Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Observations from the Edge 12.6.2

I was talking to my sister earlier today and she happened to ask me how the Occupy Wall Street thing started. It's actually something I have wanted to write about but other things always seem to come up and I never do. This is a little something I wrote up for another project that does a good if spare job of answering that question.

A short history of the beginning of Occupy Wall Street....

It all started with an email sent out by Adbusters magazine that included a hashtag, #OccupyWallStreet, and a date, September 17th. It quickly spread with the help of a poster depicting a ballerina dancing atop the Wall Street charging bull statue. When September 17 finally arrived, people came from all over the country but they numbered closer to 2,000 than the hoped for 20,000.

The plan was to hold a General Assembly meeting at Chase Manhattan Plaza and then figure out the next step from there. But the plaza had been closed off the night before. Leaflets showing a map and alternate locations were circulated through the crowd and a decision was made to go with plan B, Zuccotti Park, right between thoroughly barricaded Wall Street and the World Trade Center site. The name Zuccotti Park once had is still on a building across the street and it was too good to be true. Zuccotti Park was quickly renamed Liberty Square, not unlike Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo. The first week there was rarely more than a few hundred protesters at Liberty and they were constantly harassed by police. The began to call themselves 'the 99%' as opposed to the 1% who control majority of the wealth.

Each time there was an incident with the police media attention increased. It sometimes seemed as if the police were trying to do the occupation a favor. Young women pepper sprayed without provocation, teenagers slammed onto the pavement, about 700 arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, each episode brought more cameras, more sympathy, more people and more momentum.

The movement was born.

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