Occupy Wall Street Protests

“Occupy Wall Street” protesters in New York City

On September 17, 2011, a group of protesters launched Occupy Wall Street, in New York City’s financial district. Speaking out against greed and corruption, the OWS activists are focusing on inequalities of wealth distribution in America. Claiming the economic system is rewarding the already wealthy at the expense of virtually everyone else, they emphasize a populist idea that “the 99%” are being exploited by “the 1%” who own most national wealth.

The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan agency that provides economic data to Congress, released a study of national income distribution between 1979 and 2007 that confirms the rich really have been getting richer. While not offering reasons for growing income disparity, the CBO report details that those with the highest incomes have seen their incomes nearly triple over the period; at the same time, the middle 60 percent of Americans experienced only modest increases in income.

Similar “Occupy” protests have sprung up in cities and communities nationwide, but the participation is estimated at only about 100,000 people overall. The OWS Web site describes the protest as a “leaderless resistance movement” that represents “many … political persuasions.” According to one early survey of the movement, the majority of the protesters are left-wing ideologically, as evidenced by their opposition to free-market capitalism and embrace of radical redistribution of wealth. The vast majority favor engaging in civil disobedience to achieve their goals. But the movement has not put forth specific demands, and many of the protesters are engaged in grass-roots democracy within their ranks.

Some historians have pointed out that, like Occupy Wall Street, other movements protesting against the concentration of wealth have arisen in American history. Coxey’s Army in 1894 and the Bonus Army in 1932 were spurred on by persistent unemployment.

Image credit: Anthony Behar/Sipa Press/ocwsipatb.017/1110112219

Related Links

  • The Geography of Occupying Wall Street (And Everywhere Else)
    A New York Times blogger who analyzes politics, polling, and public affairs has studied the extent of the “Occupy” protests around the United States.
    (Source: New York Times, October 17, 2011)
  • Polling the Occupy Wall Street Crowd
    Opinion piece that focuses on the findings of an early sampling of opinion among the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
    (Source: Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2011)
  • Web site of the OWS Movement
    The decentralized movement’s Web site includes a link to “We Are the 99%”—handwritten testimonies of Americans struggling financially.
    (Source: occupywallstreet.org; accessed October 31, 2011)
  • Occupy Wall Street (OWS)
    This encyclopedia article covers the basics of the ongoing protest events in New York and elsewhere.
    (Source: wikipedia.com; accessed October 31, 2011)
  • CBO: Top 1% Getting Exponentially Richer
    Discusses the recent report of the Congressional Budget Office on increasing income inequality in the United States from 1979 to 2007.
    (Source: CBS News, October 25, 2011)
  • “Occupy” Movement Has Precedents in American History
    This article compares the current “Occupy” movement to other movements in U.S. history that have arisen during times of great economic hardship; includes brief videos of “Occupy” protests in Knoxville, Tennessee, and other cities.
    (Source: Des Moines Register, October 13, 2011)


  1. Bill says:

    Oh I agree.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The rich only get richer, and the poor, poorer…see the irony?

    • sanae says:

      yes i agree on every word its true the rich get richer and the poor get poorer 🙁 :/

    • Andrea says:

      It appears to me that rich, porefwul forces are behind this global movement, supporting it financially and in numbers, as well. Their model for the OWS has been the Arab Spring’ in the Middle East, and the end-game is the same the toppling of the government and the ushering in of Sharia Law in America! On the agenda, as well, could be Martial Law imposed upon all citizens of the United States! In order for this to occur, the movement will necessarily need to include violence and bloodshed in our streets and cities. If my assessment is correct, this peaceful protest will take a very violent turn in the nearfuture, and the protesters, whom I applaud, will be caught in the middle. Call me crazy time will tell!

  3. javerious says:

    i agree

  4. phil says:


    • Anonymous says:

      they shouldnt

      • Zac says:

        Atually Grayson does not have his facts straight. The hoinusg bubble and subsident crash was a result of Barney Frank and his social justice mandates to lenders to loosen their lending rules to include low income ppl that would not have qualified before based on their income. It also mandated that credit worthiness be redefined so that low income not good credit would qualify for not only a mortgage but also the going interest rate.These high risk loans forced on banks then were bundled

      • Rosicleia says:

        Here’s a weird random thing (nothing to do with OWS). SF apvroped public funding for the mayoral election. Once a candidate raised $25K, each additional dollar raised from an SF resident earned $4 in public funding. A candidate could get a max of $900K from public funds. There were 16 candidates and most took the help (I think Ed Lee the eventual winner did not). But there was a crazy unintended consequence: If a candidate dropped out of the race, he or she was obligated to pay the public money back. So, even though by election time, there were probably 10 of the 16 who had zero chance, they more or less HAD to continue to compaign and divert attention and resources from the viable candidates just so they wouldn’t have dropped out and thus had to repay the money.Crazy eh? I support public funding of elections but hope that smarter people write the laws so that this doesn’t happen on a larger scale (or even small scale I think the SF law will be rewritten before the next election I hope so anyway!)

  5. hfhjksdfgh says:

    ya man

    • Cleber says:

      24 million cant find fulmtile job , 50 million can’t see doctor when sick, 47 million on welfare for food 15 million going backwards in debt.Population of Iraq est 30,500,000Population of Afghanistan est 30,000,000Wonder why the people are angry?Don’t get me wrong, everyone deserves help, just not everyone needs American democracy (war) if thats what they still call it.

      • Woods says:

        Hey, you’re the goto expret. Thanks for hanging out here.

      • Agus says:

        You claim that the tea party will be looked back at in hrtsoiy as more influential than the OWS protests.That is hard to tell.But you are trying to slander, and smear the name of those who support the protest.I support the protest, but I feel it is misdirected.The main problem right now, is that the rich aren’t paying nearly the same proportion of taxes as those in lower income brackets for example Warren Buffet pays fractions of what people who make less than him pay and Mr. Buffet himself disagrees with this.Occupy wall street shows us that capitalism isn’t perfect, and there are losers from the system.All of the pictures posted with notes above, with so called success stories’ who aren’t like the lazy’ occupy wall street people.You see their pictures above, and they are rubbing it in the face of people who are poor, homeless, maybe they don’t have the same supportive family, or a family at all.Maybe they grew up in the inner city somewhere, maybe they grew up in an isolated native reserve, maybe they are from the desolate coal mining towns, where industry once thrived and now has gone to China where they workers are exploitable but we’ll still buy their goods.But listen, I’m not against trade liberalization trading with China, or trading with anyone.I believe we need to trade more with the world, and open our markets more so.But realize, that there are losers in capitalism, and our choice on whether or not to compensate these losers is a personal one.I can’t imagine personally, not helping out a poor person, someone in need.You people are heartless, terrible people, who wouldn’t give a dime to a hobo. That’s your personal viewpoint, and it sickens me.

  6. hfhjksdfgh says:

    MW3 is beast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MW3

  7. Eric, an educator says:

    I think an important point is that wealth is not DISTRIBUTED. Many wealthy people have worked hard to get there, then along come the OWS people and they are saying”give me some, I deserve it.” They do not.

    • Quincy says:

      I am right there with you!

      • Chen says:

        So, let me get this straight: You (correctly) acdwonlekge that OWS is a variety of people with different social and political preferences (although you incorrectly claim that the Tea Party movement is somehow a single ideology) only to make an unsupported blanket statement that wait for it, wait for it they want to end capitalism.And what’s your evidence for this? It sounds more like you’re making up stuff on the fly.Maybe if you were familiar with more OWS-sympathetic people, the you would realize that many are not interested in ending capitalism. In fact, there are some pretty naive Ron Paulish people there who want to end fractional reserve banking and adopt a gold standard.

    • Kirtan says:

      Grayson is right. It’s time Americans saw their politicians for what they are bohgut. Money out of politics is one simple request the rest we can grapple over after this fundamental change. Before we can get money out of politics, special interest and crony capitalism will be the rule. We don’t have capitalism in this country as there is no equal opportunity. 1% has the power, money and politicians. It’s time to take a stand for our children

      • Hasni says:

        The government is esenstial in a free market, but only in it’s most minimalistic form. The way I see it, the government should function similarly to the referee of a basketball game. They are necessary, just to keep the players honest, but they have absolutely NO business actually participating in the game.Just imagine how uninteresting, distasteful, unfair, and ultimately epically failed a basketball game would be if the guy with the whistle is driving in for a layup. With the current level of government interference, that’s exactly what we have right now in what is supposed to be a self-evolving free market. The people who are in charge of the rules are trying to get into the game, and it’s ruining it for everyone everyone.

      • Gene says:

        But Alec is the arbitrary top 1% to be deeonizmd, right?I hate class warfare because it assumes that a whole economic group is homogenous and guilty.There is a big difference between people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Micheal Dell, and Howard Hughes, who were market capitalists who compete, and political capitalists like Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein.It’s a small percentage (.000001%?) who unduly benefit from fiat currency and the Federal Reserve system.

  8. John Conner says:

    99% FTTWWWW

    • Pepen says:

      businessmen will suddenly raise all emeepylos’ wages to that level. It DOES mean that said businessmen will start cutting emeepylos from their payroll and demanding more work & responsibility out of those who were not cut. Setting an artificial $[X.xx]/hr price floor on labor simply means that all those emeepylos and potential emeepylos whose labor is not worth $[X.xx]/hr cannot be hired and will remain out of work. On the flip-side, those who remain behind and still have a job will ultimately be forced to work harder to pick up the remaining slack. This is ultimately a good thing because it means they’re stepping up to earn the additional income they are now getting. Henry Ford didn’t pay his assembly line emeepylos a living wage because he wanted to them to be able to buy his product; that was just grand-standing hogwash to cover up the real rationale behind his offering substantially more pay than was par for the era. He was doing that because he needed to attract the best workforce he could because his product and manufacturing process was (for that era) one of the most advanced and complicated machines being mass-produced for general public consumption. The Model T automobile was as complex to produce as contemporary airplane (A Curtiss JN-1), thus calling for the most skilled workforce Henry could hire. Q: How do you hire and retain the best emeepylos in the industry?A: By offering the best compensation for their work. Henry knew he needed the best work force he could get for his factories and he was willing to pay for it. Capitalism 101. The difference between working in a high-tech factory (Ford was the highest tech in the 1920 s) and working in a gas station (or other low level labor job) is as stark as night & day. A gas station owner doesn’t need the best workforce he can get for his store. He just needs a handful of semi-reliable kids who can fill a work position that hasn’t (yet) been replaced by an automated computer system. His unwillingness to pay a living wage is a reflection of how much actual labor and/or skill he needs in that position. The same goes for farmers who have to rely on illegal alien labor for their harvesting. (because the minimum wage law has artificially priced *legal* labor out of his budget)As I finish typing this, I can already see the leftie responses forming: How dare you claim that some people are worth less than others, yadda-yadda. blah-blah greedy businessmen blah-blah cheap labor yadda-yadda another Mercedes yakety-yakety poor families’ children blah-blah Top Ramen..yakety-yak.

      • Rico says:

        I have hope for the movement. Yes, it is iaotcnhe and messy right now. But it’s also exciting and truly, I believe, grassroots. There are those outliers who will take advantage of any situation someone sent me a video of someone demanding free college tuition, for instance which even I think is too out there (though they have it places in Europe, though the cherished welfare states of those nations lookin kinda shaky). I predict the OWS will die down a bit in the worst of the winter and come back strong in the Spring, hopefully with a clearer focus. And I agree, the fringe element helps no one but you also have to ask the question about the MSM coverage of those parts of it, and the masters they are required to serve. Not to be paranoid, but it’s there.

      • Hassani says:

        Good response! Thanks for wrinitg what I agree with too! They need to grow up and take responsibility for their own choices and behaviors, and accept blame for their screwed up life! Squatting in squalor and acting like pigs, is accomplishing nothing, except for making us hard working taxpayers to hate you Liberal Losers even more!

    • Naveed says:

      On a lighter note I have lived thuorgh this exact same stuff in my life (i.e., seen this movie before) back in the late 60 s and early 70 s. The power to the people mantra, as spewed by the radical, revolutionaries back in the day, did not work THEN and it will not work NOW! Radical, revolutionaries are behind the OWS movement now, (they are slowly naming their own groups in support). Their goal has always been to dismantle capitalism and the US government, and start over . Then, as now, they used individuals to rally around them, get the movement started, cause lots of chaos, and in a word, capitalized (no pun intended) on people’s fears and ignorance. The OWS ideas now (shared by many) are NO different than the ideas (shared by many) back then. Capitalism will NOT be dismantled and the US Government will NOT be torn down, as the only reset needed is a return to Constitutional standards. This will ONLY be done thuorgh the power of the VOTE, by people who will not stand for or allow their country to become an European-style society, as this is where we are headed. How has that worked out for them? There is only ONE system that works, and it has been proven time and time again in history. The lines have been drawn .once again in this country!

      • Fietri says:

        An interesting post, Emily. And I agree with a lot of it; I don’t think that large scale prttesos alone are going to achieve that much. I’d suggest that they’re good for raising awareness, but that awareness isn’t much use if we don’t agree what should be done.And these are heartless global corporations. Just sitting down in their street isn’t going to cause them to change their behaviour there needs to be something more. I’m not suggesting more in the way of the prttesos themselves (the furore around the Mayday/G8 riots has harmed not helped the cause of the protesters, and violence is never desirable). The best way to get the attention of these companies is to hit them where it hurts in the balance sheet.But too many of us are devoted to the grand gesture, the one-off act of defiance which still means we can do everything as we did before style over substance, effort for one event then apathy. Make the changes. Do all you can to stop putting money in their wallets if enough of us do this, we’ll soon get their attention.Allan recently posted..

  9. michelle35020 says:

    I don’t know why they just want give these people what they want. These people work just as hard as anybody else does!!

  10. michelle35020 says:

    I agree with what they are protesting for.

    • Boil says:

      They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over encmooic policies of this country and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of wall street and the other party caters to them as well, that’s the truth of the matter -Alan Grayson Schools P.J. O’Rourke on OWS

      • Prasetya says:

        sometimes your lack of sense and smarts about bunisess and taxes in general scares the willies out of me. In fact, in April of 2010, and in a format even the braindead could handle in pictures.Out of the top 25, four paid no taxes in 2009 because of bunisesses losses, and/or how their corporation is structured so that their profits are derived out of the country. Those four would be GE, B of A, Rubin’s Citibank (guess destroying the housing market wasn’t satisfying enough for Clinton’s Treas Sec’y, he had to also take down Citibank), and Valero Energy who took a bath on their Delaware City refinery in 2009, and laid off 500 workers.Ford paid the lowest % in taxes that year 2.3% because of the losses they took during that era.Here’s the real 2009 world for you, in order of their size, and percentage of taxes paid as relates to their *before deductions* profits. They pay an effective 35% tax rate on determined taxable income, after deductions. And keep in mind that some bunisesses may have not yet filed their 2010 taxes yet including GE.Walmart 34.2%Exxon 47%Chevron 43%GE N/A (BTW, they have finished filing their 2010 taxes yet, so that is still to be determined)Conoco 51%AT T 32.4%B of A n/a (losses)Ford 2.3% (mentioned above, for their sales loss)HP 18.6%Berkshire Hathaway 31% (Warren Buffett is CEO and Chairmain)JP Morgan 27.5%Verizon 10.5% (losses with Vodafone joint venture)McKesson 22.7% (largest health care corp in the world, and 15th largest corp in the US)Cardinal Health 31.4%CVS Caremark 37.3%IBM 25%Wells Fargo 30.3% (had losses, not yet realized at the end of that tax year)United Health Group 34.2%CitiGroup n/a (Rubin what can you say about Rubin that’s good?)Proctor Gamble 26.3%Kroger 35.8%AmerisourceBergen 38% (wholesale drug corp)Costco 36.7%Boeing 23% (apparently your link isn’t all that accurate, or is averaging over several years P L)Valero Energy n/a (as noted/explained above)What can we take away from reality, when stripping out lib/prog anti-capitalist, anti-corporate talking points? That evil corporations do, indeed, pay taxes.. and those in disfavor with the lib/progs (like oil) pay the most. Then profits are distributed to their shareholders, who also pay taxes.However, like all bunisesses and our tax codes, out of country revenue is treated differently/separately/or not at all, and bunisess losses one year mean that a company may not pay one year, while paying big time after another year of success. But then, since most corporations are figuring out that it’s much cheaper to headquarter outside the US for the regulations and tax codes, we’ll find more and more of them doing what GE does.However your classification (and in error when it comes to Boeing) of all corporations being freeloaders is nothing more than ignorant hyperbole.Reply

  11. Ayumi says:

    greedy rich jerks, they won’t ever be satisfied with just money. that’s why most wealthy feel empty.

  12. roar says:

    i liked it 🙂

  13. boxer says:

    i didnt like it

  14. Seth says:

    They are just a bunch of people who want something for nothing. Instead of spending your efforts asking for socialism, try to get a job

    • Anonymous says:

      whty if u be making that money on crak mane

    • Jeremy says:

      @paigesams11 Open your eyes and see past the partisan line that the cotrrpaoions use to put you against your fellow american. Two parties under the thumb of one large corporate agenda. At some point you will realize that neither party can do much to help us.

  15. tha one fool says:

    yeee sell drops mane system wont get ya then

  16. Anonymous says:

    this right here is what is wrong with society!!!

  17. John says:

    This doesn’t make any sense