Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched to Times Square this weekend, and though met with violent police opposition, it did not stop them. As the number of demonstrators grows, the movement has officially reached its one-month mark.
What began as a simple camp-out has catapulted the Occupy Wall Street movement out of the fringe and into the mainstream, though it took weeks of protests and hundreds of arrests for it to gain that momentum. The movement was largely ignored until video footage of unprovoked protesters being pepper-sprayed by a New York City Police Department officer began circulating on the web, which managed to capture the attention of many major outlets that in turn soon began their coverage. Then with the arrests of 700 demonstrators on the Brooklyn Bridge, the rest of the world began to finally take note of the ongoing unrest directed against the corporate greed of Wall Street and the corruption between the financial industry and the American government.
Over the weekend, organizers with Occupy Wall Street announced that they have managed to raise around $300,000 in contributions to keep their cause going. Days earlier a Times magazine poll revealed that the movement has surpassed the president himself in popularity, and celebrities and politicians alike have offered their support to the movement. Now with international support, their own print publication and the mainstream media finally focusing on their agenda, the Occupy Wall Street movement is obviously only expanding.
One month after the first group of protesters began a camp out in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, hundreds at times continue to occupy the city square as numbers continue to grow. This weekend saw the biggest demonstration yet of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement, as thousands of participants marched north through New York City and into Times Square, effectively shutting down the Big Apple landmark and attracting massive media attention.
Only days earlier, throngs of protesters managed to keep New York City sanitation workers from encroaching on Zuccotti Park, despite orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to move into the space for a massive clean-up. The stand-off was considered a success by many protesters. In the days before, the Occupy movement managed to garner the support of several large labor unions in Manhattan and across the US.
Countries across the globe and cities across America have joined those in Zuccotti Park with solidarity gatherings to support the original Occupy Wall Street protesters. In only the last week, massive demonstrations have occurred in Los Angeles, Toronto, Denver and Washington DC, where civil rights activist and scholar Cornel West was arrested on Sunday for occupying the steps of the United States Supreme Court.
Speaking of the success of the movement, Dr. West said that the Occupy Wall Street movement has already obtained historical status. “The question is where it will continue and what form it will take,” said West. “We just don’t know at this point.”
Last week Tea Party co-founder Karl Denninger told RT that Occupy Wall Street’s success is obvious, and contrasting it with his own movement, said the latest protests are off to a great start.
“One of the things that the Occupy movement seems to have going for it is it has not turned around and issued a set of formal demands,” Denninger said. “This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Everyone is looking for a set of demands.”
Aside from the solidarity occupations happening across the country, musicians Kanye West, Jeff Magnum, Tom Morello and Immortal Technique have taken to Zuccotti Park to lend their support. Following the now infamous pepper-spray video, the hacking collective Anonymous issued a statement against the NYPD and has backed the movement in the weeks since.
Despite large opposition to his administration from the protesters, President Barack Obama has also acknowledged the movement, albeit briefly. In a recent press conference, the president told reporters, “I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.”
“The American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules; that Wall Street is an example of that,” said the president.
That acknowledgment, however, might not be enough for the president to get enough support come election time. Caroline Heldman of Occidental College told RT that Barack Obama is perhaps avoiding giving his full-fledged support to the Occupy Wall Street movement in order to come through in 2012. By lending his name to the movement, Heldman said the president “would be protesting many of his own policies,” especially those which have allowed Wall Street to benefit at the hands of the American people.
In the meantime, she said, Obama’s main concern is getting his jobs plan out. And aligning with Occupy Wall Street? That would mean he’d have to associate himself with a dirty word like “socialism,” which is what most of the mainstream media is using to sum up the movement.
General Assembly meetings and gatherings across the globe are expected to continue with protesters insisting on continuing their occupation until their demands are met.