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December 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Protests Continue

by The Centinal

By Abrar Al-Heeti – Staff Writer

With every passing day, the Occupy Wall Street movement is growing in strength, receiving more attention from those who support and oppose it alike. In a struggle to have their voices heard, protesters have been demonstrating against social and economic inequality, high unemployment, corruption and the influence corporations have on government.

After becoming fed-up with the continually increasing difference in wealth between the richest 1% of Americans and the remainder of the population, the activist group began the demonstrations in New York City’s Wall Street financial district, adopting “We are the 99%” as their slogan, which refers to the plight of the average American. Wall Street was chosen as the destination for the protests because of its role in causing the 2008 economic crisis which led to the Great Recession; protesters claim that the lending of mortgage-backed securities that were in fact proved to be worthless brought on the crisis, and Wall Street abused the credit default swap market. The movement also expresses hostility towards the government bailout, claiming it established a sense of ownership, overstepping the roles of the supposedly independent sectors of business and government.

The goals of those participating in the movement include a more equal distribution of income, more jobs, bank reform, and less influence on politics from corporations.

Some criticize that the movement has no unified motive, and that each demonstrator has a different goal and reason for protesting. But despite this lack of agreement, some feel as Greg Stock does when he says, “I think it’s interesting that people are to the point where they’re fed up enough to hit the streets.” It is the fact that people are reacting, regardless of the varying reasons, that has caught worldwide attention. When Stock was asked if he believed the movement would bring any change, he answered, “No,” but added, “I think it brings awareness. This problem has existed, but no one has acted upon it.”

An aspect of the movement that has received a lot of attention is the aggression between cops and protesters. The police’s use of pepper spray and their practice of beating rowdy protesters has sent shockwaves across the country. Many believe that by committing these actions, cops are violating the protesters’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech.

Support for the movement is widespread. Like many Americans, Stock says, “I share their concerns.” They hope Occupy Wall Street will bring positive change in the way money and politics are handled.

But, as with all other movements, there are those who disapprove of Occupy Wall Street. Some see it as too liberal and a threat to America’s free market capitalism, in which they see no flaw. They believe the change protesters are fighting for will not in fact improve the economy or the situation many jobless Americans find themselves in.

As the movement grows, Occupy Wall Street will continue to receive the attention of those who support, oppose and are neutral to the cause. Whether or not it will bring any change remains, for the time being, a mystery.

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