The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest is entering its 4th week in lower Manhattan and spreading nationwide, inspiring similar gatherings in other US cities and drawing sympathy and support from various sectors of the American society.
The movement that started in New York’s financial district on September 17th by a group of activists to protest against social inequality and denounce corporate greed continues to attract trade-union workers, university students, politicians, actors and other celebrities.
The similarity between the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement and the Arab Spring is being stressed by both participants in the streets and US media. The protest is fuelled mainly by the frustration of people who are unemployed, underemployed or facing various forms of financial difficulties.
A visit to the demonstration site in Zuccotti Park near the Financial District in New York City shows that, like the Arab Spring, this movement grew out of that kind of disillusionment and anger. Protesters feel the injustice of seeing a small percentage of Americans getting richer while most of the people are getting poorer.
Related web pages contain testimonials of the kind of people who are behind this movement and those who will join them, if the movement is going to spread even further, as many observers expect.
Lin Wefel, a visiting protester from Indiana, held up a paper at the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest saying “Arab Spring, European Summer, American Fall.” She was not sure, however, which one of the first two influenced The American Autumn that began on September 17th.
“It’s hard to say. I think this is the right time for this to happen. We are all in the same book, on the same page. It’s a continuation, actually, we are all connected.I try to do my best to make a small foot print,” she told KUNA during the protest staged by some 300 people from all walks of life, from students to labour unionists to hippies.
Lin’s message to US politicians and bankers is “stop stealing our money, stop lying, stop killing people on the other side of the planet. That’s not what America is about.”
Asked if the protesters will achieve their goal, she said “more and more people are now paying attention, may be only because they are being hit in their pocket book. A big shift is occurring. I expect from what I’ve seen that this is like a snow ball gathering more snow as it goes.”
She said she is disappointed in President Barack Obama’s policy because she thought the US would change faster with him. Nevertheless, she added, she will vote for him in the next presidential elections, because “I see what the alternative is,” in reference to the republicans who always support the rich.
Another protester, who gave only in first name Dan, told KUNA “it’s an important protest, but it has got bad press coverage. A lot of Americans are upset with the tax structure and with the concentration of wealth and power at the very top level of society. As a blue-collar worker, I am taxed at a higher percentage than a Wall Street trader.”
He predicted that the protests will eventually achieve something. “Something will have to happen because the system is not sustainable. I don’t know how long these protests will last, but I don’t think people are just going to forget what they are upset about. I hope we will keep protesting, putting pressure on politicians who need to regulate banks,” he said.
Dan and other protesters are confident that their voices will be heard by politicians, especially that the next presidential elections are just one year away.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) said it has already spent some 2 million in overtime pay to provide protection for the protesters, and the bill will grow even higher as they continue to camp.
No mass arrests were made in the last few days, it noted, and protests went mostly peaceful.