Wall Street Protests
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Occupy Wall Street began as campaign by the radical Canadian magazine, Adbusters. The expressed intent was to highlight disparities in wealth distribution through public demonstration. The protests began in earnest on September 17, 2011 when a 100 people or so convened in Zuccotti park near New York City's financial district. The protesters claimed solidarity with the so-called Arab Spring movements in Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Syria and elsewhere. As such, the movement envisioned itself as a global movement against corporate influence in government. Recently, these sentiments have caught on domestically and internationally (with massive protests in Mexico and Europe).
Protestor rhetoric includes the phrase that 99% of the world's wealth is held by the richest 1% of the population. Protestor identify themselves as the 99% with only 1% of the wealth. On October 1 over 700 protestors were arrested as police maneuvered them onto the Brooklyn Bridge, cut off the exits and then demanded they leave. Increasingly, the press has spotlighted police overreaction to what has been a peaceful movement. Unions joined in the movement on October 5th, and by October 14th, the Democratic National Committee sent a memo to its leaders to stand behind the protestors. However, Republican response has been hostile:
- Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, called the protestors a "mob"
- Herman Cain, derided them as "anti-capitalists"
- Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, has promised that Washington has new legislation ready for Wall Street reform
- Former President Obama has empathized with the "frustration" felt by the protestors