics, forgiveness of student loans, more jobs, and better jobs. Without clear goals it has made it difficult for the movement to make specific demands for change, yet it has given them the ability to remain a fluid and surviving movement. The movement has no clear leadership structure, making it difficult for them to interact with government officials. The state and national legislative bodies have no specific demands or individuals to negotiate and discuss concerns.

The movement has experienced difficulty in maintaining protesters in the face of conflict with the police and city governments. City governments have caused many problems for the protestors regarding the right to protest and where the movement can protest. The police have also caused problems for the movement by arresting many protestors and keeping them tied up in court.

The media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement gave the movement legitimacy and dramatically boosted its popularity. U.C. Davis student protesters were pepper sprayed by campus police, prompting public outrage across the country. Photos of police cutting protesters out of tents in Charlotte, North Carolina also garnered national media attention. There were dozens of stories like this all across the country, which hyped by the media gave the Occupy Wall Street movement life.

The main protest began and remains in New York City. With the movement being forced from the Zucotti Park, protesters are now sleeping on the sidewalks in front of banks. The Occupy Wall Street movement is citing a ruling by Federal Judge Kimba Wood in 2000 that states as long as they do not take up more then half of the side walk that it is not disorderly conduct, making their sleeping outside in public protest within their rights.

On May 1, 2012, the Occupy Wall Street movement picked up momentum when protesters took to the streets for International Labor Day. Thousands of people marched all over New York City as a part of the Occupy Movement. Many of the protesters were members of labor unions and immigrant right’s groups that have teamed up with the movement.

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