Occupy Wall Street

Since September 17, 2011 the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown from a core group of protestors who began occupying Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, renaming in Liberty Plaza. Solidarity protests have taken place in thousands of US and Canadian cities. Though police crackdowns have since cleared most, if not all, of these Occupy encampments, the spirit of the movement continues, made manifest in continued protest throughout the United States.

At the core of the movement: A reining in of corporate control of the US and global economy, and politics. It comes as the US economy has greater economic inequality than many developing nations (including India, China, and Iran), joblessness is on the rise, and social mobility is nearly at an all-time low. Calling themselves the 99%, they align themselves against the richest 1% of the US population, who control a percentage of US wealth and income unmatched since the Great Depression.

As much as what the movement itself has brought to the table, the response from civic government has been illustrative of the state of affairs, and polarizing. From police officers repeatedly pepper-spraying peaceful, non-violent protestors, to intimidating and arresting members of the media, the reaction of those in power has shed light on deep imbalances in the American political system and public life. In fact, as a result of the reaction to Occupy protests around the nation, the US has fallen 20 spots in international rankings of press freedom, falling to number 47 in 2011.

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