Protests occur on Wall Street, students should stay informed

TEMP ORARY October 22, 2011 0

Liz Ricketts, political columnist, shares her insights into the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“We are the 99 percent!” screamed the angry youth taking to the streets of New York City. They are referring to the fact that the top 1 percent of the population in America sits on the highest percentage of the wealth. The youth want to reclaim the future from greedy bankers and politicians.

“We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent,” says the group organizing the movement known as Occupy Wall Street.
This revolt is happening now in the form of hundreds of thousands of people physically occupying the nation’s financial districts in protest of the connection between Wall Street bankers and our politicians as well as the growing economic disparity in America. Since Sept.17, thousands of people have set up tents in lower Manhattan with the intent of occupying the streets for the next several months.

The group in charge of the protests announced, via their website, occupywallst.org, “We occupy Wall Street as a symbolic gesture of our discontent with the current economic and political climate and as an example of a better world to come.” Those who began the initiative hope to use the tactics of the Arab Spring revolts to peacefully protest the economic disparity in America. The Arab Spring, which focused on massive occupations of specific areas, is what led to the overthrow of Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt and Gaddafi in Libya, as well as numerous other uprisings across the Middle East and Africa.

Now, I was excited when I first heard about this movement. Good old-fashioned protests get my blood pumping like nothing else. But I had no idea just how huge this movement would become; there are now well over 100 cities being occupied, and not just in America. Groups have begun popping up all over the country and internationally, protesting in solidarity with those of Occupy Wall Street. Cities in Europe, Canada, South America, Australia and even Japan are being occupied by protesters. OccupyTogether.org can put you in contact with protest groups near you.

This is all happening very fast thanks to social media. Twitter and Facebook are being used to spread the word and get protesters organized. YouTube, not the nightly news, is where you will see videos of the protests as well as proof of the police brutality being carried out against the people. But doesn’t everyone in America have the right to peacefully assemble, a right guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution? Well, shockingly, the Constitution is being ignored. There are now hundreds of videos online that show the police brutality against protesters taking place in NYC.

I urge you to search YouTube. Oct. 1, some 700 peaceful protesters were arrested after NYPD corralled them onto the Brooklyn Bridge and then blockaded it. Anyone who was “interfering with traffic” was arrested. It is the job of the police to serve and protect, but watching the videos available online show hundreds of incidents of questionable arrests and violence against the protesters. People just sitting along the sidewalk with their protest signs are being maced in the face by officers. People are being dragged through the street, despite showing no signs of resisting arrest. People are being thrown in jail for merely recording videos of the action taking place.

While I am not urging you to rush to the streets of New York, I am urging you to stay informed. The information will not come to you because those in control of this country do not want you to know these things are happening or why they are happening. This is a huge moment in America, and around the world, for us young people. This may finally be the point when we say “enough is enough.” The questions we were left with after the economic collapse in 2008 went unanswered. Policy was not reformed. We have every right to call out Wall Street and politicians for gambling with our futures, and losing. Because of their negligence we are facing a future of economic hardship with no jobs and huge loads of debt, with no end in sight. Why should we, and not they, suffer? The time to take action is now.

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