There's no hiding the fact that the American public is angry, worried and tired.
Angry at Wall Street and Washington; the former for its alleged corruption and support for a vicious cycle that seems to be holding back the the lower and middle classes of the country, meanwhile seeing the later as to blame for reacting to such corruption with folded hands.
Worried about the economy, staggering debt, no jobs and record unemployment. Where are the jobs? Where's the relief that's been promised time and time again?
Tired of waiting for relief to come from the powers that be. Tired of looking for employment with no hope in sight. Tired of that disappointment, of wondering and waiting for something to happen.
The wait, however, seems to be over.
The frustrations of the American public have culminated in a movement known as Occupy Wall Street. Labeled as leaderless with demands are which difficult to pin down, both by critics and the movement itself, the movement looks to ultimately protest those seen as controlling the vast majority of the country and calls for their corruption to end. The protest looks to send a message to not only Wall Street, but also to Washington and ultimately the world at large.
The physical protests began on September 17th in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street district. Roughly 1,000 marched the streets, meanwhile a few hundred remained in the area overnight. Arrests began only days later, meanwhile by early October marches of over 15,000 protesters began to organize. The movement was largely organized online, with no true central “leader” in regards to the movement itself. In regards to the demands and focus of the protests, one of the primary organizers of the movement, a group known as AdBusters, is quoted as saying that the protest is meant to “ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.”
The backgrounds of those attending the protests and occupying Wall Street are far and wide. From frustrated college students to laid-off white collar workers, those occupying are certainly a diverse bunch. This diversity seems to give a degree of credibility to the movement despite its criticized “lack of focus,” as its support doesn't come from one centralized group in regards to age or political affiliation.
That said, the political backgrounds of the protesters vary greatly as well. Many protesters are frustrated with Washington, some specifically with Obama, and others specifically with capitalism. There is definitely a tone of dissatisfaction with Washington as a whole for not holding Wall Street accountable for what the protesters see as illegal activity and irresponsibility, ultimately resulting in the oppression of the lower classes of the country.
Despite such dissatisfaction, Obama has thrown his support towards the protesters and sympathizes with their desires. In early October, the President stated he thought that the protest “expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression . . .and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place." The President has also noted the fact that the protesters come from politically diverse backgrounds, noting that their plight is not independent of political affiliation.
Media coverage of the protests has been fragmented, especially during the early stages of the movement. Labeled by many as a sort of “Internet revolution,” much coverage of Occupy Wall Street has been dominated by Social Media outlets such as Twitter
as well as other microblog sites such as Reddit. Coverage in the blogosphere certainly isn't scarce, yet mainstream television coverage seems to be harder to come by. It wasn't until mass arrests and pepper-spray incidents that Occupy Wall Street seemed to begin popping up on the television screen. Celebrities ranging from scholars to musicians have managed to make headlines through their support of the movement and attempts to understand and spread its message.
Despite these efforts, however, it seems that current mainstream media coverage of politics is laser-focused on the current Republican candidates for the 2012 Presidential Election
. Many of these candidates have in fact weighed in on the protests with varying levels of support. Herman Caine has spoken out against the protesters, stating that they should blame themselves for their economic woes as opposed to Washington or Wall Street. Meanwhile Ron Paul has praised the movement for its ability to bring attention to a problem that's has plagued the financial system for decades. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have claimed to be skeptical of some of the protesters but that others had legitimate concerns to be sympathized with.
The movement has gathered international attention, sympathy and support ranging from the United Kingdom to India. Chinese media has noted that the protests denote a clear problem with the United States' financial system. Meanwhile, a number of “Occupy” protests have begun to pop up all over America, with a reported 900 cities staging their own demonstrations in support of the movement.
Regardless of how one feels about the movement, it shares many grievances of the small business
community and one can't deny what it's managed to do in a relatively short amount of time. That is, global attention and support for a cause without a centralized leader or figurehead. While the demands and focus of the movement remains vague to some, many within the movement are stating that right now the focus of the protests is to simply grow the movement. In this sense, what we're seeing now is only the start of something much bigger to come.
It's difficult to say what's next for Occupy Wall Street
. What'll be the next move? How big will it truly manage to get? Regardless of what happens next, the world will certainly be watching.