Trying To Understand Occupy

The Occupy movement has been going on around the world for a month or so and I’ve been trying to understand why?  To me it seems stupid and random.  Then again I’m not much of a protester.  I think there are better ways to solve this issue, which will be discussed later.

Here is some background information about that movement.


The Occupy movement is an international protest movement which is primarily directed against social and economic inequality.[6][7] The movement started in Kuala Lumpur on July 30, 2011, with Occupy Dataran,[8][9] followed by New York City and San Francisco on September 17, 2011, with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco. By October 9 Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 95 cities across 82 countries and over 600 communities in the United States.[10][11][12][13][14] As of November 4 the Meetup page “Occupy Together” listed “Occupy” communities in 2,464 towns and cities worldwide.[15]
Initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters,[16][17] the movement is partly inspired by the Arab Spring[dubious ], especially Cairo’s Tahrir Square protests, and the Spanish Indignants.[18][19][20] Occupy protests take their name from Occupy Wall Street, and commonly use the slogan We are the 99%, the #Occupy hashtag format, and organize through websites such as “Occupy Together”.[21] The protests, which have been described as a “democratic awakening”, are difficult to distill to a few demands.[22][23]


On May 30, 2011, a leader in the Spanish Indignants movement, inspired by the Arab Spring,[24][25] made a call for a worldwide protest on October 15.[26] In mid-2011, the Canadian-based group Adbusters Media Foundation, best known for its advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, address a growing disparity in wealth, and the absence of legal repercussions behind the recent global financial crisis.[16] According to the senior editor of the magazine, “[they] basically floated the idea in mid-July into our [email list] and it was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world, it just kind of snowballed from there.”[16] One of the inspirations for the movement was the Democracy Village set up in 2010, outside the British Parliament in London. The protest received additional attention when the internet group Anonymous encouraged its followers to take part in the protests, calling protesters to “flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and Occupy Wall Street“.[18][27][28][29] They promoted the protest with a poster featuring a dancer atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull.[30][31] The first protest was held at Zuccotti Park in New York City on September 17, 2011.[32]

Aims and methods

Initially, journalists such as Shannon Bond for the Financial Times had said it was hard to discern a unified aim for the movement, though by later October Adbusters had been trying to “rally it around a single, clear demand” for a Robin Hood tax, with a global march in support of the tax planned for October 29.[33][34] However, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, protesters want more and better jobs, more equal distribution of income, bank reform, and a reduction of the influence of corporations on politics.[35] A November article published in the FT argued that a lack of unified aims is still preventing the movement having much influence on the political mainstream, with recent events at the 2011 G-20 Cannes summit suggesting the banks will succeed in forestalling the implementation of a “Robin Hood” style transaction tax. [36]
Adbusters have been encouraging protestors to use tactical frivolity by improvising theatrics, pranks and “subversive performances”.[34] The movement has been compared to the Situationists and the Protests of 1968, although according to Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn, this time the “stakes are much higher”.[37]
Indeed, the movement has gone further to create a diverse, multi-media culture of art production and distribution, which is being archived and gathered by institutions such as the National Museum of American History and New York Historical Society. The purpose of much of the art produced is to visually impact the mainstream through imagery to create solidarity and unity among the 99%.[38]
Activists have used web technologies and social media like IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup to coordinate the events.[39] Indymedia have been helping the movement with communications, saying there have been conference calls on skype with participants from up to 80 locations. The progressive provider May First/People Link offered cost-free memberships for dozens of groups, including in Iran and Germany, to host websites, emails, and email lists securely.


Much of the movement’s work is performed by “working groups,” composed of volunteers, with important decisions being taken at “General assemblies.” General assemblies take place at most Occupy sites every evening at 7PM. All decisions are made using the consensus model of direct democracy, waving hands in various simple signals and operating with discussion facilitators rather than leaders, a system that may have originated in the Quaker movement several centuries ago.[40] At the assemblies, working group proposals are made to meeting participants, who comment upon them using a process called a “stack,” a queue of speakers that anyone can join. In New York, Occupy Wall Street uses what is called a progressive stack, in which people from marginalized groups are sometimes allowed to speak before people from dominant groups, with facilitators, or stack-keepers, urging speakers to “step forward, or step back” based on which group they belong to.[41][42] The progressive stack concept is controversial inside the Occupy movement, and has been criticized outside the movement as “forced equality” and “unfair.”[43]
To facilitate the making of decisions on a daily basis, some sites, including New York and London, have begun to use a “spokes council,” which is a council in which each working group designates a “spoke,” who is recallable by the working group at any time and is not authorized to make decisions for the working group. The designated spoke sits in the spokes council circle while remaining members of the working group sit behind the designated spoke. Spokes report to the council about their working groups’ issues and the spokes council takes decision with consensus of all the working groups present.[44][45]

Chronology of events

The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City on September 17, 2011.[46] On 9 October 2011, activists in cities in over 25 countries made calls for global protests on 15 October.[39][47][48] A list of events for October 15 included 951 cities in 82 countries.[49] On October 15 events were held in many cities worldwide.[50] It has since been known that Occupy Dataran in Kuala Lumpur started on 30 July 2011, a month and a half before Occupy Wall Street.[9]

Weeks 1 – 4 (September 17 – October 14)

On September 17, 1,000 protesters marched through the streets, with an estimated 100 to 200 staying overnight in cardboard boxes. By September 19, seven people had been arrested.[51][52]
At least 80 arrests were made on September 24,[53] after protesters started marching uptown and forcing the closure of several streets.[54][55] Most of the 80 arrests were for blocking traffic, though some were also charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Police officers have also been using a technique called kettling which involves using orange nets to isolate protesters into smaller groups.[54][55]
Videos which showed several penned-in female demonstrators being hit with pepper spray by a police official were widely disseminated, sparking controversy.[56] That police official, later identified as Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, was shown in other videos hitting a photographer with a burst of spray.[57]

Initially Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and a representative for Bologna defended his actions, while decrying the disclosure of his personal information.[56][57] After growing public furor, Kelly announced that Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board were opening investigations,[56] again criticizing Anonymous for “[trying] to intimidate, putting the names of children, where children go to school,” and adding that this tactic was “totally inappropriate, despicable.”[56] Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. started his own inquiry.[57]
Public attention to the pepper-sprayings resulted in a spike of news media coverage, a pattern that was to be repeated in the coming weeks following confrontations with police.[58] Clyde Haberman, writing in The New York Times, said that “If the Occupy Wall Street protesters ever choose to recognize a person who gave their cause its biggest boost, they may want to pay tribute to Anthony Bologna,” calling the event “vital” for the still nascent movement.[59][60] “After Ron Kuby, an attorney for one of the protesters, demanded Mr. Bologna’s arrest, [Bologna] was instead docked 10 vacation days and given a […] reassignment to Staten Island, where he lives,” according to an account by blogger Daniel Edward Rosen.[61]
On October 1, 2011, protesters set out to march across the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Times reported that more than 700 arrests were made.[62] The police used ten buses to carry protesters off the bridge. Some said the police had tricked protestors, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across. Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street said, “The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway.”[63] However, some statements by protestors supported descriptions of the event given by police: for example, one protestor Tweeted that “The police didn’t lead us on to the bridge. They were backing the [expletive] up.”[64] A spokesman for the New York Police Department, Paul Browne, said that protesters were given multiple warnings to stay on the sidewalk and not block the street, and were arrested when they refused.[65] By October 2, all but 20 of the arrestees had been released with citations for disorderly conduct and a criminal court summons.[66] On October 4, a group of protesters who were arrested on the bridge filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that officers had violated their constitutional rights by luring them into a trap and then arresting them; Mayor Bloomberg, commenting previously on the incident, had said that “[t]he police did exactly what they were supposed to do.”[67]
On October 5, joined by union members, students, and the unemployed, the demonstration swelled to the largest yet with an estimated 15,000 marchers joining the protest. Smaller protests continue in cities and on college campuses across the country.[68]
Thousands of union workers joined protesters marching through the Financial District. The march was mostly peaceful—until after nightfall, when scuffles erupted. About 200 protesters tried to storm barricades blocking them from Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. Police responded with pepper spray and penned the protesters in with orange netting.[69]
Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, British protesters organized an occupation of the London Stock Exchange to bring attention to what they saw as unethical behavior on the part of banks. One of the organizers of the protest said the protests are focused against “increasing social and economic injustice in this country.” In his opinion, “the Government has made sure to maintain the status quo and let the people who caused this crisis get off scot-free, whilst conversely ensuring that the people of this country pay the price, in particular those most vulnerable.”[70][71][72][73][74][75]

Week 5 – 7 (October 15 – November 4)

On October 15, tens of thousands of demonstrators staged rallies in 900 cities around the world, including Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, São Paulo, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, and many other cities.[76] In Frankfurt, 5,000 people protested at the European Central Bank and in Zurich, Switzerland’s financial hub, protesters carried banners reading “We won’t bail you out yet again” and “We are the 99 percent.” Protests were largely peaceful, however a protest in Rome that drew thousands turned violent when “a few thousand thugs from all over Italy, and possibly from all over Europe” caused extensive damage.[77] Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters gathered in Times Square in New York City and rallied for several hours.[78][79] Several hundred protesters were arrested across the U.S., mostly for refusing to obey police orders to leave public areas. In Chicago there were 175 arrests, about 100 arrests in Arizona (53 in Tucson, 46 in Phoenix), and more than 70 in New York City, including at least 40 in Times Square.[80] Multiple arrests were reported in Chicago, and about 150 people camped out by city hall in Minneapolis.[81]
In the early morning hours of October 25, police cleared and closed an Occupy Oakland encampment in Frank Ogawa Park in Oakland, California.[82][83] The raid on the encampment was described as “violent and chaotic at times,” and resulted in over 102 arrests but there were no injuries.[84][85] A street march that afternoon protesting the closure culminated in a confrontation between police and protesters, who sought to re-establish the Ogawa Plaza encampment. A group within the protesters threw stones, bottles and paint at officers, and the police fired tear gas into the crowds. During this confrontation, protester Scott Olsen, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran, suffered a skull fracture allegedly caused by a tear-gas projectile or smoke canister fired by police.[86][85]
On November 2, protesters in Oakland, California shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest port in the nation. Police estimated that about 3,000 demonstrators were gathered at the port and 4,500 had marched across the city, however a member of the Occupy movement was quoted by the BBC as estimating as many as 30,000 may have taken part.[87]
As of 29 October 2011, there were about 2300 occupied zones around 2000 cities worldwide.[88]
On 14 November, Occupy protesters in Oakland, California were faced off by Oakland Police and local sheriff deputies. Multiple arrests were made followed by city sanitation crews removing debris as a result of the makeshift tent city. [89]



“Occupy” demonstrations have taken place in Canberra, Perth,[90] Sydney,[91] Brisbane,[92] Adelaide[93] and Melbourne.[94] The protests were relatively small, each attracting at most several hundred participants. At the Occupy Melbourne protest on October 21, approximately 100 protesters defied police orders to clear the area, and were subsequently removed with force. Approximately 20 arrests were made.[95]


In Brussels there was a large demonstration following the arrival of the so-called ‘indignados’ in the city. The demonstration took place on the 15th of October and counted between 6,500 and 8,000 participants (estimations varry). A total of seven people where arrested as a group of protesters began vandalising the Dexia bank headquarters and the financial tower. Except for a few smaller incidents the manifestation went by peacefully.[96]
The Occupy Antwerp (Antwerpen) movement prepared for a first gathering on Saturday 22 October at the Groenplaats, next to the cathedral. About 150-200 people attended a speakers corner. The small socialist party (PVDA) was present and served free soup as well as propaganda for their miljonairs tax.
There have been four occupy protests in Leuven, three took place on the ‘Grand Market’ in the centre of the city and one took place at a building of the city’s catholic university. The number of protestors in these rallies varried from 100 to 250. These protest have not included prolonged camping, but the protesters say that it is a possibility in the future. [97][98]

Occupy Ghent: “Save us, not the bank!”, Ghent, November 2, 2011

Occupy Ghent (Gent) started on Saturday 29 October 2011 with 400 people in the South Park (Zuidpark). They received a visit by supporters attending the ‘second day of Socialism’ (de Tweede Dag van het Socialisme), also held in Ghent on the same day.[99]


Occupy Bay Street in Toronto‘s financial district.

Occupy Montreal demonstration on 15 October 2011

“Occupy” demonstrations have been taking place in at least 20 Canadian cities since October 15. On that day, 5,000 people gathered in Vancouver to protest social injustice, while 150 stayed the night in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.[100][101] 2,000 people marched in Toronto on October 15 and around 100 continued to occupy St James Park,[102] and 1,000 gathered in Montreal to march down Ste-Catharine Street; 85 tents were set up in Victoria square.[103] Events have been concentrated in provincial urban areas, and there have yet to be any demonstrations in the territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories, or Nunavut.[104][105]
On November 5, 2011, Ashlie Gough, 23, was found dead in one of the tents at Occupy Vancouver.[106]


800 student protesters started occupying universities all around the country on the 12th of November.[107]


Some 300 protesters started occupying Paris‘s financial district, La Défense, on November the 4th 2011. [108] . Since then on, their camp has been tore down almost daily by police forces and even blankets and food have been confiscated so they have been sleeping outdoors under low temperatures. On November 11th, following a call made on social networks, some 400 additional people joined the occupation. [109] and occupations started at Nantes, Lyon, Grenoble and Perpignan.


In Berlin, Occupy movement together with Occupy Frankfurt and Hamburg initiated its protests outside the Reichstag on Friday 15 October. Occupy Frankfurt has now taken residence in front of the European Central Bank, and a similiar action is being prepared on the premises of the St. Mary’s Church, Berlin.[110] On 12 November major Occupy protests took place in Berlin and Frankfurt.[111][112] Police reported that around 9,000 people peacefully protested near the headquarters of the European Central Bank, and that “several thousand” people took to the streets of Berlin; organisers of the protests claimed that turnout was around 8,000 in Berlin and 10,000 in Frankfurt.[111][112]


On October 15, 2011, about 200,000 people[113] gathered in Rome to protest against economic inequality and the influence of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on government.[114] Many other protests occurred in other Italian cities the same day.[115]
In Rome masked and hooded militants wearing makeshift body armor, in black bloc fashion, infiltrated the protests centered in St John Lateran square and committed numerous violent acts, throwing Molotov cocktails and other homemade explosives, burning and blowing up cars, burning buildings, and smashing up property such as ATMs and shop windows.[116] The Roman Catholic church Santi Marcellino e Pietro al Laterano received extensive damage, including a statue of the Virgin Mary being thrown into the street and destroyed.[116] Several unexploded petrol bombs were reportedly found on several streets by Italian police.[116] Over 1,000,000 euros of damage (equivalent to over 1.3 million dollars) was recorded.[116] At least 135 people were injured in the resulting clashes, including 105 police officers, several of whom were left in critical condition,[117] and two news crews from Sky Italia.[116][118] Two protesters had their fingers amputated by exploding smoke bombs.[116] Almost 20 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.[116]
After the October 15 demonstration, peaceful people occupied the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme square and started camping as in other cities worldwide. The name of this Rome’s group, related to international Occupy movement, is Accampata Roma.


The first Occupy Dataran poster on 30 July 2011

The Occupy Dataran movement first held their assembly at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) 7 weeks before Occupy Wall Street on July 30, 2011[119] to create an alternative to the current representative democracy[120] using the popular assembly model based on principles of participatory democracy.[121] As part of the 15 October 2011 global protests, over 200 people[122] took part in 15 October’s Occupy Dataran, the largest assembly to date.[123] The movement have now spread to Penang with Occupy Penang[124] and Kelantan with Occupy Kota Bharu.


S. Ganbaatar, the head of Mongolia’s Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), has announced that the association joins the worldwide occupy protests of Wall Street and other high streets on 20 October 2011.[125] He claimed that bankers are charging higher interest rates from customers and corporates. As of September 2011, the weighted average annual MNT lending rate is 16% in Mongolia.[126]

New Zealand

Six cities across New Zealand have seen “Occupy” protests arise (as of October 17, 2011), namely Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill. Protests in Auckland have drawn up to 3,000 supporters.[127]

Republic of Ireland

Six towns and cities in Ireland are now being occupied; Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Letterkenny, and Athlone.[128] It is expected that Roscommon will follow. Protests were held in Dublin,[129] Cork, and Galway.[130] The Irish Times described the movement in the following terms: “The group has no hierarchical structure, has set up a Facebook page and Twitter account – with the social media links attracting a very mixed, and sometimes critical, reaction.” The protest in Dublin was organized by the “Real Democracy Now! Ireland”, and “Occupy Dame Street” protest, set up outside the Central Bank of Ireland in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. On 22 October is was reported that over 2,000 people took part in the Occupy Dame Street demonstration.[131]


On 15 October Occupy protests took place in front of the offices of UBS and Credit Suisse on the Paradeplatz in Zurich.[132] They later established an occupation on the nearby Lindenhof.

United Kingdom

A tent at the Occupy London encampment in the City of London

As part of the 15 October 2011 global protests, protesters gathered in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.[133] The London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square was the initial target for the protesters of Occupy London on October 15, 2011.[73][75][74] Attempts to occupy the square were thwarted by police.[74][134] Police sealed off the entrance to the square as it was private property, and a High Court injunction had been granted against public access to the square.[135] 2500-3000 people gathered nearby outside St Paul’s Cathedral, with 250 camping overnight.[134] The canon of St. Paul’s, Reverend Giles Fraser, said he was happy for people to “exercise their right to protest peacefully” outside the cathedral and an indefinite encampment was established.[134] Additional smaller protests occurred in Nottingham.[136] As of 17 October an indefinite encampment had also been established on College Green in Bristol.[137] On 29 October a camp was also established in Victoria Gardens, Brighton, and grew from six tents to around twenty within one week.[138] Further Occupy camps are taking place in Bath, Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Plymouth, and Norwich.[139]
In Northern Ireland, Occupy Belfast initiated its protest outside the offices of Invest NI on Friday 21 October. Occupy Belfast has now taken residence at Writer’s Square, in the Cathedral Quarter.[140] It is expected that an Occupy Derry will take place in the near future.
In Scotland camps have been organised around the financial district of St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh since Saturday the 15th October. St. Andrews Square is the home of the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in the Dundas House mansion. Protesters from Occupy Glasgow had set up in the civic George Square on 15th October but moved to Kelvingrove Park where the council would provide running water, toilets and safety fences after the council obtained a court order.

[edit] United States

The General Assembly meeting in Washington Square Park, New York City on October 8, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City in September 2011.[14] By October 9, similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities across the U.S.[14] An October 12–16 poll found that 67% of New York City voters agreed with the protesters and 87% agreed with their right to protest.[141] An October 11, 2011, poll showed that 54% of Americans nationwide have a favorable opinion of the protests, compared to 27% for the Tea Party movement,[142] and up from 38% in a poll conducted October 6–10.[143] A poll published on October 19 for National Journal found that 59% of Americans either completely or mostly agree with the protestors, with even support from Republicans at 31%.[144]
On October 15, the Occupy Wall Street Demands Working Group published the 99 Percent Declaration with demands, goals, and solutions.[145][146] It calls for a United States general assembly on July 4, 2012 in Philadelphia to support public works programs, tax hikes on the wealthiest, debt forgiveness, ways to get money out of politics, and amendment of the U.S. Constitution.[146][147][148] However, New York City General Assembly official statements are agreed upon by consensus, and not all participants agree with issuing demands.[148][149]

[edit] University campuses

Occupy movements have taken place on college campuses across the United States. UC Berkeley [150], San Francisco State University, UC Irvine[151], and Harvard University[152] are some institutions of higher education that have held occupations in support of the Occupy movement. Saint Mary’s College of California held teach-ins to educate students on the Occupy movement and encourage them to get involved.[153]


It is too soon to gauge the full global impact of this fledgling and multifaceted social movement. In the United States, the protests have helped shift the national dialogue from the deficit to economic problems ordinary Americans face, such as unemployment,[154] the large amount of student and other personal debt that burdens many Americans,[155] and other major issues of social inequality, such as homelessness.[156]
Labor unions have become bolder in the tactics they employ to defend worker rights and have been using digital social media more effectively because of the issues raised in the public mind by the Occupy movement, and because of the energy and inspiration provided by the Occupy movement.[157] In New York City, the Occupy Wall Street protest has also provided hundreds of protesters to help in picket actions conducted by labor unions.[157]



 Brazil On 15 October 2011, President Dilma Rousseff said, “We agree with some of the expressions that some movements have used around the world [in] demonstrations like the ones we see in the US and other countries.”[158]
 Canada On 15 October 2011, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed sympathy with the protests, stating “There’s growing worry about a lack of opportunities for the younger generation — particularly in the United States — and it’s up to governments to ensure youth are able to capitalize on their education and find good jobs.” He later commented, “I can understand some legitimate frustration arising out of that.”[159]
 India On 19 October 2011, Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, described the protests as “a warning for all those who are in charge of the processes of governance”.[160]
 United Kingdom On 21 October 2011, Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the protests were about fairness. “There are voices in the middle who say, ‘Look, we can build a better financial system that is more sustainable, that is based on a better and proportionate sense of what’s just and fair and where people don’t take reckless risks or, if they do, they’re penalized for doing so.'”[161] On 6 November 2011, Opposition leader Ed Miliband “The challenge is that they reflect a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: the gap between their values and the way our country is run.” He mentioned that he is “determined that mainstream politics, and the Labour Party in particular, speaks to that crisis and rises to the challenge”.[162]
 United States On 16 October 2011, President Barack Obama spoke in support of the movement, though also asked protesters not to “demonize” finance workers.[33]


I understand that this movement is trying to make things better for everyone, but will it actually work?  The problem I foresee comes from a Canadian perspective.  The thing is the protest started in October, and people have been camping out in parks all across the country from Vancouver to Halifax.  They plan to continue camping out until they see change.  The thing is, alot of them don’t even know what they’re fighting for.  Most seem to be in on it because they have nothing better to do (If only more people had hobbies).  The protesting doesn’t seem to be working as well as these people would like.  Also, if the camping, and awkward protesting continues things are going to get colder in cities across Canada.  Winter lasts a long time.  These protesters will freeze if they camp out over the winter.

I have a solution to this protest.  Why not become voting members of the organizations you are trying to change?  Then people would listen to you.  That beats protesting out in the cold and getting all sweaty and angry doesn’t it?  Is protesting the only way to get results?

Just a thought to ponder.

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