Masses of protesters have been crowding Wall Street for weeks in Manhattan, speaking against economic inequality. Now the protests have expanded to the streets of Washington, D.C. with a new mission known as Stop the Machine.
What is Occupy Wall Street?
Occupy Wall Street is a demonstration initiated by protesters in lower Manhattan who wanted to speak out against economic inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporate money and lobbyists on politics and governmental decisions.
They are demanding the presidential commission separate money from politics in hopes of setting the agenda for a new America. They also want to show that Wall Street Reform isn’t enough and the businesses responsible for the economic meltdown should be held accountable for their actions.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are said to be inspired by and modeled after the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt. Officially starting on Sept. 17, approximately 1,000 protestors began marching through the streets while an estimated 100 to 200 slept on the streets overnight in cardboard boxes.
Since that time, law enforcement has become involved, making hundreds of arrests, including over 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct 1. The country–and world–has taken notice and many agree with their mission and encourage the protests to spread.
Occupy Wall Street Demonstrations Gain Support in Washington, D.C.
In the weeks following the initial protests, Occupy Wall Street demonstrations gained support in additional cities, including Washington, D.C.
Protests began in Washington’s McPherson Square on Oct. 1 as Occupy DC. The event drew 10 to 50 people a day and involved waving signs at people as they left their K Street offices. But starting on Thursday, Stop the Machine protests began and drew the support of hundreds from as far away as Hawaii.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have also been held in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Seattle and Denver, among other cities. Popular figures and major organizations have joined the cause to push for change.
Supporters of Occupy Wall Street protestors include:
- Unions: Transport Workers Union of America Local 100 and New York Metro 32BJ Service Employees International Union
- Celebrities: Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Michael More, Lupe Fiasco, Russell Simmons, Alec Baldwin, Radiohead, Chris Hedges, Margaret Atwood, among others.
- Elected officials: U.S. Congressman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Senator Bernie Sanders, Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Representatives Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison.
Opponents of the protests have also stepped forward, including Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who accused the movement of being “anti-capitalism” and stated “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”
While President Barack Obama hasn’t addressed whether he supports or opposes the protests, he did complain Wall Street was not taking responsibility for its role in the financial crisis prior to signing Wall Street Reform into law.
There has been no projected end-date to the Occupy Wall Street protests. As told to Julie Shapiro of DNAinfo.com on Tuesday, they plan to remain on the streets for “As long as it takes.”