Wall Street Protests Touched National Nerve
By Michael Levitin, New America Media
Last Saturday, prior to the thousands-strong march of Wall Street protestors attempting to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, which ended in some 700 arrests, the first edition of The Occupied Wall Street Journal hit New York City’s streets. Within three days, all 50,000 copies had been snapped up and distributed by volunteers throughout the five boroughs, leading to another print run Tuesday ahead of the paper’s second edition, which comes out Friday.
The Journal, a 4-page weekly broadsheet funded entirely through online contributions at Kickstarter.com, is the latest manifestation of a social media-driven movement that is growing in real body numbers and gaining national momentum at alarming speed.
Since the occupation began in Liberty Square in lower Manhattan on Sept. 17, dozens of cities across the U.S. have gotten into the act, setting up occupied encampments in places as diverse as Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, Boston and Birmingham; Philadelphia, Austin, San Diego, Tampa and Salt Lake City. (The website occupytogether.org is great resource to follow the movement’s developments and learn how to get involved in your towns and cities.)
Initially portrayed in the media as a rag-tag band of young underemployed activists protesting without any specific demands, Occupy Wall Street has touched a national nerve because it embodies something far more potent, and obvious: a voice for the 99 percent of Americans whose interests are not being served by the corporate elites that govern Wall Street and Washington.
On Monday, a march around Wall Street by occupiers dressed as corporate zombies, devouring dollar bills, garnered national media attention. But visual actions like this one and the other daily marches happening throughout lower Manhattan, only scratch the surface of the true organizing power that underlies this movement.
Already, workers’ unions across New York City have publicly backed the occupation, from teachers to phone workers, transit workers, building maintenance and hospital workers. On Wednesday, Oct. 5, a march by the unions will take place in coordination with a citywide student walkout, lending further support to the set of principles articulated in the Declaration of the Occupation – a document that was approved, released and distributed nationally by the New York City General Assembly, the movement’s horizontally run, consensus-based governing body, last week.
Marches are underway to Washington, DC, where a significant occupation has taken root, and in under two weeks the world shall witness a global day of occupations that will spring from as-yet quiet corners of Europe and beyond.
Born from the movement of the 99 percent, The Occupied Wall Street Journal seeks to provide a platform for those participating in the occupation of Wall Street and other occupations across the country, in order to share their stories, express their views and propose ideas toward a systemic transformation of the corporate-controlled state.
If you see a copy of the paper on your street, pick it up. Tune in. Join us.
Michael Levitin is the managing editor of The Occupied Wall Street Journal. This post first appeared at New America Media.
Photo by LianaAn and Nick Gulotta