|Location New York City|
Date 17 September 2011
|Causes Wealth inequality, political corruption, corporate influence of government, inter alia.|
Result Extensive social media coverage and outreach / some television and traditional media coverage
Methods Occupation, Civil disobedience, Picketing, Demonstration, Internet activism
Occupy wall street the story behind seven months of protest
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is the name given to a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Wall Street financial district, receiving global attention and spawning the movement against economic inequality worldwide.
- Occupy wall street the story behind seven months of protest
- Occupy wall street a short documentary
- We are the 99
- Income Inequality
- Protester demographics
- Main organization
- The Peoples Library
- Zuccotti Park encampment
- Security crime and legal issues
- Brooklyn Bridge arrests
- Court cases
- Notable responses
- Occupy Yale
- Short Award for Activism
- Influence on movement for higher wages
- Government surveillance
- May Day 2012
- Occupy Sandy
- 3rd Anniversary
- Strike Debt
- Occupy the SEC
- Alternative Banking
The Canadian, anti-consumerist, pro-environment group/magazine Adbusters initiated the call for a protest.
The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, "We are the 99%", refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. To achieve their goals, protesters acted on consensus-based decisions made in general assemblies which emphasized direct action over petitioning authorities for redress.
The protesters were forced out of Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011. Protesters turned their focus to occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, foreclosed homes, and college and university campuses.
On December 29, 2012, Naomi Wolf of The Guardian newspaper provided U.S. government documents which revealed that the FBI and DHS had monitored Occupy Wall Street through its Joint Terrorism Task Force, despite labeling it a peaceful movement. The New York Times reported in May 2014 that declassified documents showed extensive surveillance and infiltration of OWS-related groups across the country.
Occupy wall street a short documentary
The original protest was initiated by Kalle Lasn and Micah White of Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist publication, who conceived of a September 17 occupation in Lower Manhattan. The first such proposal appeared on the Adbusters website on February 2, 2011, under the title "A Million Man March on Wall Street." Lasn registered the OccupyWallStreet.org web address on June 9. That same month, Adbusters emailed its subscribers saying “America needs its own Tahrir.” White said the reception of the idea "snowballed from there". In a blog post on July 13, 2011, Adbusters proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, the lack of legal consequences for those who brought about the global crisis of monetary insolvency, and an increasing disparity in wealth. The protest was promoted with an image featuring a dancer atop Wall Street's iconic Charging Bull statue.
Meanwhile, several similar proposals were being explored by independent groups, as reported by journalist Nathan Schneider in his book Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Thousands of people, organized by a group of labor unions marched on Wall Street 12; the online collective Anonymous attempted an occupation on June 14; activists planned an indefinite occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., which eventually became known as Occupy Washington, D.C.
On August 1, 2011, almost a month prior to the major media event, a group of artists were arrested after a series of days protesting nude as an art performance on Wall Street. This event may have inspired or triggered the major event to follow. This was a protest by the 49 participants on American Institutions and was titled "Ocularpation: Wall Street" by artist Zefrey Throwell.
Then in an unrelated incident, a group called New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts (NYAB) was formed, which promoted a "sleep in" in lower Manhattan called "Bloombergville," in July 2011, preceding OWS, and provided a number of activists to begin organizing. Activist, anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber and several of his associates attended the NYAB general assembly but, disappointed that the event was intended to be a precursor to marching on Wall Street with predetermined demands, Graeber and his small group created their own general assembly, which eventually developed into the New York General Assembly. The group began holding weekly meetings to work out issues and the movement's direction, such as whether or not to have a set of demands, forming working groups and whether or not to have leaders. The Internet group Anonymous created a video encouraging its supporters to take part in the protests. The U.S. Day of Rage, a group that organized to protest "corporate influence [that] corrupts our political parties, our elections, and the institutions of government," also joined the movement. The protest itself began on September 17; a Facebook page for the demonstrations began two days later on September 19 featuring a YouTube video of earlier events. By mid-October, Facebook listed 125 Occupy-related pages.
The original location for the protest was One Chase Manhattan Plaza, with Bowling Green Park (the site of the "Charging Bull") and Zuccotti Park as alternate choices. Police discovered this before the protest began and fenced off two locations; but they left Zuccotti Park, the group's third choice, open. Since the park was private property, police could not legally force protesters to leave without being requested to do so by the property owner. At a press conference held the same day the protests began, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg explained, "people have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we'll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it."
Because of its connection to the financial system, lower Manhattan has seen many riots and protests since the 1800s, and OWS has been compared to other historical protests in the United States. Commentators have put OWS within the political tradition of other movements that made themselves known by occupation of public spaces, such as Coxey's Army in 1894, the Bonus Marchers in 1932, and the May Day protesters in 1971.
More recent prototypes for OWS include the British student protests of 2010, 2009-2010 Iranian election protests, the Arab Spring protests, and, more closely related, protests in Chile, Greece, Spain and India. These antecedents have in common with OWS a reliance on social media and electronic messaging, as well as the belief that financial institutions, corporations, and the political elite have been malfeasant in their behavior toward youth and the middle class. Occupy Wall Street, in turn, gave rise to the Occupy movement in the United States. David Graeber has argued that the Occupy movement, in its anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian consensus-based politics, its refusal to accept the legitimacy of the existing legal and political order, and its embrace of prefigurative politics, has roots in an anarchist political tradition. Sociologist Dana Williams has likewise argued that "the most immediate inspiration for Occupy is anarchism," and the LA Times has identified the "controversial, anarchist-inspired organizational style" as one of the hallmarks of OWS.
"We are the 99%"
The Occupy protesters' slogan "We are the 99%" refers to the protester's perceptions of, and attitudes regarding, income disparity in the US and economic inequality in general, which have been main issues for OWS. It derives from a "We the 99%" flyer calling for OWS's second General Assembly in August 2011. The variation "We are the 99%" originated from a tumblr page of the same name. Huffington Post reporter Paul Taylor said the slogan is "arguably the most successful slogan since Hell no, we won't go!" of the Vietnam War era, and that the majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans see the income gap as causing social friction. The slogan was boosted by statistics which were confirmed by a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released in October 2011.
Income inequality is a focal point of the Occupy Wall Street protests. This focus by the movement was studied by Arindajit Dube and Ethan Kaplan of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who noted that "inequality in the U.S. has risen dramatically over the past 40 years. So it is not too surprising to witness the rise of a social movement focused on redistribution...Greater inequality may reflect as well as exacerbate factors that make it relatively more difficult for lower-income individuals to mobilize on behalf of their interests...Yet, even the economic crisis of 2007 did not initially produce a left social movement...Only after it became increasingly clear that the political process was unable to enact serious reforms to address the causes or consequences of the economic crisis did we see the emergence of the OWS movement...Overall, a focus on the 1 percent concentrates attention on the aspect of inequality most clearly tied to the distribution of income between labor and capital...We think OWS has already begun to influence the public policy making process." An article on the same subject published in Salon Magazine by Natasha Leonard noted "Occupy has been central to driving media stories about income inequality in America. Late last week, Radio Dispatch’s John Knefel compiled a report for media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), which illustrates Occupy’s success: Media focus on the movement in the past half year, according to the report, has been almost directly proportional to the attention paid to income inequality and corporate greed by mainstream outlets. During peak media coverage of the movement last October, mentions of the term “income inequality” increased “fourfold”...tokens of Occupy rhetoric — most notably the idea of a “99 percent” against a “1 percent” — has seeped into everyday cultural parlance." As income inequality remained on people's minds, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said such a focus was about envy and class warfare.
OWS's goals include a reduction in the influence of corporations on politics, more balanced distribution of income, more and better jobs, bank reform (especially to curtail speculative trading by banks), forgiveness of student loan debt or other relief for indebted students, and alleviation of the foreclosure situation. Some media label the protests "anti-capitalist", while others dispute the relevance of this label. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times noted "while alarmists seem to think that the movement is a 'mob' trying to overthrow capitalism, one can make a case that, on the contrary, it highlights the need to restore basic capitalist principles like accountability". Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi asserted, "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street." In contradiction to such views, academic Slavoj Zizek wrote, "capitalism is now clearly re-emerging as the name of the problem," and Forbes columnist Heather Struck wrote, "In downtown New York, where protests fomented, capitalism is held accountable for the dire conditions that a majority of Americans face amid high unemployment and a credit collapse that has ruined the housing market and tightened lending among banks."
Some protestors have favored a fairly concrete set of national policy proposals. One OWS group that favored specific demands created a document entitled the 99 Percent Declaration, but this was regarded as an attempt to "co-opt" the "Occupy" name, and the document and group were rejected by the General Assemblies of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Philadelphia. However others, such as those who issued the Liberty Square Blueprint, are opposed to setting demands, saying they would limit the movement by implying conditions and limiting the duration of the movement. David Graeber, an OWS participant, has also criticized the idea that the movement must have clearly defined demands, arguing that it would be a counterproductive legitimization of the very power structures the movement seeks to challenge. In a similar vein, scholar and activist Judith Butler has challenged the assertion that OWS should make concrete demands: "So what are the demands that all these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused. Or they say that demands for social equality, that demands for economic justice are impossible demands and impossible demands are just not practical. But we disagree. If hope is an impossible demand then we demand the impossible." Regardless, activists favor a new system that fulfills what is perceived as the original promise of democracy to bring power to all the people.
Early on the protesters were mostly young. As the protest grew, older protesters also became involved. The average age of the protesters was 33, with people in their 20s balanced by people in their 40s. Various religious faiths have been represented at the protest including Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Rabbi Chaim Gruber, however, is reportedly the only clergy member to have actually camped at Zuccotti Park. The Associated Press reported in October that there was "diversity of age, gender and race" at the protest. A study based on survey responses at OccupyWallSt.org reported that the protesters were 81.2% White, 6.8% Hispanic, 2.8% Asian, 1.6% Black, and 7.6% identifying as "other".
According to a survey of occupywallst.org website visitors by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, one-third were older than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. When given the option of identifying themselves as Democratic, Republican or Independent/Other 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents. A study released by City University of New York found that over a third of protesters had incomes over $100,000, 76 percent had bachelor's degrees, and 39 percent had graduate degrees. While a large percent of them were employed, they largely reported they were "unconstrained by highly demanding family or work commitments". The study also found that they disproportionally represented upper-class, highly educated white males. A survey of 301 respondents by a Fordham University political science professor identified the protester's political affiliations as 25% Democratic, 2% Republican, 11% Socialist, 11% Green Party, 0% Tea Party, and 12% "Other"; meanwhile, 39% of the respondents said they did not identify with any political party. Ideologically the Fordham survey found 39% self-identifying as extremely liberal, 33% as Liberal, 8% as slightly liberal, 15% as moderate/"middle of the road", 2% as slightly conservative, 3% as conservative, and 1% as extremely conservative.
The assembly is the main OWS decision-making body and uses a modified consensus process, where participants attempt to reach consensus and then drop to a 9/10 vote if consensus is not reached. Consensus is a process of common sentiment. It is not agreement. Participants are given room for dissent and complex ideas are able to form. The process has been used in many indigenous traditions, Quaker practices, the women's liberation movement, anti-nuclear movement, and alter-globalization movement. In the assembly OWS working groups and affinity groups discuss their thoughts and needs, and the meetings are open to the public for both attendance and speaking. The meetings are without formal leadership. Meeting participants comment upon committee proposals using a process called a "stack", which is a queue of speakers that anyone can join. New York uses what is called a progressive stack, in which people from marginalized groups are sometimes allowed to speak before people from dominant groups. Facilitators and "stack-keepers" urge speakers to "step forward, or step back" based on which group they belong to, meaning that women and minorities may move to the front of the line, while white men must often wait for a turn to speak. Participants take minutes of the meetings so that other participants, who are not in attendance, can be kept up-to-date. In addition to the over 70 working groups that perform much of the daily work and planning of Occupy Wall Street, the organizational structure also includes "spokes councils," at which every working group can participate.
Even with the perception of a movement with no leaders, leaders have emerged. A facilitator of some of the movement's more contentious discussions, Nicole Carty, says “Usually when we think of leadership, we think of authority, but nobody has authority here,” – “People lead by example, stepping up when they need to and stepping back when they need to.” According to Fordham University communications professor Paul Levinson, Occupy Wall Street and similar movements symbolize another rise of direct democracy that has not actually been seen since ancient times.
During the initial weeks of the park encampment it was reported that most of OWS funding was coming from donors with incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, and the median donation was $22. According to finance group member Pete Dutro, OWS had accumulated over $700,000. The largest single donor to the movement was former New York Mercantile Exchange vice chairman Robert Halper, who was noted by media as having also given the maximum allowable campaign contribution to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. During the period that protesters were encamped in the park the funds were being used to purchase food and other necessities and to bail out fellow protesters. With the closure of the park to overnight camping on November 15, members of the OWS finance committee stated they would initiate a process to streamline the movement and re-evaluate their budget and eliminate or merge some of the "working groups" they no longer needed on a day-to-day basis.
Met with increasing costs and significant overhead expenses in order to sustain the movement, an internal audit from the fiscal management team known as the "accounting working group" revealed on March 2, 2012, that only $44,000 of the several hundred thousand dollars raised still remained available. The report warned that if current revenues and expenses were maintained at current levels, then funds would run out in three weeks. Some of the movement's biggest costs include ground-level activities such as food kitchens, street medics, bus tickets, subway passes, and printing expenses. In late February 2012 it was reported that a group of business leaders including Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, Danny Goldberg, Norman Lear, and Terri Gardner created a new working group, the Movement Resource Group, and with it have pledged $300,000 with plans to add $1,500,000 more. The money would be made available in the form of grants of up to $25,000 for eligible recipients.
The People's Library
The People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street was started a few days after the protest when a pile of books was left in a cardboard box at Zuccotti Park. The books were passed around and organized, and as time passed, it received additional books and resources from readers, private citizens, authors and corporations. As of November 2011 the library had 5,554 books cataloged in LibraryThing and its collection was described as including some rare or unique articles of historical interest. According to American Libraries, the library's collection had "thousands of circulating volumes," which included "holy books of every faith, books reflecting the entire political spectrum, and works for all ages on a huge range of topics."
Following the example of the OWS People's Library, protesters throughout North America and Europe formed sister libraries at their encampments.
Zuccotti Park encampment
Prior to being closed to overnight use and during the occupation of the space, somewhere between 100 and 200 people slept in Zuccotti Park. Initially tents were not allowed and protesters slept in sleeping bags or under blankets. Meal service started at a total cost of about $1,000 per day. While some visitors ate at nearby restaurants, according to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post many businesses surrounding the park were adversely affected. Contribution boxes collected about $5,000 a day, and supplies came in from around the country. Eric Smith, a local chef who was laid off at the Sheraton in Midtown, said that he was running a five-star restaurant in the park. In late October, kitchen volunteers complained about working 18-hour days to feed people who were not part of the movement and served only brown rice, simple sandwiches, and potato chips for three days.
Many protesters used the bathrooms of nearby business establishments. Some supporters donated use of their bathrooms for showers and the sanitary needs of protesters.
New York City requires a permit to use "amplified sound," including electric bullhorns. Since Occupy Wall Street did not have a permit, the protesters created the "human microphone" in which a speaker pauses while the nearby members of the audience repeat the phrase in unison. The effect has been called "comic or exhilarating—often all at once." Some feel this provided a further unifying effect for the crowd.
During the weeks that overnight use of the park was allowed, a separate area was set aside for an information area which contained laptop computers and several wireless routers. The items were powered with gas generators until the New York City Fire Department removed them on October 28, saying they were a fire hazard. Protesters then used bicycles rigged with an electricity-generating apparatus to charge batteries to power the protesters' laptops and other electronics. According to the Columbia Journalism Review's New Frontier Database, the media team, while unofficial, ran websites like Occupytogether.org, video livestream, a "steady flow of updates on Twitter, and Tumblr" as well as Skype sessions with other demonstrators.
On October 6, Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, issued a statement saying: "Sanitation is a growing concern... Normally the park is cleaned and inspected every weeknight [but] because the protesters refuse to cooperate ... the park has not been cleaned since Friday, September 16 and as a result, sanitary conditions have reached unacceptable levels."
On October 13, New York City's mayor Bloomberg and Brookfield announced that the park must be vacated for cleaning the following morning at 7 am. However, protesters vowed to "defend the occupation" after police said they wouldn’t allow them to return with sleeping bags and other gear following the cleaning, and many protesters spent the night sweeping and mopping the park. The next morning the property owner postponed its cleaning effort. Having prepared for a confrontation with the authorities to prevent the cleaning effort from proceeding, some protesters clashed with police in riot gear outside City Hall after it was canceled. MTV followed two protesters for their series True Life; one of whom, Bryan, was on the sanitation crew. Filming took place during the time when the cleanup happened.
On October 20, residents at a community board meeting complained about inadequate sanitation, verbal taunts and harassment by protesters, noise, and related issues. One resident angrily complained that the protesters "[a]re defecating on our doorsteps"; board member Tricia Joyce said, "They have to have some parameters. That doesn't mean the protests have to stop. I'm hoping we can strike a balance on parameters because this could be a long term stay."
Shortly after midnight on November 15, 2011, the New York City Police Department gave protesters notice from the park's owner (Brookfield Office Properties) to leave Zuccotti Park due to its purportedly unsanitary and hazardous conditions. The notice stated that they could return without sleeping bags, tarps or tents. About an hour later, police in riot gear began removing protesters from the park, arresting some 200 people in the process, including a number of journalists.
On December 31, 2011, protesters started to re-occupy the park. At one point, protesters started to push police barricades into the streets. Police quickly put the barricades back up. Occupiers then started to take down barricades from all sides of the park and stored them in a pile in the middle of Zuccotti Park. Police called in reinforcements as more activists entered the park. Police tried to enter the park but were pushed back by protesters. There were reports of pepper-spray being used by the police. About 12:40 am after the group celebrated New Years in the park, they exited the park and marched down Broadway. Police in riot gear started to clear out the park around 1:30 am. Sixty-eight people were arrested in connection with the event, including one accused of stabbing a police officer in the hand with a pair of scissors.
Since the closure of the Zuccotti Park encampment, some former campers have been allowed to sleep in local churches, but how much longer they will be welcomed is in question and even former park occupiers debate whether or not they can continue to provide funds and meals for homeless protesters. Since the removal, New York protesters have been divided in their opinion as to the importance of the occupation of a space with some believing that actual encampment is unnecessary, and even a burden. Since the closure of the Zuccotti Park encampment, the movement has turned its focus on occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, foreclosed homes, college and university campuses, and Wall Street itself. Since its inception, the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City have cost the city an estimated $17 million in overtime fees to provide policing of protests and encampment inside Zuccotti Park.
On March 17, 2012, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators attempted to mark the movement's six-month anniversary by reoccupying Zuccotti Park. Protesters were soon cleared away by police, who made over 70 arrests. Veteran protesters said the force used by police was the most violent they had witnessed and a Guardian reporter witnessed a protester being slammed into a glass door by a police officer. On March 24, hundreds of OWS protesters marched from Zuccotti Park to Union Square in a demonstration against police violence.
On September 17, 2012, protesters returned to Zuccotti Park to mark the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the occupation. Protesters blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange as well as other intersections in the area. This, along with several violations of Zuccotti Park rules, lead police to surround groups of protesters, at times pulling protesters from the crowds to be arrested for blocking pedestrian traffic. A police lieutenant instructed reporters not to take pictures. The New York Times reported that two officers shoved city councilman Jumaane D. Williams off a bench with batons after he refused two orders to move. A spokesman for Williams later stated that he had been pushed by police while trying to explain his reason for being in the park, but was not arrested or injured. There were 185 arrests across the city.
Security, crime and legal issues
OWS demonstrators complained of thefts of assorted items such as cell phones and laptops; thieves also stole $2500 of donations that were stored in a makeshift kitchen. In November, a man was arrested for breaking an EMT's leg.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said protesters delayed reporting crime until three complaints were made against the same individual. The protesters denied a "three strikes policy", and one protester told the New York Daily News that he had heard police respond to an unspecified complaint by saying, "You need to deal with that yourselves".
After several weeks of occupation, protesters had made enough allegations of rape, sexual assault and gropings that women-only sleeping tents were set up. Occupy Wall Street organizers released a statement regarding the sexual assaults stating, "As individuals and as a community, we have the responsibility and the opportunity to create an alternative to this culture of violence, We are working for an OWS and a world in which survivors are respected and supported unconditionally... We are redoubling our efforts to raise awareness about sexual violence. This includes taking preventative measures such as encouraging healthy relationship dynamics and consent practices that can help to limit harm.”
It was revealed that an internal Department of Homeland Security report warned that Occupy Wall Street protests were a potential source of violence; the report stated that "mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas". The DHS keeps a file on the movement and monitors social media for information, according to leaked emails released by Wikileaks.
Brooklyn Bridge arrests
On October 1, 2011, a large group of protesters set out to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge resulting in 700 arrests. Some said the police had tricked protesters, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across. Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street said, “The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway.” However, some statements by protesters supported descriptions of the event given by police: for example, one protester tweeted that "The police didn't lead us on to the bridge. They were backing the fuck up." A spokesman for the New York Police Department, Paul Browne, said that protesters were given multiple warnings to stay on the sidewalk and not block the street, and were arrested when they refused. By October 2, all but 20 of the arrestees had been released with citations for disorderly conduct and a criminal court summons. On October 4, a group of protesters who were arrested on the bridge filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that officers had violated their constitutional rights by luring them into a trap and then arresting them; Mayor Bloomberg, commenting previously on the incident, had said that "[t]he police did exactly what they were supposed to do."
In June 2012, a federal judge ruled that the protesters had not received sufficient warning that they would be arrested if they entered the roadway. While the police had argued that the protesters had received adequate warning, after reviewing video evidence, Judge Jed S. Rakoff sided with protesters saying, "a reasonable officer in the noisy environment defendants occupied would have known that a single bull horn could not reasonably communicate a message to 700 demonstrators".
In May 2012, three cases in a row were thrown out of court, the most recent one for "insufficient summons". In another case, photographer Alexander Arbuckle was charged with blocking traffic for standing in the middle of the street, according to NYPD Officer Elisheba Vera. However, according to Village Voice staff writer Nick Pinto, this account was not corroborated by photographic and video evidence taken by protesters and the NYPD. In yet another case, Sgt. Michael Soldo, the arresting officer, said Jessica Hall was blocking traffic. But under cross-examination Soldo admitted, it was actually the NYPD metal barricades which blocked traffic. This was also corroborated by the NYPD's video documentation.
Eight men: Episcopalian Bishop George Packard, Mark Adams, Jack Boyle, Ed Mortimer, Ted Alexandro, John Lenmesin, Rev. Dr. Earl Koopercamp, and William Gusakov, all associated with Occupy Wall Street, were found guilty of misdemeanors stemming from a criminal trespass arrest on December 17, 2011. One of them, Mark Adams, was also convicted of attempted criminal mischief and attempted criminal possession of burglar’s tools for trying to slice a lock on a chain-link fence with bolt cutters. Adams was sentenced to 45 days imprisonment (he served 29 days); the other seven were convicted of criminal trespass and sentenced to community service.
One defendant, Michael Premo, charged with assaulting an officer, was found not guilty of all charges after the defense presented video evidence which "showed officers charging into the defendant unprovoked." The video contradicted the sworn testimony of NYPD officers, who had claimed the defendant assaulted them.
A court has ordered that the City pay $360,000 for their actions during the November 15, 2011 raid. That case, Occupy Wall Street v. City of New York, was filed in the US District Court Southern District of New York. Further, the City of New York has since begun settling cases with individual participants. The first of which was most notably represented by students of Hofstra Law School and the Occupy Wall Street Clinic.
Nkrumah Tinsley was indicted on riot offenses and assaulting a police officer during the Zuccotti Park encampment. On May 21, 2013 Tinsley plead guilty to felony assault on a police officer, and will be sentenced later 2013.
In April 2014, the final Occupy court case, the Trial of Cecily McMillan began. Cecily McMillan was charged with and convicted of assaulting a police officer and sentenced to 90-Days in Rikers Island Penitentiary. MCMillan claimed the assault was an accident and a response to what she claimed to be a sexual assault at the hands of said officer. The jury that found her guilty recommended no jail time. She was released after serving 60 days.
During an October 6 news conference, President Barack Obama said, "I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country ... and yet you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place."
On October 5, 2011, noted commentator and political satirist Jon Stewart said in his Daily Show broadcast: “If the people who were supposed to fix our financial system had actually done it, the people who have no idea how to solve these problems wouldn’t be getting shit for not offering solutions.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that while there were "bad actors" that needed to be "found and plucked out", he believes that targeting one industry or region of America is a mistake and views encouraging the Occupy Wall Street protests as "dangerous" and inciting "class warfare". Romney later expressed sympathy for the movement, saying, "I look at what's happening on Wall Street and my view is, boy, I understand how those people feel."
House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi said she supports the Occupy Wall Street movement. In September, various labor unions, including the Transport Workers Union of America Local 100 and the New York Metro 32BJ Service Employees International Union, pledged their support for demonstrators.
Five days into the protest, political commentator Keith Olbermann, formerly of CurrentTV, vocally criticized mainstream media outlets for failing to cover the initial Wall Street protests and demonstrations adequately.
On October 18, 2011, the Communist Party USA endorsed the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
On October 19, 2011, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford spoke on behalf of Greenpeace supporting Occupy Wall Street protesters, stating: "We stand – as individuals and an organization – with Occupiers of all walks of life who peacefully stand up for a just, democratic, green and peaceful future."
The Internet Archive and the Occupy Archive, a project at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, has been collecting material from Occupy sites beyond New York.
In November 2011, Public Policy Polling did a national survey which found that 33% of voters supported OWS and 45% opposed it, with 22% not sure. 43% of those polled had a higher opinion of the Tea Party movement than the Occupy movement. In January 2012, a survey was released by Rasmussen Reports, in which 51% of likely voters found protesters to be a public nuisance, while 39% saw it as a valid protest movement representing the people.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Chris Hedges, a supporter of the movement, argues that OWS had popular support and "articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens."
Many notable figures joined the occupation, including David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills and Nash), Kanye West, Russell Simmons, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Don King, Noam Chomsky, Jesse Jackson, Dr. Cornel West, and Michael Moore.
In November 2011, some students started an Occupy Yale movement, discouraging fellow students from joining the finance sector. 25% of Yale graduates join the financial sector.
Short Award for #Activism
In March 2012, Justin Wedes, OWS Social Media team member, accepted the Shorty Awards for Activism on behalf of the @OccupyWallStNYC TweetBoat social media team.
Influence on movement for higher wages
Commentators attribute Occupy Wall Street as an influence on the Fast food worker strikes. Occupy Wall Street Organizers also contributed to workers at Hot and Crusty, in New York City, obtaining higher wages, and the right to form a union by working with a Worker center.
As the movement spread across the United States, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began keeping tabs on protesters. A DHS report entitled "SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street", dated October 2011, observed that "mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas."
On December 29, 2012, Naomi Wolf of The Guardian newspaper provided U.S. government documents which revealed that the FBI and DHS had monitored Occupy Wall Street through its Joint Terrorism Task Force, despite labelling it a peaceful movement. The crackdown on protesters was coordinated with the big banks on Wall Street. The FBI used counterterrorism agents to investigate the movement.
International activists involved in the Occupy Movement have seen it stall due to a lack of synergy to work with other alternative movements calling for change. The biggest criticism is that the movement is without depth, without a lasting vision of an alternative future.
Remarks from Occupy Wall Street participant Justine Tunney, a Google software engineer, who called on President Obama to appoint Eric Schmidt "CEO of America", have also sparked criticism, including from the vast majority of other Occupy participants, many of whom have observed that her politics are inconsistent with horizontalism.
Many Occupy Wall Street protests have included anti-zionist and anti semitic slogans and signage such as "Jews control Wall Street" or "Zionist Jews who are running the big banks and the Federal Reserve". As a result, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been confronted with accusations of anti-Semitism by major US media.
May Day 2012
Occupy Wall Street mounted an ambitious call for a citywide general strike and day of action on May 1, 2012. Recalls journalist Nathan Schneider, "The idea of a general strike had been circulating in the movement since who-knows-when. There was a woman who called for it back on September 17th. Occupy Oakland tried to mount one on November 2nd, with some success and a few broken windows. Soon after, Occupy LA took the lead in announcing a target that seemed sufficiently far off to be feasible, and sufficiently traditional to seem plausible: May Day." Though the day fell short of its wildest ambitions, tens of thousands of people participated in a march through New York City, demonstrating continued support for Occupy Wall Street's cause and concerns.
Occupy Sandy is an organized relief effort created to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the northeastern United States. Occupy Sandy is made up of former and present Occupy Wall Street protesters, other members of the Occupy movement, and former non-Occupy volunteers.
Three years after the original occupation, there were fewer people actively involved in Occupy than at its height. However, a number of groups that formed during the occupation or resulted from connections made at that time were still active. More broadly, the 99% meme has persisted in common parlance and Thomas Piketty's 700-page tome on global income inequality had become a best-seller.
To celebrate the third anniversary of the occupation, an Occupy Wall Street campaign called Strike Debt announced it had wiped out almost $4 million in student loans, amounting to the indebtedness of 2,761 students. The loans were all held by students of Everest College, a for profit college that operates Corinthian Colleges, Inc. which in turn owns Everest University, Everest Institute, Heald College, and WyoTech.
"We chose Everest because it is the most blatant con job on the higher ed landscape. It’s time for all student debtors to get relief from their crushing burden."
The loans became available when the banks holding defaulted loans put the bad loans up for sale. Once purchased, the group chose to forgive the loans. The funds to purchase the loans came from donations to the Rolling Jubilee Fund, part of the Occupy Student Debt program. As of September 2014, the group claimed to have wiped out almost $19 million in debt.
That amount is insignificant compared to $1.2 trillion in student debt that has been a drain on the American economic engine. Most of these loans are protected by the federal government and are not available for purchase. Nor is bankruptcy protection available to the holders of those loans. The Occupy organization had previously purchased similar Medical debt loans in similar cents on the dollar arrangements. The group wanted to show examples of continuing economic inequality.
"We knew we wanted to focus on issues around for-profit education and looking at education as a commodity. The basic challenge is that we shouldn't need debt to finance basic necessities." "We can't solve the entire problem (of student debt) but we can help along the way while trying to fix the systemic problem" — Laura Hanna, Strike Debt organizer
As of September 2014, Rolling Jubilee claims to have cancelled more than $15 million in medical debt. As of April 2015, Rolling Jubilee reports it has cleared nearly $32 million in debt in total.
Strike Debt has also published two editions of the Debt Resisters Operations Manual. The first was distributed free in pamphlet form and on-line. The second was published as a book and mostly sold through conventional outlets.
Strike Debt, and a successor organization, The Debt Collective were active in organizing the Corinthian 100 students who struck against Corinthian college, a for-profit school that was shut down by the U.S. Department of Education.
Occupy the SEC
Occupy the SEC came together during the occupation. The group seeks to represent the 99% in the regulatory process. They first attracted attention in 2012 when they submitted a 325-page comment letter on the Volcker Rule portion of Dodd Frank.
The group continues to engage in the regulatory process filing lawsuits, amicus court brief, comment letters on regulation and rating legislators. In March 2015, OSEC filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Bank of America N.A. v. Caulkett, and Bank of America N.A. v. Toledo-Cardona and a 33-page comment letter to the Financial Stability Oversight Council regarding asset managers and systemic risk.
Another offshoot of the Occupy Movement, calling itself the OWS Alternative Banking Group, was established during the occupation of Zuccotti Park in 2011. In 2013, the group published a book titled "Occupy Finance" and distributed copies in Zuccotti Park at the second anniversary and elsewhere. FT Alphaville gave it "two thumbs up for discussable policy proposals" while the New York Times Dealbook called it "a guide to the financial system and the events surrounding the crisis, and it proposes a policy framework that it calls 'popular regulation.'" The group continues to meet weekly at Columbia University including a speaker series. The group started a blog in the Huffington Post in 2014.
Alternative Banking ran Occupy Summer School at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in July 2015.