What are We Occupying?

Photo by Luciana Rodrigues '12/STAMPEDE

Occupy Movement has had a great impact on the country and many people are wondering what it is and how it might affect them

Amanda Wilson ‘13 | Editor

Signs, rallying, chants, and people protesting is not a new thing hat you see in Washington DC. But the tents and the hundreds of people camped outside of the capital is not something that you see on a typical day in Washington D.C.

The Occupy Movement has spread from Wall Street in New York to Washington, D.C. as well as many other places, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Atlanta are just a few. “The cool thing about OWS [Occupy Wall Street] is that no one person speaks for the group – everyone has diverse political viewpoints and different opinions but is happy to work together to try to bring about a more fair society,” said Stephanie from OWS, who I interviewed online. Stephanie is 27 and lives in Brooklyn. She works full time as a writer and editor. She is Italian and German-Jewish, she is agnostic, but was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school.

If you travel down to the nation’s capital, you will see many things. Among those things, you will see hundreds of tents and hundreds of people. Everyone down there has a license to be there and has permission to be there and protest. The only thing there that does not have a license is the food tent.

There are a handful of people that know what this protest is about and are interested in it. “When it first started, I was interested in it and wanted to know what it was about. I was interested in what they were trying to do. Whether you agree or not, their spirit seemed very alive,” said Social Studies teacher, Ms. Laura Keller.

But on the other hand, many people that live in or around the areas of this giant protest do not have any idea what this movement is and how or if might it affect them and their families. Well, this movement is huge and it most likely would affect these people in more ways than one if they knew what it was. On the Occupy Wall Street website, it states that, “Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one things that 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, [which is a series of protests and other demonstrations], to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.”

So what exactly does this mean? The 1% that they are talking about is the 1% of Americans that are upper class and have it very easy. They have more benefits than the other 99% of Americans. That 1% has the money and pretty much everything that the middle and lower classes need to survive. According to Professor G. William Domhoff’s book, “Who Rules America,” “As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the values of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.” In other words, most of the wealth in this country goes to the richer 1% of the population, rather than the people who really need it. This is the reason behind the whole Occupy Movement.

The Occupy Movement is committed to being a non-violent protesting. They are using the Arab Spring tactic which is a series of protests that involves demonstrations. “We’re committed to nonviolent protesting. We want to call attention to economic injustice in this country, and we feel that a commitment to nonviolence is constructive. While the camp in Zuccotti Park was raided by the police and no longer exists, we strove to create a model of the kind of society that we’d like to live in. We set up infrastructure to provide shelter, food, and medical help to anyone in need. We want to show a positive example of how we envision a more just society,” said Stephanie.

Occupy has spread very rapidly and is in many cities and states in the U.S. including New York; Orlando; Philadelphia; Lakeland, Florida; Milwaukee; Miami; Atlanta; Fayetville, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Seattle; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Kansas City, Missouri; Ashville, North Carolina; and Frankfort, West Virginia, as well as in the states of Alaska and Arkansas. This movement is not only in the United States, but in other countries around the world, including Canada, Spain, England, Italy, Taiwan, and South Korea.

This protest was meant as a peaceful protest, but others are seeing it as a riot and the people that are involved are being a public nuisance. Police forces have been brought in and as of now, many people have been injured or even killed from those police forces opening fire on them. One of the major occurrences that happened just a little while ago was the shooting in Oakland, which occurred on Thursday, November 10th, shortly before 5:00 p.m. The man that was shot was named Kayode Ola Foster, who was 25 years old. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Police have issued three eviction orders to campers since Friday, asserting that they are violating law banning open fires, overnight camping in public parks, and the use of propane, among other activities. Another incident, shown in a YouTube video, went up showing a former marine, Sergeant Shamar Thomas, criticizing the NYPD for how they were acting around the protesters and the way that they were handling them.

There have been other incidents where police force has had to be used. Recently, police had to clear Occupy protesters from a park in New York, because the park was dirty. Also, the owner of the park, which is privately owned, did not want sleeping bags and tents in the park. The park was cleared at 1 a.m., making protesters very angry and unhappy.

No one knows where this movement will end and what impact it will have in the near or distant future. It has already made a big impact and who know whether or not anything will come from this, but people do hope that it will. U.S. History teacher, Ms. Laura Keller, said, “I hope it would somehow bring about questions, bring back discussion. I’m hoping there’s more dialogue because we’re in a serious financial crisis. We’re in a rut.” Only time will tell what this movement will change.

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