Who Are the Occupy Wall Street Protestors and What Do They Want?

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Answered by: Tom, An Expert in the Current Affairs Category
If you follow the news, even irregularly, then you've heard this term: Occupy Wall Street, and undoubtedly you've heard every type of pundit or politician weigh in, but what are the Occupy Wall Street protests exactly? In mid - 2011, a Canada based organization, Adbusters Foundation, proposed, via an email list, a peaceful occupation of Wall Street (the seat of many corporations and the stock trade) in order to protest corporate greed.



This proposal soon went viral with other Internet activist groups, such as Anonymous and Hacktivists, taking up the idea. The protest was held in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, a privately owned park for public use. Originally, the protests attracted mostly the young due to the message being proliferated through mainly youth-centric social networks, but, as the protests grew and garnered more media attention, older protestors joined; roughly 1/3 of the protestors were older than 35 according to an online survey.

Politically, the protestors range from liberals, political independents, anarchists, socialists, libertarians, and environmentalists, with 70% of online survey respondents identifying themselves as independents. Their numbers are difficult to measure due to the diffuse nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests, but estimates reached a peak of about 15,000 marchers on October 5 and between 100 and 200 protestors sleeping in Zuccotti park every night. The protestors have had problems with logistics; neighboring businesses have complained of protestors coming in and destroying the restrooms, noise problems, and problems with public urination, as well as the confiscation of the park's generators by the New York City Fire Department due to fire hazards.



The protestors are managing though, with bicycle powered generators instead of gas and the donation of portable toilets to the cause by an anonymous donor. Sanitation of the park is also a major issue; the owners of Zuccoti park at one point threatened to shut the park down due to its disrepair, however the protestors began cleaning up after themselves and the vacating of the park was postponed.

As for the demands of the protestors, they still remain slightly difficult to peg down, mainly due to the organization's inherent leaderless structure and lack of hierarchy. At the heart of what most of the protestors say they are there against is income inequality and corporate greed and influence. They point to the disparity in the distribution of the wealth in the United States, with the top one percent of Americans earning forty percent of the wealth - a fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement has used in its unofficial slogan of "We are the 99%." The protesters also point to the record profits that some corporations are making during this economic downturn, as well as the influence that rich exert over the political process through government lobbying and campaign financing.

Some pundits have pointed to the lack of a concrete list of demands from the Occupy Wall Street protests as a weakness, while others assert that the lack of a list benefits them by preventing them from becoming pigeon-holed or fractured. The protests have also sparked protests in other cities, such as London and Oakland with similar grievances.

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