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Who Started Occupy Wall Street And What Do They Want?
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Who Started Occupy Wall Street And What Do They Want?

What Is "Occupy Wall Street"?

Over the past several months, a new movement has gained incredible traction amongst seemingly disparate groups of people worldwide. Flying under the banner "We Are The 99%", over 1500 separate protests took place around the world on October 15th, 2011. Many viewpoints are being represented at these protests, but the single over-arching theme is that the working class is fed up with greed, corruption, and abuse of power rampant in meganational corporations and world governments. But few people know exactly who started "Occupy Wall Street" in the first place.

Who Started The Movement?

The name and idea was coined by a Canadian magazine publisher named Adbusters Media Foundation, who have published an advertisement-free magazine since 1989. Adbusters has historically focused on environmentalism, anti-consumerism, and other generally considered "liberal" topics. The idea for the occupation of Wall Street came to them during a brainstorming session which they sent to their email newsletter in July of this year.

From that point forward, the movement has erupted into a worldwide phenomenon. When a New York police officer used pepper spray on one of the protestors, the public outcry helped fuel the fire.

Additionally, members from the hacker and activist group Anonymous picked up on the rallying cry and encouraged its own loose collective of followers to join to demonstration. The original Adbusters message was fairly simple. They inteded to create a peaceful occupation of Wall Street in protest against:

Who's In Charge of Occupy Wall Street Now?

Good question. Since the original protest in New York, similar protests have sprung up in every major city in America (and many smaller cities as well). The movement has also spread globally, with 82 separate countries holding protests on October 15th alone. The question remains, who's behind all of this?

Officially, the group has no leader, and for the most part, that's true. When the call to action is akin to, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!", as was eloquently stated in the 1976 film Network, it's often quite easy to believe that everyone feels the same way and will just organically come together. With the proliferation of social media and mobile devices, organizing a protest with 2000 of your closest friends takes no more than a few clicks and a fancy logo.

Much of the media has attempted to portray the Occupy gatherings as a left-wing Tea Party, but the current "members" are even more diverse than the initial Tea Party gatherings. Libertarians, conservatives, liberals, communists, anarchists, and independents have all gathered together for these events. While the overall make-up of most protests may lean slightly left, it's by no means a left-wing radical movement.

Did George Soros Finance Occupy Wall Street?

Some conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have tried to tie the entire idea to George Soros (which they often do when they can't explain things properly before a commercial break). But, the connections between Soros and Adbusters are tenuous at best. Soros has some financial ties to Adbusters, although that should come as no surprise given the overlap in ideologies. To say that Soros was the mastermind and financier of an "inverted Tea Party" is patently absurd and misleading.

When governments take trillions of dollars in taxpayer money and hand it to private corporations with little to no oversight, people have a right to be angry. If camping out in a private park with thousands of other like-minded individuals can prompt public discourse about corporate influence in politics, perhaps everyone should be looking for a tent and sleeping bag.

Street Talk

Great article. When I first saw Occupy in the news I thought to myself that it was too disorganized to be natural. Someone was pulling the financial strings. You pulled aside the veil to show us who it is.

  about 1 decade ago

Great article Jason and very informative. I am still on the fence whether I think the Occupy movement is a good idea or whether or not it carries sufficient "ideologies" to make it a progressive movement, but at the very least I do agree with a lot of frustration.

  about 1 decade ago

Yeah, I still haven't entirely warmed to the movement either, but I understand and agree with the angst. People are angry, but who knows how much of an impact these gatherings will actually have long term. But for the police to pepper spray peaceful protestors is outrageous.

  about 1 decade ago
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