Several years ago, in the United States of America and some other Western European countries began mass demonstrations of citizens dissatisfied with the socio-economic situation in their countries. In the USA, those nonviolent movements were named “Occupy Wall Street”. Most of them are quite peaceful and nonviolent. Moreover, they are organized without any illegal actions on the part of protesters. Demonstrators are trying to implement their democratic rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and associations. All of them are guaranteed by some international treaties and agreements, including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
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However, the reaction of the U. S. authorities was not always peaceful. In most cases, a disproportionate police force was used. News channels regularly show scenes of a brutal dispersal of tent camps and peaceful protesters. It becomes obvious that authorities do not always act in accordance with the countries’ laws. No doubt, the force against protesters is not enough to fight the wave of social disagreement in the country. Thus, the main aim of the paper is to investigate nonviolent Wall Street protests. Besides, the history and future of those demonstrations would be analyzed.
Occupy Wall Street is an act of civil protest in New York, which first took place in September 2011 and continues up to the present. The protesters’ main purpose is to occupy the financial center of New York in order to attract public attention to the “crimes of the financial elite”. It is also aimed to change the structure of the country’s economy. Some also protested against the death of Troy Davis who was executed in Georgia, in September 2011.
The movement has no clearly defined leader. The idea belongs to a Canadian non-profit and anti-consumerist organization, Adbusters. Anonymous also provide active support. In September 2011, demonstrators also got public approval among several major unions, including a transport workers union which counts more than 40,000 members. RT. Question More (2011) stated:
Wednesday night saw The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee unanimously voted in favor to lend their support to the thousands of protesters that have been gathering in Lower Manhattan to wage a peaceful protest against Wall Street for weeks now. The union collective, which oversees the transit workers in the city of New York, has a membership of nearly 40,000. Additionally, SEIU 32BJ, the NYC-based union that represents doormen and security workers, will be using an upcoming rally to also voice their alliance to the thousands that have been gathering in Liberty Park Plaza, just a stone’s throw from both the Federal Reserve and Wall Street, Manhattan."Labor is up against the wall and they're begging us to help them," Jackie DiSalvo, an Occupy Wall Street protester, tells the Huffington Post. She adds that recent actions waged by fellow protesters to show support of organized labor has managed to help land the unions on their side.
On September 30, 2011, members of the movement marched near the headquarters of the New York Police Department. More than 1,000 people were holding banners criticizing the police. The protest was held after the police had sprayed four women with tear gas. The video immediately became very popular among Internet users. After that, many demonstrators decided to “stand to the end”.
On October 1, 2011, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators and members of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. October 4, 2011, three protesters were locked up in Boston on suspicion of drug dealing. Furthermore, participants were accused of offenses such as arson, murder, rape, theft, and vandalism. As of January 2012, more than 6000 people have been arrested since the beginning of demonstrations. Schneider (2011) asserted:
Few reports mentioned that while the 700 protesters were waiting to be arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge, they sat down, sang songs, recited chants and held a discussion about dispelling fear. When the first arrest videos went viral, it was rarely noticed that protesters were arrested while committing conscious acts of civil disobedience: holding down an illicit tarp that was protecting equipment from the rain, continuing a speech about having courage after being ordered to stop, writing the word “love” on the sidewalk in chalk. (Some later incidents of mass arrest took place less purposefully, and less on the protesters’ terms.)
On demonstrations, different segments of people were present, including men in suits, retirees, students, and even punks. Mass meetings took place in Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago. Furthermore, it is planned to organize them in Washington, Detroit, Portland, Minneapolis, Baltimore and some other cities. Protesters are dissatisfied that the country’s major banks got assistance from the government during the financial crisis while the middle class had to deal with their problems on their own. There were a lot of slogans, claiming to “close the Federal Reserve Bank” and “make Wall Street a Tahrir square” (where the Egyptian revolution had started).
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Participants are dissatisfied with the modern financial system, which, in their view, represents only the interests of big corporations and wealthy individuals. People oppose the financial support of the major corporations, banks as well as economic inequality of men. They represent the interests of 99% of the U.S. population and demand to redistribute the wealth between the richest 1% and the other 99% of Americans. “We are the 99%” has already become a very popular slogan among protesters. The movement condemns the capitalist system and believes that it is the cause of all problems as well as injustices in the modern world. Protestants want their grievance and demands to be heard as soon as possible. They believe that the government has a moral obligation to provide the same access to education, as well as other high standards of living and privileges. In general, “Occupy Wall Street” is the extreme left movement fighting against the capitalist world and its values.
According to the Congressional Budget Office report, the revenues of 1% grew on average by 275% from 1927 to 2007 (Pear, 2011). However, the income of the American middle class grew only by 40%.
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Johnston (2007) claimed, “The analysis by the two professors showed that the top 10 percent of Americans collected 48.5 percent of all reported income in 2005. The top 1 percent received 21.8 percent of all reported income in 2005, up significantly from 19.8 percent the year before and more than double their share of income in 1980. The peak was in 1928 when the top 1 percent reported 23.9 percent of all income”.
The income disparity is another topical problem facing modern America. According to Hiltzik (2011), “Meanwhile, the income disparity between the top earners and everyone else has soared. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 1980 the share of all pre-tax income collected by the top 1% of earners was 9.1%; in 2006 it was 18.8% (federal tax cut that shares to 16.3%). In 1980, the average income of the top 1% was about 30 times that of the lowest 20% of households; in 2006 it was more than 100 times that of the lowest quintile”.
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Protesters have different political views. There are liberals, anarchists, socialists, libertarians and even defenders of the environment. Previously, the majority of protesters were young Americans because they frequently used different social networking sites where propaganda news could be easily found. As demonstrations became more spread, older people started to attend them. There were also a lot of representatives of various religious groups, including Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
Demonstrations against social inequality took place in more than 80 countries in the world. According to the organizers, they coordinated their actions through different social networks. In New Zealand demonstrated more than 3000 people, in Australia – 2000. In Tokyo, opponents of nuclear power also joined the march. In South Korea activists intended to occupy the square of the city. Other protests were also held in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and other major Canadian cities. In London, protesters intended to capture the City. In Athens, demonstrators took the central square in front of the parliament. In Frankfurt, they held a meeting near the European Central Bank. Police and other special forces are still on full alert.
Montopoli (2011) stated, “Forty-three percent of Americans agree with the views of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, according to the new CBS News/New York Times poll that found a widespread belief that money and wealth should be distributed more evenly in America”.
In March 17, 2012, demonstrators tried to organize the six-month anniversary of their meetings. They again took Zukotti Park. However, protesters were quickly dispersed by the police. Seventy people were arrested.
Demonstrators also get substantial financial support. Goodale (2011) asserted:
“The vast majority of those giving have incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range,” he says. The median donation amount is $22, while the average rises to $60, which shows that there are a few “very large donations sending the average amount higher,” adds Mr. Clerico. To date, his company has processed more than $325,000 in donations to Occupy Wall Street. Wepay is releasing its latest data on Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday. The money, he says, comes from 37 countries.
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Today, many people state that the movement has almost exhausted. The U.S. press named it “fads”. It would be a footnote in the history books if gets a mention at all. Supporters of the “Occupy Wall Street” claim that it has the future. However, there is a prevailing opinion in the media that its best days have already passed. Experts explain that demonstrations are the total failure because there is no definite program as well as a leader. Sorkin (2012) stated:
That is not to say that Occupy Wall Street had no impact. It created an important national conversation about economic inequality and upward mobility. The chant, “We are the 99 percent,” has become part of the lexicon. Its message has subtly been woven throughout the Obama administration’s re-election campaign, in the Democrats’ position on everything from taxes on the highest earners to the soaring levels of student debt. But consider this: Has the debate over breaking up the banks that were too big to fail, save for a change of heart by the former chairman of Citigroup, Sanford I. Weill, really changed or picked up steam as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No. Have any new regulations for banks or businesses been enacted as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No. Has there been any new meaningful push to put Wall Street executives behind bars as a result of Occupy Wall Street? No.
By despising politicians and corporations, protestors also isolated themselves from the outside world. Moreover, they communicate only with each other. At the same time, the conservative Tea Party joined the political process. Two years ago, they sent 87 its supporters to the Congress. “Occupiers” have sent any.
Some say, if their primary goal was to abolish capitalism, thus, they could with the same success demand canceling the gravity. Protesters would never see the police imprisoning Wall Street tycoons.
However, protesters state that slogans of Obama’s campaign are very similar to their demands. For example, Barack calls the richest citizens to raise taxes.
Demonstrators unsuccessfully asked people to take their money from big banks and put them in little ones. However, they claim that they made a giant Bank of America, as well as some other big banks not to abandon charging money for the debit cards use.
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The last 20th century clearly showed that the performance of their demagogic claims is impossible. Wherever one could seize the private property and transfer it to the state, sooner or later it led to the economic collapse. These requirements do not take into account the desire of most people to build a better life. The movement wants the government’s handouts, not giving anything in return.
One more reason proving that the movement has no future is that protesters have different ideologies. There is a strong belief in radical ideas, propagandized by the left politics. Expressing dissatisfaction with the economic situation in the country, protesters show a shocking ignorance of taxation, employment rate, job creation and other reasons for the worsening economic situation in the USA. The thing is that demonstrators have vague ideas about socialism and communism.
When one of the protesters had been asked about the interest rate, fair for the country, he answered nothing. Unfortunately, nobody could answer the question properly. Though, all of them persistently and firmly insisted on the abolition of tax restrictions adopted by Bush.
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Recently, on the Internet appeared a very interesting video. It was a conversation of a man with a middle-aged woman. The man approached an elderly woman holding a placard condemning capitalism and glorifying socialism. He asked her to explain the differences in economies of North and South Korea. The woman was very surprised by the question. Furthermore, it seemed she had never heard about the existence of these two states. The questioner started to talk about all the “benefits” of life under socialism. A few minutes later, he was interrupted and asked how he knew all that. He said that most of his life he had spent in the USSR and experienced all “charms” of socialism. The interest of the crowd to him immediately disappeared.
One non-profit news organization made a very interesting experiment in New York. In the center of the “Occupy” camp was set a table covered with lists of employment in various prestigious organizations and companies. The reaction of the protesters was quite unexpected. Some of them said they did not want to work for the military witchcraft. Others rejected with indignation the opportunity to work in banks and firms. They simply did not want wealthy people to become richer. One woman said that she was a single mother with two children and preferred to be on welfare and get benefits than work. Most of the protesters stated that employment would never solve the problem.
Furthermore, radical leftist movement in one way or another is infected with a “Semitism” bacillus. Protesters are constantly using the following anti – Semitic slogans during their demonstrations, such as:
- Jews, representing a small ethnic group, seized almost all major banks and post-fund managers on Wall Street;
- Jews control the media and the country's finances and dominate American politics;
- Almost all federal judges on the East and West Coasts, as well as in many other cities and states of the country were Jews;
- Russian Jews Billionaires are trying to take over the country.
- Zionist Jews working in big banks and the Federal Reserve should be expelled from the country;
- Jews commit more crimes than members of any other ethnic group;
- Whenever there is a billionaire fraud, it involves a Jew.
Thus, it is not a secret that the economic situation has greatly deteriorated in the USA. Almost all of Obama’s economic programs have failed. As a result, a lot of Americans started to feel insecure and fear. It is evident that it is the best time for radicals to capture power in the country. Today, the radical lefts are against millionaires and billionaires. They are calling for a more equitable distribution of wealth, and all the country’s problems transfer to 1% of its population. It is obvious that it is only a matter of time when this propaganda would provoke people to theft, robbery, assault and beating others.