Occupy Wall Street

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Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a politically progressive protest with anti-capitalist elements. The protest began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, after being stoked by from various angles including a Canadian magazine and a New York economic action group. The movement gained force through a combination of main-stream media and word-of-mouth coverage, provoking numerous sympathetic protests overseas. The protest was ended by police eviction, acting on the mayor's go-ahead, at 1 am on November 15, 2011. OWS provoked a number of resurgences and is still having an impact on American politics today.


As a matter of course, we do not tend to use sources that were published more than 24 months before the time of research. However, given the historical nature this request we used several older sources to capture information as close to the event as possible as well as more recent sources to achieve a modern perspective.

The request asked that we address the inception, groundswell/key players, end, and resurgence/lasting impact of the OWS movement. While several of these sources address more than one part of that list, for reference they have been categorized based the part of the request that most directly or predominantly address.


This story by US News explores the origin and rise of Occupy Wall Street. It looks at the way OWS inspired movements sprung up in nearly 80 countries outside the US. One notable quote in the story comes from then-Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain: "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."


This story from Vanity Fair names names, covering a conversation between influential leaders and observers of the movement as they discuss OWS and how they participated in and contributed to its groundswell. One notable quote comes from Vlad Teichburg: "People think this started in New York on September 17, but that’s not true. From my point of view, it started in Egypt."


This article by Mother Jones has a similar take on the rise of the movement, pointing to a Canadian magazine and the New York City General Assembly, among other groups, as critical to the rise of the movement. The referenced article, from the magazine, Anti-capitalist Canadian, includes the phrase "Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?"


This story from Business Insider focuses on the fall of the movement, addressing the police actions and government decisions, including those of then-Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, that ended the protests. One quote from Mayor Bloomberg at the time goes: "No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities"


This story in The Atlantic describes the movement glowingly, analyzing its impact on the world's conversation about inequality and wages. The story attributes OWS with injecting an awareness of the dichotomy between "the 99 percent and the 1 percent."


The article takes an international perspective, addressing the way OWS was perceived overseas and addresses the way the movement made political noise heard in places far from Zuccotti Park. It marks out the inclusiveness of the movements, in one quote mentioning that "in principle, everybody could participate."


This piece by the New York Times focuses on the media coverage and media reactions to OWS, both at the time and in the aftermath. In doing so it discusses how the movement, and information about it, was spread and how that information affected groundswell. OWS mouthpiece Patrick Bruner is quoted as saying, "...when this media doesn’t cover us in a fair light, the desire isn’t to shame them, it’s to create an alternative."


This story by The Daily Trojan looks at the one-year anniversary of OWS and discusses the resurgence and legacy of the movement. One notable exhortation directly from the author is: "While Occupy Wall Street may not have produced any direct effect on economic policy but it has contributed to a resurgence in activism which youth should not hesitate to take advantage of."


This blog post from 2012 addresses the echoes of the movement throughout the year following the end of the protest. The author remarks on "the huge mass of different Occupy groups which has never stopped meeting and planning throughout the winter even if Occupy’s public presence diminished."


This recent story in The Metro looks at the relationship between the OWS's legacy and new Democratic Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The thesis of the article, reflecting on the eviction of the protesters from Zuccotti Park, states that "You cannot evict an idea."


The ten links above should provide a survey of the beginning, the rise, the end, and the lasting implications of the OWS movement. The origins of the movement can variously be traced to Egypt, Canada, and various movements in and outside of New York. Its impact has been said to be felt in the rhetoric of Senator Bernie Sanders and the rise of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Did this report spark your curiosity?


  • "Since the start of "Occupy Wall Street" in New York. Since its inception, the movement has spawned offshoot groups in other cities both in America and abroad."
  • "This weekend, occupiers in over 80 countries took to the streets in protest. Here's how the protests have emanated out of a small park in the Financial District and captured the world's attention"
  • "July 26 A group calling itself "New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts" announces a meeting on Wall Street on August 2 to protest potential austerity measures as a result of the debt-ceiling crisis. "
  • "That day, another set of protesters planning for an upcoming "occupation" protest joins them, and, according to occupywallst.org, after the assembly the two groups "gather into working groups to plan for the September 17 occupation of Wall Street"
  • ""Occupy" movement spreads to Chicago where protesters march from Willis Tower to the Federal Reserve Bank."
  • "October 1 Over 5,000 protesters bearing banners reading "We are the 99%" head toward the Brooklyn Bridge, shutting down a lane of traffic for several hours. New York City police arrest over 700 occupiers. "Occupy" movements begin in Los Angeles, Boston, and St. Louis."
  • " An estimated 15,000 protesters and union members, the largest group to date, march on the financial district. Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain explains his view of the movement, saying, "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!""
  • "Occupy Wall Street shows how the spark was lit in Zuccotti Park as a disparate, passionate mix of activists, celebrities, and accidental protesters changed the national conversation."
  • "They would be joined, over the next two months, by thousands of supporters, who erected tents, built makeshift institutions—a field hospital, a library, a department of sanitation, a free-cigarette dispensary—and did a fair amount of drumming."
  • "The amazing thing about the Occupy Wall Street movement is not that it started—America was full of fed-up people at the end of 2011—but that it worked. "
  • "Nonexistent leadership structure and a minuscule budget (as of December, they’d raised roughly $650,000—one-eighth of Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign haul), the occupiers in Zuccotti Park nevertheless inspired similar protests in hundreds of cities around the country and the world."
  • "Occupy Wall Street quickly attracted intellectual celebrities—and, eventually, actual celebrities—but its founders were an unlikely assortment of stifled activists, part-time provocateurs, and people who simply had no place else to turn."
  • "It is unclear whether the impact of Occupy Wall Street will be lasting or brief. But the story of how these unlikely organizers—and the activists, students, and homeless people who joined them—managed to seize control of the national conversation is remarkable, miraculous even."
  • "The group often credited with sparking Occupy Wall Street is Adbusters, the Canadian anti-capitalist magazine that, in July, issued a call to flood lower Manhattan with 90,000 protesters. “Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?” the magazine asked. "
  • "But that’s not how Occupy Wall Street sprang to life. Without that worldly group that met at 16 Beaver and later created the New York City General Assembly, there might not have been an Occupy Wall Street as we know it today."
  • "The group included local organizers, including some from New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, but also people who’d taken part in uprisings all over the world. "
  • "That international spirit would galvanize Occupy Wall Street, connecting it with the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, the heart of Spain’s populist uprising."
  • "“When you have all these people talking about what they did, it opens a world of possibility we might not have been able to imagine before,” says Marina Sitrin, a writer and activist who helped organize Occupy Wall Street."
  • "Adbusters picked September 17 as its day of action. The New York City General Assembly had talked with members of Adbusters and made the decision to set its sights on the 17th as well."
  • "On Saturday, Occupy Wall Street truly went global. In 951 cities in 82 countries around the world, people marching under the banner of “October 15th” and #GlobalChange protested income inequality, corrupt politicians, and economies rigged to benefit a wealthy few at the expense of everyone else. "
  • "In a move that caught protesters completely by surprise, New York police raided Zuccotti Park right around 1:00 AM this morning, using bullhorns to announce that any protesters who did not leave faced arrest."
  • "First, pressure on "Occupy" movements have been building for the last few days. Denver, Portland, and Oakland have all seen raids. There were also multiple helicopters in the sky"
  • "As we got to the park, traffic came to a crawl. We saw a big lineup of ambulances on the nearby roads. And there were tons of cop cars on the road. The police were very well prepared. EVERYONE, including media, was held several blocks away from the action."
  • "While the outside was blocked off, police reportedly were ripping up tarps and tents and loading them into dumpsters. the police bring in an LRAD, a speaker designed to produce extremely loud noise."
  • "Eventually, the police completely emptied the park. According to CNBC there were 70 arrests. NY1's Lindsey Christ described the scene as 20 of the scariest minutes in her life, according to a tweet from Brian Stelter"
  • "At this point, protesters have dispersed around the city. There's currently a General Assembly at Foley Square. Apparently they can return to Zuccotti in a few hours without tents or tarps."
  • "No right is absolute and with every right comes responsibilities. The First Amendment gives every New Yorker the right to speak out - but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park or otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others."
  • " Occupy’s chief accomplishment was changing the national conversation by giving Americans a new language—the 99 percent and the 1 percent—to frame the dual crises of income inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics. "
  • "The Occupy protests motivated fast-food workers in New York City to walk off the job in November 2012, sparking a national worker-led movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour."
  • "The grassroots movement composed of fast-food workers and Walmart employees, convenience-store clerks, and adjunct teachers seized on the energy of Occupy to spark a rebirth of the U.S. labor movement."
  • "Occupy also reshaped the U.S.-environmental movement. As people gravitated to Occupy encampments, teach-ins, and demonstrations across the country, that energy easily transferred into the fight against climate change."
  • " This was especially true on college campuses, where a student-led divestment movement has rid more than $50 billion in fossil-fuel assets from universities and institutional investment funds worldwide"
  • "That helped spur a nationwide movement as 16 state legislatures and more than 600 U.S. towns and cities have passed resolutions to overturn Citizens United and draft a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations are not people and money is not speech."
  • "Occupy offshoot movements like Strike Debt, Rolling Jubilee, and Debt Collective are tackling America’s $1.3 trillion college-debt conundrum by buying back student debt for pennies on the dollar and forgiving it. "
  • "Most significant, perhaps, is how the debate over inequality sparked by Occupy has radically remade the Democratic Party. "
  • "Occupy reflected both the political diversity and marginality of the Left. I do think that you can trace Occupy back to several other moments: "
  • "The Seattle WTO protests, the global justice and anti-war movements of the Bush years, the anti-austerity and anti-racist protests of the Obama era, and, of course, the Arab Spring of 2011. But it was, above all, a reaction to the financial crisis that hit this country in 2008."
  • "In my own view, it really came down to the underlying question of power. Occupy was able to exhibit disruptive power, people power in the streets. What it wasn’t able to do was construct a durable coalition out of that. "
  • "“It created a space”, “The crisis gave an opening to the Left”, “Even opposition movements will be branded”, “In principle, everybody could participate”"
  • "There was no international organizational structure, no elected board or leadership, but there was a shared interest and a shared struggle that led people to conceive of themselves as part of an international movement. "
  • "International connections were critical to the emergence of the occupations, but Zuccotti Park, Puerta del Sol, and Syntagma Square were distinct sites of protest, with diverse origins, dynamics, and logics of development."
  • "The protesters themselves have also criticized the media — first for ostensibly ignoring the movement and then for marginalizing it."
  • "Lacking a list of demands or recognized leaders, the Occupy movement has at times perplexed the nation’s media outlets. Press coverage, minimal in the first days of the occupation in New York, picked up after amateur video surfaced online showing a police officer using pepper spray on protesters. "
  • "An analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates that the movement occupied 10 percent of its sample of national news coverage in the week beginning Oct. 9, then steadily represented about 5 percent through early November."
  • "The absence of broad media attention initially gave protesters a shared grievance. There is The Occupied Wall Street Journal newspaper, for instance, and the “We Are the 99 Percent” group blog."
  • "Mr. Bruner, the Occupy Wall Street organizer, echoed that. Early on, he courted CNN, The New York Times and other news outlets by e-mailing reporters and editors with daily protest updates. But, he said, “we’re fighting a system, and this media is a part of the system"
  • "He added, ”And when this media doesn’t cover us in a fair light, the desire isn’t to shame them, it’s to create an alternative.”"
  • "Hundreds of protestors converged on the New York Stock Exchange Monday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement. "
  • "For many present, the celebration reawakened an energy they had not felt since the protest was officially evicted from New York’s Zuccotti Park last November."
  • "While Occupy Wall Street may not have produced any direct effect on economic policy, it has contributed to a resurgence in activism which youth should not hesitate to take advantage of."
  • " It never presented a formal list of demands because it intentionally avoided the hierarchy necessary to generate and deliver those demands."
  • "College students have traditionally been the driving force behind activism in the United States, and with the advent of the Occupy Movement, we have the tools to continue in this tradition. "
  • "Occupy Wall Street prepared America; if we have something to say, more people than ever will perhaps be listening."
  • "The huge mass of different Occupy groups never stopped meeting and planning throughout the winter — even if Occupy’s public presence diminished."
  • "Much of this planning has been about a spring resurgence, recognizing the importance of being out on the streets, and that this can only really kick off in reasonable weather."
  • "The big focus point for a lot of people is May Day. A general strike has been called by a host of Occupy groups hoping to use the date as an anchor to build momentum and get people excited."
  • "Occupiers from around the country will go to the summit, as will summit-hopping anarchists from around the world. Summit protests are always explosive."
  • " With the added context of Occupy Wall Street, I can’t imagine what will happen in Chicago. Expect some heavy-handed policing, that’s for certain."
  • "I think when spring comes around and Occupy really kicks off again, the publications who did not leave it for dead will be proven right."
  • "Monday marks the 7th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a community in the truest sense."
  • " Throngs of intelligent and diverse people lived together in Zuccotti Park, in a somewhat utopian, communal society. The Occupied Wall Street Journal. The energy was welcoming, organically grassroots and emotionally intoxicating "
  • "With the wins of Democratic Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other progressive candidates, we are seeing the themes of Occupy Wall Street once again, as campaign slogans that are galvanizing voters and shaping public sentiment."
  • "The movement never wanted nor intended to walk through the halls of political power, but years later, it’s spirit lives on, ubiquitously influencing the national progressive agenda and perhaps dominating elections in the future."
  • " I’ll always recall a sign when the protesters were getting kicked out of the park, it said: “You Cannot Evict An Idea.” How true that still is today."