A year or so ago, the notion that Americans would descend on lower Manhattan to set up peaceful barricades, outdoor kitchens and attempt to camp out for a couple of months would seem unlikely, if not laughable.
But on September 17th, 2011, that’s just what’s going to be attempted.
Maybe this isn’t so surprising, though. After all, it has become abundantly clear that a prolonged occupation of America’s financial nerve center is absolutely necessary. As The Project and others have stated before, traditional parliamentary avenues to remediate grievances have been corrupted by powerful interests, not the least of which is Wall Street:
1) Big banks are pushing hard to walk away from mortgage fraud with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and the Obama administration is perfectly fine with that, even going so far as to remove proponents of a thorough investigation into Wall Street malfeasance.
2) Wall Street influence has infected the highest levels of the SEC, the very agency that’s supposed to regulate the market.
3) Unfavorable opinion of Wall Street is at an all-time high, Bloomberg finds:
“Most people interviewed in the Bloomberg National Poll say they don’t like Wall Street, banks or insurance companies and favor letting the government punish bankers who helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
4) And yet, not a single prosecution has come down from the U.S. Department of Justice for any of Wall Street’s casino capitalists.
When government becomes unresponsive to the needs of the people and fails to punish the very criminals that were bailed out by the American taxpayer, the people must (as our ancestors did for labor and civil rights) organize nonviolently to take matters into their own hands.
The Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStreet) movement will demand an end to “the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.” The organizers state: “The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America”[emphasis mine]. By attempting this occupation, the organizers hope to strengthen and amplify their message to D.C. that politicians must begin addressing the problem of special interests’ influence on government.
People from across the country “have stepped up to organize this event, such as the people of the NYC General Assembly and US Day of Rage” (an interview with the latter organization can be found here.) The hacker group known as Anonymous, which has recently been organizing protests against the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), has now joined the movement as well.
How successful will this effort be? Things could get sticky. An occupation of the Street has never been attempted before. Wall Street has a strong security presence, especially after September 11th, 2001. And it’s not clear, with heavy NYPD interference quite likely, just how many people will end up staying past the weekend. The true test of this movement, then, will be its commitment to persistence, and also how much media attention it receives. A movement truly fails only after it gives up.
During a Project interview with Alexa O’Brien (@carwinb), an organizer with US Day of Rage, she said of the influence Tahrir Square is having on reclaiming democracy here in the U.S.:
“I see an American moment coming to America. It’s not that Tahrir isn’t inspiring. People all over the world are facing tremendous challenges in the face of globalization, increased institutional complexity, and ancient problems of just and stable governance. But our nation’s problems are our responsibility to fix. Either we face up to that fact, or our nation will perish from the earth.”
I think that’s an excellent place to start from when organizing nonviolent resistance against the American oligarchy, don’t you?
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