Occupy Wall Street Movement Endures


Courtesy of David Shankbone

Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

The Occupy Wall Street protests reached a chaotic climax last Tuesday morning when the NYPD unexpectedly made multiple arrests in Zuccotti Square. Mayor Michael Bloomberg authorized the surprise raid of the two-month encampment, which resulted in an estimated 200 arrests. Later in the evening, the movement suffered another blow when its request for a permit at the park was denied by a state council, forcing most to regroup nearby at Foley Park.

The raid was inspired by similar crackdowns in Portland and Oakland and also led to more in Phoenix, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

Currently, the Occupy Wall Street protests remain characterized by passion, controversy, and to some, confusion. The origins of this leaderless revolt against corporate greed are shaky at best, with the original idea attributed to Adbusters, a Canadian magazine, whose movement spread through social networking. Beginning in mid-September in New York City, the movement has extended to all of America’s big cities, including downtown West Palm Beach.

However, Occupy Palm Beach seems to be experiencing an entirely different treatment from local authorities than other cities. The protestors currently camp peacefully and, some would consider, comfortably in an abandoned parking lot on Flagler Drive, with a permit approved by the city.

This is sharply contrasted by the brutality that occurred at UC Davis. Last Friday, police officers pepper sprayed a peaceful line of protestors, resulting in multiple hospitalizations. Chancellor Linda Katehi, who authorized the attack, has been criticized greatly for allowing the controversial incident.

Despite differences in treatment across the country, the message remains the same. ‘We are the 99%,’ the slogan emblazoned on many protest signs, refers to the income divide present in the United States. Only 1% of Americans control a third of the wealth in this country. Supporters of the movement are frustrated with the power banks and corporations have in the government, whom they blame for rampant unemployment, exorbitant health care and excessive student loan debt. The makeup of the protestors themselves reflects the melting pot of dissatisfaction. Most seem to find solace in the growing online community sharing their problems with each other.

The largest concern with these protests seems to be their ultimate goal, or lack thereof. Cries for change are resonant throughout, but the means by which to accomplish it continue to be debated. It simply isn’t feasible to expect every greedy banker to become arrested, as some have reportedly called for. In addition, the blame continues to be shifted: the government is ineffective; the bankers are greedy; or the protestors themselves are just lazy and blaming others for not being able to land a job. Until the demonstrators organize a more concrete set of reasonable demands it seems as though their days of camping out will continue indefinitely.