What is Occupy Wall Street?
The “Occupy Movement” seems to be all over the news these days. They set up tent cities all over the world and have members protesting in dozens of different cities. But what are they protesting exactly? Why did they decide to occupy Wall Street, and how did they wind up occupying so many other streets as well? This page aims to provide basic background information about the movement and to answer questions like these.

What Are They Protesting Exactly?
The Occupy Wall Street movement was begun to express displeasure with the handling of the financial crisis of the late 2000’s. Specifically, protesters were upset by the apparent lack of legal repercussions for the individuals and institutions believed to have been instrumental in causing the crisis, as well as the perceived lack of economic reforms to prevent similar crisis from occurring in the future. The movement initially blamed much of this inaction on the strong influence of corporations on American politics.
Since it’s start, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread widely, and as more people and locations become involved with it, the issues it seeks to draw attention to have also diversified. The emphasis given to any particular issues will likely vary greatly between locations. Some of the other issues now linked to the movement include:

How Did This All Get Started?
On September 17th, 2011, the first of the Occupy Wall Street protests started in New York City’s Zuccotti Park. This initial gathering was organized by the Adbusters Media Foundation, a non-profit, anti-consumerist, pro-environmental activacy group. The idea for the protest was suggested and spread via the group’s e-mail list, and rapidly gained support.

Who’s In Charge?
The Occupy movement has no single designated leader or group of leaders. It aims to act as a “people’s movement”, and as such does not wish to be unified behind a specific individual or leadership group. Some of the major people involved in the movement include:

Why Wall Street?
Wall Street is the heart of much of America’s corporate and financial activity. As such, it is often seen as the personification of the many corporations, institutions, and economic practices involved in the financial crisis that the Occupy movement was originally created to protest. It thus served as a concrete target for a movement protesting abstract concepts and entities.

Why Now?
The financial crisis resulted in a Global Recession during 2008, and people often wonder why it is suddenly being protested in 2011. Kalle Lasn of Adbusters has stated that the delay was caused in part by hopes that the new Obama administration would result in the desired economic reforms and legal action against those believed to be responsible. When Obama’s response was perceived to be insufficient, people began feeling that action would have to be taken in order to force the government and Wall Street to make the desired changes.

99% Of What?
The slogan “We are the 99%” refers to the unequal distribution of the U.S.’s wealth between different segments of the population. As of 2009, the richest 1% of American households controlled 37.1% of the country’s wealth. The slogan is intended to express that the Occupy Wall Street movement speaks for the remaining 99% of the population, and gives voice to their objections regarding the perceived injustice of this unequal distribution.

For more information, check out:
www.occupytogether.org
http://occupywallstreet.org/
www.nycga.net/resources/declaration

Kalle Lasn paraphrased from:
http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/10/07/Kalle-Lasn-Occupy-Wall-Street/

Percent of wealth owned by richest 1% as of 2009 from:
http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_589.pdf

  One Response to “Occupy FAQ: A Quick Introduction to the Occupy Movement”

  1. Very comprehensive! Well written.