Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street ( English for "Occupied Wall Street"; abbreviated also OWS ) was the largest protest movement in North America from October 15, 2011, stimulated by the rapidly spreading worldwide calls on the Internet in the wake of the protests in Spain 2011/2012 , the Arab Spring and the Canadian Adbusters Media Foundation . Kalle Lasn , founder of Adbusters , and his editor-in-chief Micah White initiated the first actions via social networks in June 2011. As a result, Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan in New York City was occupied by demonstrators and temporarily renamed again to the former name Liberty Plaza Park a tent village built on it. This was specifically with reference to the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt during the Arab Spring . At the same time, Adbuster registered OccupyWallStreet.org as the associated web address. The campaign, initially limited to subscribers to Adbusters magazine, spread around the world. The movement's central demands were greater political control over the banking and financial sectors, a reduction in the influence of the economy on political decisions, and a reduction in social inequality between rich and poor. Like the movement, the park occupation had influential advocates from the start, including Nancy Pelosi , Michael Bloomberg, and the economists Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph E. Stiglitz .
The movement began with a call on September 17, 2011 to fill Zuccotti Park with tents:
“#OCCUPYWALLSTREET. Are you ready for a Tahrir moment? On Sept 17, flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street. "
"#OCCUPYWALLSTREET. Are you ready for a Tahrir moment? Stream to Lower Manhattan on September 17th, building tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupying Wall Street. "
On July 9th the blog occupywallstreet.org was registered anonymously by the Adbusters Media Foundation and on July 14th the domain occupywallst.org was registered anonymously. The activist Alexa O'Brien got involved in the preparations with her project of a US Day of Rage relatively early on, and on August 23, the hacker collective Anonymous announced that it wanted to support the action. Starting on August 2, weekly meetings of a "General Assembly" (GA, "General Assembly") took place, in which all - without building a hierarchy - met who wanted to prepare the occupation of Wall Street based on consensus. Also involved in these meetings was a group called "New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts", which had previously carried out a three-week occupation campaign, alluding to the then incumbent Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg , Called Bloombergville .
Start of the protests
When the actual protests began on September 17, around 1,000 people attended on the first day. The New York police initially prohibited setting up tents in Zucotti Park ; later she allowed it. Mayor Bloomberg had previously said at a press conference:
“People have the right to protest, and if they want to protest we like to make sure they find a place to do so. As long as they do it where the rights of others are respected, this is the place where people can say what they think. And that's what New York makes New York be. "
Pepper spray incident
The following week, some media outlets covered the ongoing protests, including the Guardian and the New York Times . Overall, the media coverage was initially restrained until several incidents occurred on September 24th: on that day a group of demonstrators moved north towards Union Square and blocked some streets. The police then arrested 80 demonstrators; Several groups of demonstrators were trapped with orange nets - a police tactic that is similar to the German police cauldron.
Under circumstances that were portrayed differently by police and demonstrators, one of the police officers used pepper spray against women in a small group of people who were fenced off . This mission, documented by videos (you can see one of the women collapsing screaming), was the subject of heavy criticism in the media. After further videos emerged, which in particular showed a police officer who repeatedly used pepper spray without any justifying circumstances being recognizable on the videos, an investigation was initiated against him. This was possible after the name of the officer in question was made known with the help of Anonymous .
In response to these incidents, the Anonymous group threatened to attack New York Police’s websites if further attacks were heard in the next 36 hours, although the starting time of this “ultimatum” was not clear.
Blockade of the Brooklyn Bridge
Over 700 arrests were made on October 1, 2011 after a group of protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge . According to the police, the demonstrators had left the pedestrian walkway and had been warned several times by the police that continuing on the road would result in arrests. Protesters said they had been escorted onto the road by the police and had received no warning.
From a report by the Guardian and the statements made there by participants in the demonstration, a group of demonstrators initially appears to have entered the carriageway, where they encountered a police chain and were warned. With the shout “Take the bridge!” This group of demonstrators pushed on, whereupon the police gave up the resistance and preceded the march on the bridge. The demonstrators coming further back would not have heard the warning and could actually have got the impression that the police had released or even directed the train across the bridge. After a large number of demonstrators were on the bridge, the train was stopped. Those on the bridge were prevented from retreating and were gradually arrested. Because arrests and evacuation took a long time, traffic over the Brooklyn Bridge came to a standstill for several hours. The 700 or so arrested were distributed to several police stations and after their personal details had been established, the majority were released with a court summons.
The largest demonstration to date took place on October 5, with the support and participation of numerous unions. The estimates of the number of participants range between 5,000 and 15,000. The demonstration moved from Foley Square to Zuccotti Park and was peaceful, with clashes with the police only in the evening when individual demonstrators tried to penetrate the cordoned off areas of Wall Street. Pepper spray was used again and individual demonstrators were arrested.
Seriously injured in Oakland
On October 25, the police went in California's Oakland with tear gas and bean-bag ammunition against demonstrators, as they tried to indemnify a previously cleared area. Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old protester suffered a traumatic brain injury , was unconscious for twelve hours and required intensive care. According to the protesters, the Iraq veteran , who had been peaceful during the demonstration, was hit in the head by a tear gas canister. The Iraq Veterans Against the War association spoke of a "police projectile". California Congresswoman Barbara Lee called the police's actions an overreaction and announced an independent investigation. There was a vigil in Oakland and a solidarity rally in New York. As a result, the protests in Oakland escalated to the point of the temporary closure of the industrial port there, which was occupied by several thousand demonstrators on November 2nd.
Numerous Occupy groups took part in "Move Your Money" campaigns, in which citizens transferred their balances at commercial banks, which had become unpopular due to the financial crisis, to accounts of credit unions. a. at Bank Transfer Day on November 5th, 2011 ( Guy Fawkes Night ), symbolic of Occupyer .
In the fall of 2012, a group of OWS activists began the Rolling Jubilee campaign , in which over- indebted private individuals were bought out cheaply with donations of over US $ 590,000 in debt , thereby paying off almost US $ 12 million in debt. Eric T. Hansen praised this as the most sensible action by OWS.
Numerous Occupy camps took in homeless people and were therefore their winter quarters in 2011/12.
Evictions from protest camps and Day of Action
In November, the police cleared protest camps, first in Portland and Oakland, and on the night of November 15, 2011, the one on which the movement was based in New York's Zuccotti Park. The authorities justified their actions with intolerable hygienic conditions and with crimes that had been committed in the camps. According to those involved, police in New York pushed camera crews away from journalists, used tear gas and destroyed the property of demonstrators. On the same day, the activists returned, who had been banned from sleeping with camping equipment but not from entering the park. Nobel laureate in economics, Paul Krugman , even assessed the eviction, which attracted renewed media attention, as a success for the Occupy movement , which had also been saved from the prospect of losing popularity in its central camp with the onset of winter.
Two days later, exactly two months after the initial occupation of Zuccotti Park and still under the impression of his recent eviction, the activists one called Day of Action (German: Action Day or Day of action ) and tried, among other things, access to New York Blocking the stock exchange , a project the police prevented. There were at least 250 arrests and violent clashes, in which the New York police also cracked down on journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists was critical of and concerned about the obstruction of reporting by the arrests of their colleagues. Protests were largely peaceful in other American cities.
“Against approaches like the Occupy movement, the state power, especially in the USA, acted with a martial threat of control that I would not have thought possible. I saw it myself in New York. That is the practiced state extension of authoritarian capitalism. And the signal to young people in particular is clear: “Don't move! Otherwise you'll get in real trouble. ""
Police attack at the University of California
On November 18, 2011, at the University of California at Davis , two police officers used pepper spray to attack peaceful demonstrators from closer than the recommended distance in order to force them to give up a sit-in. Eleven demonstrators had to be treated on the spot, two in hospital. The incident was filmed and quickly became known worldwide via the Internet. The two police officers and their supervisor were suspended, and the university director, Linda PB Katehi , apologized to the students for the incident.
Claims and reception
The movement has not formulated any specific demands for itself, which journalists and politicians often justify with the complexity of the problematic. Therefore, among other things, she is accused of a lack of purposefulness. The demands that have become known, such as those for higher taxes for the wealthy or a financial transaction tax , are rather formulations by individuals (here, for example, from the statements of Joseph E. Stiglitz ) that the participants in the protests more or less shared become. This also applies to lists of claims posted on occupywallst.org.
Another demand that has become particularly popular is that President Barack Obama should set up a commission to find out what influence money has on political representatives in Washington. This demand was published on the Adbusters website along with the Occupy Wall Street appeal. However, that does not make it a requirement of the movement. Such an “official” list of demands could only be formulated by the “General Assembly”, and several bloggers in direct contact with the demonstrations have emphasized that there is no such thing.
The later Federal President Joachim Gauck viewed the criticism of capitalism by the Occupy movement against the background of the nationalized banking system of the GDR with skepticism. Referring to his experience in the GDR as a state where the banks were occupied , he found it doubtful to believe that deposits would be safer if politics dictated the financial economy.
Media of movement
The movement gained public awareness after US President Obama was questioned about it at a press conference.
Modern technology and new media are used extensively by the movement. The coordination takes place via quickly installed websites, networks and social media such as Facebook and Twitter . Laptops and other electronic devices are widely used. Because of this, the credibility of the movement has already been questioned: “OWS [Occupy Wall Street] consists of reasonably well-off, mostly young whites who pretend to be victims. Young people with iPhones that cost $ 100 a month, expensive cameras and designer clothes ... "
At the daily assemblies ( asambleas ) on the Liberty Plaza, however, (acoustic) technology must be avoided: the city administration has prohibited the use of amplifiers and megaphones . The demonstrators use a technology called "Human Microphone" to allow communication to take place anyway. Every contribution made by an individual is repeated by a speaking choir so that it can be understood throughout the square. Michael Moore also used this technique when speaking to the demonstrators. The “Human Microphone” offers advantages: The slower presentation method makes it easier to follow the speaker's flow of speech.
Occupied Wall Street Journal
The media used by the demonstrators to communicate their points of view and their situation includes their own newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal , which first appeared on October 1 with a circulation of 50,000, funded by donations from journalists from Indypendent , a New York internet publication as part of Indymedia .
"We are the 99 percent"
In addition, in connection with occupywallst.org under the slogan “We are the 99 percent” (“We are the 99 percent”) a Tumblr site was launched that collected over 1200 posts by mid-October, each from a photo There are signs or pieces of paper in which someone describes their situation, whereby a number of topics come up again and again: loss of work and home, lack of health insurance and lack of prospects for academically educated people who are simultaneously burdened with high education loans. The slogan then appears at the end of the text. “We are the 99 percent” became the slogan of the “Occupy” protests both internationally and in German-speaking countries.
The Anonymous group committed to the project at an early stage.
Already on September 17, the first day of the protests, the actress said Roseanne Barr with on the Liberty Plaza congregation. Actress Susan Sarandon also attended the protesters, and rapper Immortal Technique was seen frequently in the plaza. On September 26, activist and filmmaker Michael Moore came to Liberty Plaza, gave a speech and expressed great expectations about the future significance of these protests: “A hundred years from now it will be remembered that you came to this square and this movement have launched. " Spike Lee , Barbara Ehrenreich and Slavoj Zizek also spoke before the demonstrators in New York.
The globalization critic Naomi Klein gave a speech that briefly failed because of the lack of opportunities for acoustic amplification and in a longer version in there on October 6, The Nation and in the Occupied Wall Street Journal and in a German translation in the Swiss weekly newspaper appeared. Klein compared Occupy Wall Street with the anti-globalization protests that prevented the 3rd WTO conference in Seattle in 1999 . Thanks to its non-violence, Occupy Wall Street could last longer than the protests at the time and would come at a more propitious time. In addition to financial policy demands, fundamental social values would have to be changed. She could not pack this into a single effective media formulation, but was impressed by the culture of mutual sympathy among the demonstrators.
Stéphane Hessel , author of the essay Outrage! , explained in an interview with Democracy Now! his support for the protest in New York City. In Graz he spoke to the demonstrators at a rally on the occasion of the international day of action on October 15, referring directly to the slogan "We are the 99 percent", which originated in the United States .
Prominent scholars also support the protests, such as the Nobel Prize winners in economics Joseph E. Stiglitz and Paul Krugman , the linguist Noam Chomsky and the philosopher Slavoj Žižek , the literary scholar Judith Butler , the intellectual Cornel West and the economist Richard D. Wolff , who each joined the demonstrators languages. The thesis of the economist Simon Johnson of the "silent coup" with which the financial industry took power in the United States is seen as a further justification for the protests. The social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein describes the Occupy Wall Street movement as "the most important political event in the USA since the uprisings of 1968" and sees in it its direct continuation. She is endangered both by attacks by the political right and by her own success and is in the difficult position of formulating her views between the poles of sectarianism and the breakup. It could both contribute to a short-term change in American government policy and change the way American society thinks in the long term. If it fails, it has already left a lasting legacy.
Theoretical, albeit unintentional, underpinning the Occupy movement's criticism of the dominant role of the financial industry is provided by a study by ETH Zurich presented in 2011 , which carried out evaluations of an OECD economic database from 2007. From information on 37 million companies and investors worldwide, it was possible to identify 43,000 internationally active companies. Within this group it could be shown that only 147 companies, predominantly from the banking and financial sector, control more than 40 percent of the multinational turnover, calculated according to turnover.
In addition to artists and scientists, the trade unions, including the Amalgamated Transit Union , Transport Workers Union Local 100, and the United Federation of Teachers, are an important source of support . In addition, the Transport Workers Union of Greater New York has protested that its members have been ordered to transport the numerous arrests of October 1 from the Brooklyn Bridge. She filed a corresponding lawsuit and motion for an injunction, but these were dismissed.
There is still support from users of Bitcoin , a project that aims to introduce decentralized electronic money that is beyond the influence of banks and payment service providers such as PayPal and the disadvantages of credit-based currencies.
Although New York remains the center of the protests, there are now similar demonstrations in numerous US cities. Reports and videos will be collected on the newly launched Occupy Together website . As of October 12, 2011, there were communities in 1,399 cities, including outside of the United States, but not all of those cities had promotions. Usually these are only in the planning phase or groups are in the first phases of formation.
The following table lists cities in the United States that have received press reports of actions by the Occupy Wall Street movement:
|Baltimore , McKeldin Square||Occupy Baltimore||Occupation, demonstrations||4th October 2011||occupybmore.org|
|Boston , Dewey Square||Occupy Boston||occupation||September 28, 2011||occupyboston.com||
Chicago , corner of LaSalle Street and
|Occupy Chicago||Occupation, demonstrations||occupychi.org||
|New York City , Zuccotti Park||Occupy Wall Street||occupation||17th September 2011||
|Washington, DC||October 2011||occupation|
On October 15, 2011, as part of a global day of action planned by the Spanish Democracia Real Ya (“Real Democracy Now!”) On May 15, protest actions took place in around 1000 cities around the world, including Germany, Austria and the Switzerland.
Demonstrations took place in Germany on October 15, including in Frankfurt am Main , Berlin , Hamburg , Munich , Cologne , Düsseldorf and Stuttgart . Around 40,000 people took part nationwide. In Frankfurt am Main, around 5,000 demonstrators marched in front of the European Central Bank building , and around 150 of them began setting up a tent camp there for an indefinite period. Following a demonstration with 2000 participants, a protest camp against HSH Nordbank was also started in Hamburg . In Berlin around 5000 people moved in front of the Chancellery. Around 1,500 people demonstrated in Cologne, around 1,000 in Düsseldorf, and the same number in Leipzig . There were also demonstrations in the cities of Aachen , Bochum , Dortmund , Minden , Bielefeld , Paderborn and Solingen . A week later, just before a European Council summit, the demonstrations were repeated . Between 7,500 and 10,000 participants gathered in Frankfurt, Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf and other cities. The main focus of the protests in Germany was once again the banking metropolis of Frankfurt with at least 4,000 participants.
On October 29 and November 5, there were again demonstrations in Frankfurt, Berlin and Düsseldorf with less participation than in the previous weeks. On November 12, 2011, demonstrators with the participation of the Occupy movement formed human chains around the Reichstag building in Berlin and Frankfurt's banking district. Up to 10,000 people took part in Frankfurt and up to 8,000 in Berlin. An alliance of the organizations Attac , Campact and Naturefriends together with 25 other organizations called for the initiative. On May 16, 2012, the Frankfurt camp was temporarily evacuated because of civil disobedience against the ECB and commercial banks planned for May 18 as part of the Blockupy Days. Occupyers from all over Germany took part in the alliance and the large demonstration on May 19. On August 6, 2012, the Occupy Frankfurt camp was evacuated by the police, in the weeks before and after camps in Kiel and Düsseldorf. Only the Hamburg camp remained.
In Austria, the initiative Ways out of the crisis followed , which was launched by, among others, Die Armutskonferenz , Attac Austria , the union of municipal employees, art, media, sport and liberal professions (GdG-KMSfB), Global 2000 Austria, the union of private employees (GPA) , Greenpeace Austria, the Austrian Catholic Workers Movement (KAB), the Austrian Students' Union , the PRO-GE trade union , SOS Mitmensch and the Vida trade union and supported by a number of other organizations, the call and organized actions in twelve cities .
According to the police, around 1,400 participants took part in a demonstration in Vienna . Around 200 activists in the city of Salzburg responded to Occupy Salzburg's call . As part of a joint campaign by Attac and the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) Tyrol, 5,000 flyers were distributed throughout Innsbruck . In Graz , the Platform 25 organized the Day of Outrage , during which the former member of the French Resistance and author of the essay Outrage! , Stéphane Hessel , gave a speech.
In Innsbruck , Bozner Platz was occupied by Occupy Innsbruck from November 11th, and on November 21st the movement moved from Bozner Platz to Waltherpark. The Gramartboden, one of the highest points in the city of Innsbruck, has been occupied since December 29, 2011.
In Switzerland, activists and supporters called for demonstrations in the major cities of Zurich , Bern , Geneva and Basel . In addition to the controversial, conspiracy-theoretical theses associated with “We are Change Switzerland”, the supporters included the group “Real Democracy Now”, the Juso and the Young Greens . On October 15 and a week after, around 1000 demonstrators gathered under the motto Occupy Paradeplatz on Zurich's Paradeplatz , directly in front of the headquarters of the two major Swiss banks, UBS and Crédit Suisse . About 70 of them set up a tent camp in the Lindenhof district , which was cleared by the police on November 15th. The now around 100 activists moved to the premises of a Reformed church in Aussersihl , which had been offered to them by the parish, and decided two weeks later to close the camp again and turn to other forms of action. Increasingly people who were not willing to take part in the political activity lived in the open tent camp.
Since October 15, 2011, there has been an Occupy tent camp in the Parc des Bastions in Geneva, 200 meters from Geneva’s financial district. It was tolerated by the authorities after long negotiations. Stéphane Hessel , author of the treatise Outraged! , visited the tent camp in December and expressed support. The tent camp was disbanded in early February 2012.
In London on October 15, 2011, there were demonstrations in front of the stock exchange and St Paul's Cathedral with several thousand participants. The WikiLeaks activist Julian Assange announced a campaign against financial institutions. According to Assange, the banking system in London is "the recipient of corrupt money". In London, too, a protest camp was set up in front of St Paul's Cathedral, which led to the church being temporarily closed.
The demonstrations began in October 2011. On October 15, 2011, two camps were set up by protesters in central London: one outside St. Paul's Cathedral in the City of London and the other in Finsbury Square, north of the City of London. In November 2011, a third key location was opened in a disused office complex owned by UBS, named by the demonstrators as the Bank of Ideas. A fourth location was established in late December 2011 in the unused premises of Old Street Magistrates Court in East London.
The Occupy London protests are supported by the tax avoidance protest group UK Uncut.
In Italy, on October 15, 2011, at least 150,000 people took to the streets in Rome, according to media estimates. In only one of 82 countries, there was violence on the sidelines of the protests. A group of hooded people caused devastation and fires. Others entered blocked archaeological areas in the area of the Colosseum . Neither peaceful demonstrators nor the police, who had expected incidents the day before after a vote of confidence with a positive outcome for the controversial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi , could prevent this.
In particular, the willingness of some activists to use violence was criticized. In Oakland, for example, barricades were erected, stone windows thrown in and street fires lit, which severely damaged several shops. Furthermore, the Occupy movement was supported by the neo-Nazi American Nazi Party , which claims to fight “Jewish bankers”. Likewise, anti-Semitic formulations or anti-capitalism within the Occupy movement that “favors anti-Semitic affects” and is culturally regressive were criticized.
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- Occupied Wall Street Journal online edition
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