Monday, October 03, 2011

Occupying Wall Street, demanding accountability


By Alan Silverleib, CNN
updated 9:29 PM EST, Mon October 3, 2011
Demonstrators with "Occupy Wall Street" participate in a march dressed as "corporate zombies" in New York on Monday.

Occupy Wall Street is a protest movement covering a range of issues, with no clear leadership
Many of the protesters are upset with growing wealth divide in the United States
Nobody's being held accountable, one protester complains
It's too soon to clearly label the movement, Stanford sociologist Susan Olzak says
Editor's note: Are you participating in the protests? Share your photos and video with CNN iReport.

(CNN) -- Hero Vincent has a dream: to see the titans of Wall Street trade their palatial office suites for a row of dank prison cells.
The crime? Theft. Stealing billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded bailouts. Getting rich on your dime while you struggle to make ends meet.
And if you're tired of standing by while the rich get richer and the middle class crumbles, he has a suggestion: Take it to the streets.
Vincent, 21 and unemployed, has suddenly become one of several unofficial spokesmen for Occupy Wall Street, a leaderless protest movement made largely of twenty-somethings upset with the state of the economy, the state of the war in Afghanistan, the state of the environment, and the state of America and the world in general.
If that sounds vague, it's meant to be. In less than three weeks, the movement has become a magnet for countless disaffected Americans. And at a time when an overwhelming majority of Americans say the country's on the wrong track, there's no shortage of new potential recruits.
Photos: 'Occupy Wall Street' protests
On Saturday, more than 700 protesters were arrested for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. A splinter group called Occupy Chicago touted a "huge afternoon march." In Boston, 34 groups -- unions and other organizations focused on everything from foreclosure prevention to climate change -- marched for "an economy that works for all of us," according to one website.
Over on the West Coast, Occupy Los Angeles kicked off with a march to City Hall. In Seattle, demonstrators touted "a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors (and) genders."

'Occupy Wall Street' protests spread
On Monday, a live video feed from Occupy Wall Street was featured at the start of a three-day conference of progressive leaders in Washington.
What does it all mean?
"We're here for different reasons," said Vincent, whose father is also unemployed and recently went through a home foreclosure. "But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing, and that's accountability. We want accountability for the connection between Wall Street and the politicians."
"Something has to change," he told CNN. "We're out here because we're tired of what's been going on."
Giles Clarke, a 46-year-old freelance photographer and father of two, echoes Vincent's call for greater accountability.
"People have simply had enough," Clarke said. "We're living in an age where the inequality between high-end Wall Street and the (rest of us) is simply a gap that has become too big. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Millions of people have lost their homes."
There's been, Clarke said, "way too much cloak-and-dagger activity within the corridors of Wall Street" in recent years. "This is about raising awareness and a change of political discourse."
The average person, according to Vincent, "is just fed up because there's no more middle class. The margin between us and the employers is so great now. Where will we be in a couple of years?"
Does he actually want to occupy Wall Street and shut it down?
"We want to educate people," Vincent said. But "if Wall Street actually shuts down, we'll be happy about it."
The movement "feels like something that will ultimately spread like the Arab spring," said Egberto Willies, a CNN iReporter in Washington. "I call it the American autumn."
Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots have clear strains of liberal economic populism -- a powerful force in U.S. history during various times characterized by growing economic stress. That said, it could be a mistake to label or tie the movement to a specific agenda, said Susan Olzak, a Stanford University sociology professor.
"It's difficult to classify a social protest movement early on in its history," Olzak told CNN. "Clearer goals could eventually emerge, but there's no guarantee."
"Many movements fizzle out. Others become more organized," she said. But "I think we run a risk (by) taking a snapshot at any one point in time, and trying to categorize the movement in any one way based on that snapshot. The only way to study these protest movements is to follow them over time."
If Vincent, Willies and Clarke have their way, there will be plenty of time for this movement to continue to grow and evolve. Some observers question if it could become a liberal counterweight to the conservative populism of the tea party.
For his part, Clarke predicts the movement will go international in the next few months.
"Let's get talking," he urged. "Let's have some of these issues looked at."
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CNN's Greg Botelho and Maggie Lake contributed to this report.
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Blogger comment:
The economic system of the west is not working, it does just try to serve the rich and elites. For the economic system to work the very rich should not control politicians and policies. See how Bush and his co took us for wars for oil companies and oil Gulf tyrants. Then he and Obama bailed out the wall street rich guys. Obama was a big joke a change we are waiting for. Bush was a big joke freedom to his friends the tyrants and big oil guys. If Obama or bush believed in democracy they would have let me talk to the media years ago or have the real number of hits in my website. They can not handle the truth. They were afraid that I will bring down the tyrants many of them are their friends look at the photos of Bush and Obama before the tyrant fall and see when a tyrant is about to fall they stand with the people so they take the credit and to be sure to have a say on who will govern us next. It is not about America or the American people it is about the elites and imperialism. It is time for us to have better living conditions and more security to our health and pensions. It is time for new system not the falling one of Europe and America. It is the time of the young guys from everywhere to make their world and not the old players who controlled the world for decades.

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