Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street movement needs direction

The Occupy Wall Street movement, now more of an international Occupy X movement, has been one of the most controversial and hottest topics of the last year.

This grass-roots movement has been both derided and cheered by many Americans and by citizens of countries worldwide.

It would be difficult to find someone who could define the long-term plans and goals of the movement.

The spontaneous, diffuse and passionate atmosphere of Occupy Wall Street has been both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. The movement has garnered much media attention, but has ultimately done little in moving forward. This begs the question; has this movement been a success or a failure? In short, the answer is both.

The protesters of the movement have called for drastic political and economic changes. These range from economic issues such taxes that regulate the income discrepancy, ending private campaign financing, and the two party system while increasing government transparency.

These concerns are both valid and relevant to many Americans, many of whom have been frustrated with these governmental and economic aspects for some time. The fact that these concerns are being voiced in a way that has attracted the massive media attention that it has is the epitome of effectively expressing the values of the First Amendment.

Despite the massive attention and support this movement has gained, it has yet to achieve a focused and practical plan toward the widespread change it calls for.

This lack of organization and focus can ironically be best seen in Occupy Wall Street’s attempt at organizational and political focus.

A rough list of demands was released by occupywallstreet.org some months ago.

As of yet, the list of demands has been less than lackluster in alleviating these concerns. The demands call for trading tariffs so that domestic “mom and pop” stores and farming may be more competitively active in the economy while at the same time mandating free college education on top of trillions of dollars of spending in various ecological and infrastructure projects.

A better educational system is of the utmost importance, and the increased employment that the New Deal-inspired infrastructure push would achieve would do much for the job market. However, many of these would be more detrimental than helpful, especially in the sense that we can ill-afford more trillion-dollar plus spending in our present state of horrendous debt and deficit.

This is not to say that a number of these demands do not have substantial merit, but in any movement for social or political change, restraint is required.

This can be best achieved with at least some form of centralized or recognized leadership.

While many would say that creating any form of leadership would be a bastardization of the very values that the movement stands for, compromises have to be made in the face of reality.

Occupy Wall Street in many ways embodies the dissatisfaction and frustration that many Americans feel toward both the government and the economy, especially big business’ abuse of Capitalism and the rampant partisanship in government which has ground many reforms to a halt in Congress.

It is composed of citizens from all walks of life and has just as many agendas as it does varied individuals.

It is the single greatest exercise of democratic rights in the recent history of the United States.

But the movement needs to gain direction and achieve common ground to best bring about change.

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Nick Kintop
/Staff writer
Nick Kintop can be reached at linfieldreviewopinion@gmail.com

Occupy Wall Street insists it’s not political

The Occupy Wall Street protest may be a movement, a momentary phenomenon or something in between, but one thing its most fervent activists insist  it’s not is a team of shock troops for any political campaign.

That’s a  disappointment to Democrats who wish the Occupy activists would animate their party the way the tea party lit up Republicans in  the past two years, but the protesters at the original Occupy Wall Street scene say that’s not what it’s about.

“I don’t see us endorsing candidates or trying to form a party,” said Mark Bray, 29, a doctoral student in history at Rutgers University and a spokesman for Occupy Wall Street. Efforts to shift the movement in a partisan direction would be unlikely to be approved by the consensus process at the protesters’ regular General Assembly meetings, he and other protesters say.

“There would be so many people who would balk at the endorsement of any party or candidate that I don’t think it would happen,” Bray said.

Not yet, at least.

Like other protesters from various Occupy Wall Street organizing groups, Bray did not rule out political possibilities for the future. Protesters from the Occupy Cincinnati group have announced a platform for a new political party _ the Occupation Party.

The  protests are far from apolitical. It’s difficult to walk even a few feet in Zuccotti Park, the New York protest’s base in Manhattan’s financial district, without hearing political issues being debated and finding groups weighing in on a wide range of subjects such as health care, education, national debt and defense spending.

Though most activists at Occupy Wall Street claim to be dissatisfied with the state of American government and politics, their views come in many flavors. Some are leftists of the 1960s generation, and others are curious newcomers to political activism. Still others are Ron Paul supporters, anarchists, or soured Obama campaign volunteers.

Last Wednesday, a group of protesters left for a two-week march to Washington, with plans to arrive by Nov. 23, the deadline for the congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to decide how to deal with federal budget deficits. The activists plan to protest extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

But beyond such singular acts of protest, most Occupy Wall Street activists hope their movement will remain outside organized politics for now. They offer several explanations.

Some say they feel the political status quo is so corrupt, it’s best not to engage with it at all. Elisa Miller, 38, a New Orleans resident who came to New York for the protests in late September, said she was boycotting the 2012 elections.

“This system is grossly dysfunctional,” she said, then entered a heated exchange with a passing organizer about why she thinks electoral reform is impossible.

Several protesters said they want their effort to avoid being co-opted by or beholden to a particular party or candidate.

Many praised the protests as a place to nurture the exchange of new  political ideas entirely outside of the two-party system.

“We’re literally opening a space that did not exist before,” said Kobi Skolnick, 30, who said he was amazed at the creative problem-solving he’s seen.

Others said the question of what would become of the protests, politically or otherwise, was missing the point.

“The question to me is, what’s the right way to come up with an answer to that, based on democratic principles?” said Bray, the spokesman.

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Gianna Palmer/
McClatchy Newspaper

Alumna incites action, occupies

Crowds of community members congregate on 3rd Street on Oct. 13 to hold Occupy McMinnville, a protest which followed the Occupy movement that has been sweeping the nation. A Linfield alumna organized the protest so that locals could have their voices heard.

A crowd of more than 70 people gathered along 3rd Street on Oct. 13, forming an Occupy McMinnville protest.

A Linfield alumna organized the event as a chance for locals to stand up for their beliefs and show their support for protestors from larger cities who are still posted in major metropolitan streets.

Cheryl Hockaday, class of ’88, said she organized the event to empower citizens by giving them a place to express their opinions about corporate greed.

Protesters show their support of the Occupy movement by bringing the cause to their own town of McMinnville on Oct. 13.

She said that the Occupy McMinnville demonstration was to support protestors from larger cities, such as New York and Portland, who are still posted in streets and parks.

“Even though it seems like a small town’s protest doesn’t get much attention, it is still an important symbol of what we believe,” Hockaday said. “We have to be willing to support those protestors who are in the trenches day and night. They have to know that they are not alone, even if we can’t physically be there.”

Hockaday, a small business owner in the community, said she had already received criticism for heading up the protests and that some locals didn’t understand why she decided to join the Occupy movement.

“It’s hard to step out and take risks and be counted,” Hockaday said.

Other community members said that they joined the demonstration to draw attention to problems they see growing, from economic inequality to the influence of wealth on corporations and government.

Joe Munger, who has been a still worker for 19 years and is the president of the regional labor council, said that the Occupy protest seemed like a natural demonstration for him to join.

“I impact 9,000 union members from 22 unions, so raising concerns about taxes and big corporations is an important thing for me to do,” Munger said.

Another protestor, 19-year-old Cameron Baldwin, said that he graduated high school but is homeless and doesn’t have a job or health insurance. His situation isn’t uncommon for many people his age, he said.

Community members express their opinions through chants and posters during Occupy McMinnville.

“The way this country is headed, the 99 percent will be dead and the one percent will have nothing left,” Baldwin said.

While the Occupy demonstrations have been called disorganized and scattered, Munger said he thought that they mainly appeared disjoined  to the public eye because of the wide array of active and involved protestors.

“These protests cast a wide net,” Munger said. “They’ve gotten attention from conservatives, liberals, older people and younger people. We aren’t just protesting about one thing, but we’re all displeased with the corruption that’s going on.”

Unlike average protests, the Occupy rallies are unique because they represent people from so many different backgrounds with so many different concerns, Hockaday said.

“Every person is an individual with unique ideas and none of us hold the exact same views, but we are the same 99 percent,” she said.

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Joanna Peterson/
Managing editor
Joanna Peterson can be reached at linfieldreviewmanaging@gmail.com.

America needs proactive, peaceful protesters

Photo credit: Meghan O’Rourke

“Occupy Wall Street,” the movement against corporate greed in America, has swept the nation, with protests popping up all around the nation.

Oregon cities, such as Portland, Salem and even McMinnville, have been holding protests. However, some of these protests have been shut down for apparently overstaying their welcome.

According to the Associated Press, eight protesters in Portland were arrested for staying overnight in parks, which is technically illegal. While no protesters in Salem were arrested, they got a warning and were told to vacate the parks at night.

This raises the question of should protesters be arrested for staying in city parks?

“If they’re non-violent protesters, they have the right to march,” freshman Ariana Lipkind said.

While camping in a park overnight is technically illegal, these protesters are trying to raise awareness for a good cause. Unless they are physically harming people or damaging their community, it doesn’t seem that they should be arrested.

While these protesters are trying to overcome corporate greed, it is hard to defeat something that not all citizens understand. Lipkind, while stating that protesters shouldn’t be arrested as long as they aren’t being violent, admitted that she hadn’t heard of these protests before.

“I haven’t had time to look at the news,” said Lipkind. American voters need to be aware of the issues at hand in order to ensure that the government is being run in a way that is favorable to its people.

College students, as young voters and future leaders of America, should stay up to date in current issues in politics. After all, we are the ones who are going to be dealing with the repercussions of today’s decisions.

If a country’s people don’t stay involved in politics, it is easier for politicians to get away with doing whatever they want to do.

Maybe this is why big corporations have become such a big problem. People have let them do whatever they please for too long, allowing them to gain too much power.

This isn’t to say that all Americans aren’t up to date on politics and issues in our society. The protesters for “Occupy Wall Street” all around the country are obviously informed voters who want to change how the government is run.

The bottom line is that non-violent protesters deserve to make their voice heard, and in order to have orderly protests, we need to have informed citizens.

If this issue isn’t taken care of soon, we are the ones who are going to be suffering at the hands of corporate greed. Be proactive, and learn about what is going on in politics. And if you find that you have strong feelings, take part in the protest and make your voice heard.

-The Review Editorial Board

linfieldreviewopinion@gmail.com

Protesting can help spur change

If you’ve been following the coverage of “Occupy Wall Street,” you know that the people are angry. The people are so angry that the protest has continued all across the country. It has spread both large and small cities. Cities all over the country organized mass gatherings.

On Oct. 6, about 10,000 people gathered in downtown Portland to peacefully protest the corporate corruption that our country has been suffering through for years. The parks were covered in signs saying things like, “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention,” “End the war, End the Fed,” “We are the 99%,” and “Close your bank account.”

Many people spoke of their financial struggles and lack of well-being. Even a policeman took the stage to express his concerns about the corporate greed.

Our generation, the people born between the years of 1980-1995, is bigger than the “Baby Boomers.” We are the strongest group of people in the nation right now, and we have the power to make the government listen.

We want justice from the 1% (the corporations). We want political and social equality. We want democracy back in America. What happens when we have children? What happens when we want to buy a house but can’t because we’re strapped with student loans? These are the loans that we have to pay to get an education  to get a good job to barely keep us afloat in this suffering economy.

The current administration has sent the next three generations into a downward spiral. When the big banks, such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo, go down, where is your money going to go? The wealthy and corporations pay less money in taxes than the middle and lower classes do.

According to the Declaration of the Occupation of New York, the government and corporations have spent and donated large amounts of money on politicians and their campaigns instead of programs that fund the people.

These large entities keep us dependent on oil and throw us around with the prices. The government makes laws that benefit the banks.

They purposely keep the people misinformed and fearful through control of the media. They have undermined the farms of America because of monopolization.

And through animal cruelty, torture and confinement, the government has profited and kept these practices secret from us. These are only a few of the grievances listed in the Declaration.

The government privatizes everything. Water bottles, for example, privatize a worldly resource and turn it into something that we pay for and think we “need.” While we can get water for free through our taps, we continue to purchase plastic water bottles that are a giant waste and threat to the environment. Why does the government do this? For a profit, of course.

Protests alone won’t change or solve the financial problems that our country is having, but they can spur a change. To begin our reform, we need to cleanse the government of corrupt leaders and restore democracy to America.

-Kelsey Sutton/copy chief

linfieldreviewcopy@gmail.com