A protest against socio-economic inequality, Occupy Wall Street began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square (aka Zuccotti Park), located in Manhattan's Financial District. With the call to protest initiated by Kalle Lasn and Micah White of the Canadian anti-consumer, pro-environment magazine, Adbusters, came the slogan, "We are the 99 percent". There was public outcry by American citizens, angry at banks and large corporations seen to greedily monopolize wealth -- effectively creating a society controlled by the one percent. From the best schools and jobs, to the highest posts in government, the average person (not to mention the poor), felt disadvantaged, left out, and without a voice.
The demonstration lasted about two months, through an Indian summer and into the cooler weather, with activists setting up tents and camping out in a litter of sleeping bags. What began as a a "People's Library" -- a simple cardboard box containing a pile of books -- grew into a large, circulating collection of some 5,500 monographs, pamphlets, and other resources. The collection, representing a broad range of religious and political beliefs, was cataloged by Library Thing, a social cataloguing web application for storing and sharing records and meta data.
While it started out as peaceful resistance, Occupy Wall Street led to government surveillance, riots, abuse, and the arrest of about 80 persons -- many of whom were dismissed with cases proven to be arbitrary or baseless.
What lessons we have learned from this important grassroots movement that spread (in smaller degrees) to as many as 100 cities across the United States? Although some maintain that no concrete results were achieved (that the movement was just an idea with no real strategy), others assert that OWS forced a major national conversation and led us to rethink policies and practices -- such as increase in minimum wage; review of student debt; and steps toward climate change. Looking back on the past three years and with the 2020 presidential election looming, we continue to question and assess.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Preston, J. (2011, Oct 17). Occupy Wall Street, and Its Global Chat. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Street, W. (2011, Oct 28). Rage Against The Machine: The Occupy Wall Street Protests In Manhattan Have Focused Attention On The Irresponsibilty Of The Big Financial Firms But The Campaingers Should Advocate Practical Reforms If They Are To Succeed. The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Arthurs, E. (2011, Nov 13). Who Is Occupy Wall Street? New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Face-Off: Occupy Wall Street Protesters Clash With Police In New York. (2011, Nov 18). The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Carr, D. (2011, Nov 21). A Movement, A Question: What Now? New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Feuer, A. (2012, Jul 15). And Now, 'Occupy,' The Camp. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Moynihan, C. (2012, Sep 14). Fingers Pointed Over Seizure Of Occupy Wall St. Library. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Klotz, F. (2012, Sep 15). What's Happened To The Occupiers? The Irish Times (1921-Current File)
- Hughes, C. J. (2012, Sep 21). In Midtown, Taking Aim At Occupy Wall Street and Obama. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Blow, C. M. (2013, Sep 14). Occupy Wall Street Legacy. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- McKinley, J. C., J. (2014, Apr 10). Last Criminal Trial Related To Occupy Wall Street Protests At Zuccotti Park Is Underway. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Moynihan, C. (2014, Jun 11). City Settles Occupy Protesters' False-Arrest Lawsuit. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Dalgren, P. The Political Web: Media, Participation and Alternative Democracy. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 e-book
- Gould-Wartofsky, M.A. The Occupiers: The Making of the 99 Percent Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. e-book
- Levitin, M. (2015, Jun 10). The Triumph of Occupy Wall Street. The Atlantic.
- Taylor, A., ed. Occupy! Scenes from Occupied America. London: Verso, 2011. Main HC110.I5 O338 2011
- Van Gelder, S., ed. This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99 Percent Movement. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, c2011. e-book
- What Does Democracy Mean to You? Reflecting on Zuccotti Park: A Socratic Conversation
- Occupy Wall Street, Day 14, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of EdLab Studios
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