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New Media and Social Movements
Wikimedia in the Arab World
A Former MENA Peace Corps Director & AUC Professor
African Student Clubs
Arabic Wikipedia - Interviews
AS Digital Landscape
AS Government Response
AS Outcomes to Date
AS Social Media Trends
Blogging Culture in the Region and Engaging Bloggers
Chair of the Communications and New Media Program at the National University of Singapore
China's Jasmine Revolution
China's response to Occupy Wall Street
Chinese Government Reaction to OWS
CJR Digital Landscape
CJR Government Response
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This document is a subsection of
New Media and Social Movements
Occupy Wall Street
OWS Digital landscape
OWS Social Media Trends
OWS Government Response
OWS Outcomes to Date
Occupy Wall Street: Context
Occupy Wall Street: How did it all begin?
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is an ongoing global movement that started on September 17, 2011 in Zuccotti Park in New York City and spread to other cities nationally and internationally. The brand “Occupy” became a characteristic of the unifying global movement calling for justice, economic equality, equality before law, and freedom of speech.
Occupy Wall Street is a social movement defined by shared enemy, shared tactics, and shared identity. The protesters claim an inspiration from the Arab Spring movements in 2011. The OWS is characterized as a grass root movement using social media and non-traditional news sources to deliver its message.
July 13: Canadian magazine
Adbusters makes a call to Occupy Wall Street
August 30: The hacktivist collective known as
Anonymous released a video via YouTube
calling for a peaceful protest
September 17: Nearly 1,000 gather to protest corporate greed and begin to occupy the financial district in New York City
is the first celebrity to lend support to the so-called
NYC General Assembly
September 20: The NYPD starts
arresting protesters for wearing masks
, citing an arcane law that prohibits masked gatherings of two or more people with an exception: "a masquerade party or like entertainment." The police soon
become more forceful
September 22: Demonstrators
interrupt a Sotheby's Auction
, "in a show of solidarity with the art handler's union that had been locked out." This is the first instance of labor unions and the movement locking step.
September 24: 80 protesters are arrested during a peaceful march;
a video of a police
officer pepper-spraying a nonthreatening woman goes viral.
September 26: Anonymous allegedly
leaks the name and details of the police officer
who wielded the pepper spray.
September 27: The Occupy Wall Street campaign comes out in
support of postal workers
who are protesting their reduced five-day work week.
Transport Workers Union
votes to support Occupy Wall Street;
over 700 Continental and United Airline pilots
demonstrate in front of Wall Street.
September 30: More than 1,000 demonstrators
march on NYPD headquarters
, protesting the police response against the demonstrators.
Over 700 demonstrators are arrested
for marching across the Brooklyn Bridge and blocking traffic.
Major labor unions endorse the movement
and join in a march on New York's financial district. According to
, as many as 15,000 participate in the march.
October 6: Demonstrations spread to hundreds of US cities and around the world, with
a global day of action planned for October 15
. President Obama
comments on the Occupy Wall Street protests
October 8: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
in DC after protesters clash with security. Patrick Howley, an editor at the American Spectator,
claims he infiltrated the protest
to "mock and undermine it."
October 10: In a late-night crackdown, Boston police
arrest more than 100 protesters in Dewey Square
. The clash includes members of
Veterans for Peace.
October 12: At 7 AM, protesters in San Francisco
engage in a sit-in in front of Wells Fargo
headquarters. With entrances blocked for over five hours, the office decides to shut down for the day. Police arrest 11 demonstrators.
October 14: Protesters successfully
thwart an eviction from Zuccotti Park
. Arrests are on the rise in Denver; Seattle; Gainesville, Florida; and Portland.
October 15: The
Global Day of Action
brings tens of thousands out to the streets. In New York, several protesters are removed from a Citibank branch at Washington Square Park in New York City.
Twenty arrests are confirmed
Riots break out in Rome
, Londoners attempt to
occupy the London Stock Exchange
, and demonstrations take place in over 80 countries. Local police arrest protestors in
Raleigh, North Carolina,
raid the encampment in San Francisco
October 17: Adbusters
calls for a global protest
on October 29, demanding that leaders meeting at the
G20 summit in France
Robin Hood Tax
. The tax levies 1 percent on financial transactions and currency trades, which would raise funds to protect public services, fight climate change, and combat poverty.
October 21: Nearly
100 demonstrators are forcibly removed
from their City Square camp site in Melbourne, Australia, enduring eye gouging, pepper spraying, dragging, and brutal punches to the face
from riot squads
October 25: Oakland police
crack down on the encampment at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
, unleashing rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, and tear gas on the protesters. Police arrest 97 occupiers after tearing down tents and destroying the site.
October 26: On the heels of the Oakland crackdown,
Atlanta police move in on Woodruff Park
and arrest 53 protesters, clearing the park by 2 a.m.
October 27: The General Assembly
votes for a general strike
in Oakland on November 2. The proposal passes by a vote of 1,484 to 46.
November 2: Occupy Oakland's general strike peacefully
shuts down the Oakland port
Late night clashes
between protesters and police follow after protesters occupy an abandoned Traveler's Aid building and barricade surrounding straights.
November 5: Protesters march on major banks and financial institutions in honor of "Bank Transfer Day" — an attempt to urge Americans to move their money from big corporate banks to smaller community credit unions.
November 15: In Oakland, police arrest 20 people and clear protesters from the plaza where they had been living; the mayor's legal adviser resigns in protest. And at 1.am. in New York City, police begin
protesters from Zuccotti Park on Mayor Bloomberg's orders, arresting those who refuse to leave and
from getting close to the scene. A judge
that although the protesters do not have a First Amendment right to camp out in the park, they are allowed to return to Zuccotti sans tents and tarps.
November 17: Day of Action: Over 30,000 People Rally in New York City (NYPD estimated 32,500), including organized contingents of workers, students, and other members of “the 99%” following by actions in at least 30 cities across the country and around the world. Commemoration of 2-Months Since Birth of the 99% Movement,
Festival of Lights on Brooklyn Bridge
and a sense that a powerful and diverse civic movement for social justice is on the ascent.
As the OWS movement went viral online/offline and spread to various parts of the world, efforts to map all the movements associated with OWS resulted into creation of maps that capture the global reach of this movement.
To view the
“Occupy” world map
To view the
“Occupy” arrests map
“Occupy” social media map
Unemployment Rate vs. Corporate profits in the US
The range of goals and demands Occupy Wall Street movement attracts is wide, while the Demands Working Group favored a fairly concrete set of national policy proposals, others within the movement prefer a looser, more localized set of goals and they have put together a competing document, the Liberty Square Blueprint, a freenetworkmovement.org page still undergoing changes. The introduction to the draft document reads:
"Demands cannot reflect inevitable success. Demands imply condition, and we will never stop. Demands cannot reflect the time scale that we are working with."
The unemployment is at the highest level since the Great Depression but for a moment in the 80s:
A record percentage of people have been unemployed for more than six months:
On the other hand corporate profits are high:
Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low -- i.e., corporations pay less of a share to employees than they ever have:
It's worth noting that the US has been in a similar situation before: At the end of the "Roaring '20s," just before the start of the Great Depression. It took the country 15-20 years to pull out of that slump and fix the imbalances. But by the mid-1950s, employment, corporate profits, wages, and inequality had all returned to more normal levels and the U.S. enjoyed a couple of decades of relatively well-balanced prosperity. But the current situation is too similar to what became the Great Depression. Importantly, the inequality that has developed in the economy over the past couple of decades is not just a moral issue. It's a practical one. It is, as sociologists might say, "de-stabilizing." It leads directly to the sort of social unrest that we're seeing right now.
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