To occupy or not to occupy?

Last September, men and women all over the country with similar political and economic views joined together in protest. These men and women, deeming themselves the 99% of Americans, shared common goals in looking to punish and acknowledge the greed of the remaining 1% of Americans.

Protestors gathered in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District on September 17, 2011, armed with opinions, signs and slogans that sought to uncover the corruption of the nation’s billionaires and chief executive officers. Although this movement, named the occupy movement, began with little support and recognition, within days, people from all over the country joined the protest, seeking to end the corporate greed they believed to be present in America.

Because the occupy movement began on Wall Street without a leader and with few supporters, it was originally considered to be scattered and unorganized. In an interview with CBS in November, Lisa Fritch, Tea Party Activist and author of “Obama, Tea Parties & God,” spoke about the movement, stating, “There’s no leadership in all of this chaos…this group could not have a leader if they tried…this is a radical, dangerous, and increasingly violent movement.”

Although the occupy movement may have been chaotic and muddled, it succeeded in raising debate among Americans. Conflicting opinions brought up the ubiquitous issue of class warfare, causing people to take a stance either for or against the movement. In his piece, “Lessons Learned from #OWS,” Shen Tong, an Occupy Wall Street activist and writer for the Huffington Post, wrote, “The movement has called for communal conversations in hundreds of American cities to successfully shift national dialogue from hypocritical austerity discussion to social and economic fairness.” A movement that causes strong opinion and debate among Americans is indeed a successful one.

As the occupy movement grew over time, protestors and supporters began to occupy cities all over the world. When occupiers arrived in Washington D.C. in early December 2011, they built a fort to keep comfortable and warm while they protested. That same day, police tore the fort down in an effort to end the movement, according to an article by David Weigel. In the article, occupier Asantewaa Nkruma-Ture spoke about police efforts to end the movement, saying, “There are dilapidated houses where people have wanted building inspectors to come for years. They keep calling, no one comes. This house goes up, and they’re here the same day!”

Although this movement has caused a multitude of debates and opinions, it is still lacking in structure and firm organization. The Occupy Wall Street website contains a  proposed list of demands written by an occupier, including everything from creating a universal healthcare system to ending the “war on drugs.” Because demands and needs are unique to each occupier, the movement does not appear strong enough to evoke serious change in the government. In an article titled Do we know what OWS wants yet? by Joan Walsh, she quotes David Graeber, who says, “Clearly, if progressive change was not possible through electoral means in 2008, it simply isn’t going to be possible at all. And that is exactly what very large numbers of Americans appear to have concluded.” The occupy movement has definitely caused conflict and altered the way Americans communicate, but without strong organization and radical leaders, the change that these occupiers seek may not be possible.


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