Two Teachers 2 :: Occupy Wall Street

• On September 17, 2011, several hundred people gathered in the business district of New York City, the largest city in the United States and its financial capital. They came to protest against the increasing inequality of income and wealth in the country and against all the unemployment, poverty, and homelessness that has followed the economic crisis of 2008. They wanted to protest in the financial district, the “Wall Street” area, because that is the headquarters of the banking and investment industry which they think caused the problems.

• For a few hours they listened to speeches, talked in small groups, and marched through the streets. When night came, many of them went home but a few put up tents in Zuccotti Park, the most convenient place to camp in that part of the city. That was the start of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. (“Wall Street” is actually the name of one of streets in the district but for a long time it has also been used to refer, in a general way, to American financial power.)

• This kind of protest quickly became very popular; within a month there were similar occupations in many other cities around the world. And the protesters showed themselves to be persistent; more than 200 of them remained in the park until they were forcibly evicted by the police on November 15, and even after that happened, they said intended to continue the occupation.

• There has been a lot of debate, both within the Occupy movement and outside it, about what its goals are — or should be. And it has often been criticized by people who say that it doesn’t really have any clear demands or definite ideas about how society should be changed. But everyone involved does seem to agree on one thing — that too much of the world’s wealth is in the hands of a small number of people. The protesters in the US have emphasized this fact by quoting statistics like this one: 40% of their country’s wealth is held by 1% of the population and, as a way of driving home their point, they have adopted the slogan, “We are the 99%!”