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Five Things You (and Obama) Need to Know About the Occupy Wall Street Protests

Posted on the 11 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Five things you (and Obama) need to know about the Occupy Wall Street protests

Occupy Wall Street. Photo credit: BlaisOne,

Occupy Wall Street has grown from an encampment in a Manhattan park to a US-wide protest movement endorsed by celebrities and political figures, and embraced by diverse groups. The movement has wide-ranging aims, but the basic idea is to protest against corporate greed.

Famous fans. The Huffington Post reported that rapper Kanye West recently turned up at an Occupy Wall Street rally in New York. Other well known supporters include Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Yoko Ono and Roseanne Barr. Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s issued a statement of support, while philosopher Slavoj Zizek made a speech to protesters. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also got in on the act, condemning “repression” of the protesters by police.

But not everyone’s a fan. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week criticised OWS protesters for “trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city”. However, New York Magazine reported that the mayor had “softened his stance” by later announcing that the protesters had the right to express themselves so long as they stayed within the law. Meanwhile, ABC News’ The Note blog pointed out that there is an “ever-expanding circle of Republicans” speaking out against Occupy Wall Street, including presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.

What about Obama? While the Republicans criticise the movement, Eric Lichtblau wrote on The New York Times Politics blog that Democrats are seeking to align themselves with Occupy Wall Street ahead of the 2012 presidential race. However, Lichtblau also argued that there are concerns within the Democratic Party that this would backfire if the protests turned violent, and that there is a possibility of “pushing the party dangerously to the left” and alienating moderate voters. The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama last week characterised the protests as expressing the frustrations of Americans due to the financial crisis.

Movement growing? Nate Rawlings reported for Time that the protest camp in Manhattan has seen an increase in numbers, possibly partly thanks to the warm weather. Meanwhile, Stephanie Haberman wrote on Mashable that the movement has “caught fire” online, with increased chatter on social networking sites and blogs, and ever more protest-related photographs and videos circulating. Similar protests have taken place in other US cities, including Boston, Seattle, Chicago and LA.

A global protest. Writing for Reuters, Peter Apps considered Occupy Wall Street in the context of growing global unrest, pointing out that people protesting against NHS changes in London last weekend used the same slogans as US activists. “Already, the tactic of occupying a location – be it a park, the central square in an Arab city or a university common room – appears to be becoming commonplace,” he wrote.

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