Occupy Wall Street: The Resistance Continues…

By Jonathan Candelaria

Bronx Journal Staff Writer

Zuccotti Park has been a quiet, safe haven for the businessmen that work on nearby Wall Street. In recent weeks the park has undergone a drastic makeover.  Zuccotti Park now features thousands of rebellious protesters spending day and night “Occupying Wall Street.”

The movement was sparked on September 17 when thousands of demonstrators – angry and tired of what they describe as corporate greed along with a dismal economy – spontaneously gathered at the park.

“I’ve spent over 20 years fighting Wall Street, General Motors (and) health insurance companies,” said filmmaker and documentarian Michael Moore, who addressed the crowd recently. “A lot of that has been alone or with just a few people. It warms my heart to see all of you here.”

For more than a month now, these protesters have taken the city by storm: marching through key financial areas, holding general assemblies daily and spreading the spirit of revolution. Their goals, however, are unknown. The occupiers have no list of demands and no formal figurehead to lead them.

The Occupy Wall Street press team describes it this way: “This movement is unique in that, rather than a bunch of organizers deciding on demands a year before the protest date, the premise of this protest is that hundreds of thousands of people should show up, say their piece and add their demands during meetings held each night after the protests.”

These meetings are known as the “General Assembly” and serve as a means of making important decisions, venting and deliberating issues amongst occupiers. This is one of the social quirks that continue to expand Occupy Wall Street. Also available at the Liberty Plaza headquarters is a public library, a kitchen for the people, a medical center, a press team, and an information center.  In addition, Occupy Wall Street has been able to amass $230,000 in donations as well as a stock room full of supplies.

Although these may seem like excessive assets, it must be pointed out that the “people’s kitchen” — as they call it — feeds thousands daily and supplies are in constant need. Occupiers have also taken it upon themselves to try to help the community, urging people who send donations to buy from local small businesses.

All of these factors add to the growth of the movement, which saw a major advancement  despite plans from Brookfield Properties and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to evict the protesters.

“There would be absolutely no point to clearing this park out. What are they going to do about the thousand other (protests)?” said Ian Humphries, an occupier from North Carolina.  “If they clear out Liberty Plaza tonight, D.C., Wall Street, San Francisco, everywhere will double over night. People will start neglecting their jobs to go to it.”

Humphries seemed to capture the sentiment of the growing movement: as the plan was postponed to evict protesters, and the next day, the movement went global. On October 15th, as the occupiers were taking over Times Square, 1,500 cities worldwide joined them in solidarity.

While the occupation has grown to other nations, their motives are still rather ambiguous,  reporters and television pundits have surmised.  Why are they occupying? What do they hope to accomplish?

“We are a bunch of people like you and me who came together and said “enough!” according to an Occupy Wall Street Press release. “We will not remain passive, as formerly democratic institutions become the means of enforcing the will of only 1-2% of the population who control the magnitude of American wealth.”

They go on to state: “We want what everyone else wants: the ability to have a home, to make a livelihood, to have a family or a community, to live free. We all want economic and social justice.”

While the protests have continued to grow, many are forming their own opinion about Occupy Wall Street. An October 17th poll from Quinnipiac University revealed that 72 % of New York City voters said that they understood the views of the protesters “very well” or “fairly well.” In addition, 67% of voters agreed with the protesters’ views and 87% thought it was OK that they were protesting.

Despite the recent support for the movement, not everyone agrees with the movement or thinks it has potential for change.

“It definitely proves a point that people are fed up but I think it’s ineffective because it’s more of a social thing that has no tangible effect on the politics of the issue(s),” said Ali Rodriguez, a 19-year-old student from the Bronx.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has also expressed disdain for the movement.

Cain has been outspoken in the national media about his views.  “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself,” he has stated. “It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.”

For many participating in the protests, this is the moment they’ve been waiting for their entire lives. Ian Humphries is no different: “This is what I’ve been dreaming of since I realized how bad things really are.”

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