By Liane Apple
The occupation of Wall Street was just beginning as Slingshot went to press — it is hard to say how it might evolve by the time you read this. Inspired by “Arab Spring” and the Egyptians who rocked Tahrir Square with mutual aid and a vision for their country, the occupation is leaderless, inclusive, participatory, and has avoided single-issue reformist demands. The occupation exists to expose a litany of issues: corporate personhood, bank bailouts, budget cuts, the misappropriation of wealth by the rich and the global control of the financial market from Wall Street itself. The financial district in New York directly controls the world money system, and incidentally the poverty of the whole planet. People at Occupy Wall Street are facing the bull.
After Adbusters magazine proposed the idea, the loose-knit internet group Anonymous helped organize the occupation with meetings this summer prior to the kickoff of the occupation to organize food distribution, media outreach, legal and street medic support. All of those logistics have also happened spontaneously by individual people power. Since the first day of the protest, people have steadily come onto the streets to join daily marches, to sleep in the park, to play music, to take their pants off, and to otherwise reclaim their voice from the oppression of the ruling class.
Signs are like a carpet on the sidewalk for people passing by to see. ‘People before profit,’ ‘End corporate personhood,’ ‘Banks got bailed out – we got sold out’ are some of the slogans that ring from the park and from the vibrant group of people who occupy it. Marches happen everyday from the park to the New York Stock exchange, with drums banging, people chanting and holding signs, disrupting business as usual.
Corporate media has covered the occupation, but considers it a failed attempt to shut down Wall Street. In reality it is just beginning and the movement is growing. As Slingshot goes to press, protestors have been camped out for over a week at Liberty Plaza Park in the financial district of New York. There have been related financial district occupations in San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Canada, England, Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany, Australia, Israel, and Japan, some of which are still ongoing as Slingshot goes to press.
Police still surround the areas in New York where there are protesters and dozens have been arrested and brutalized, not without scrutiny from copwatchers and lawyers from the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild. It is a point of discussion amongst the group to continue to resist police repression of the event and to maintain voice and power.
Everyday the park occupiers hold a General Assembly, which is facilitated as a consensus meeting. At the assembly people talk about the park autonomous zone, and hear announcements from working groups, such as direct action, food, and media outreach. The general assembly provides space for anyone to have a voice and it also inspires creativity and communication amongst the group.
Participation of steady numbers of concerned people is crucial of the Occupy Wall Street movement and toward life less controlled by world markets and businessmen. Each one of us represents our own voice but together our voices ripple outward louder.