Political Reporter: ‘Occupy’ hits one-month mark

A night beneath the stars and lights of New York City is a fantasy for most. A trip like that can get expensive and is not one most could afford to take. What if you could overnight in the city that never sleeps, bask in Times Square and walk 5th Avenue and Broadway for free?

Thousands of people from all walks of life, including some college students like you and me, have already done just that — and plan on staying for as long as it takes for their protest to make a change in the way things are done financially in this country.

Monday marked the end of the first month of the movement known as Occupy Wall Street, which first began when about 150 people took up residence in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

The demonstration rapidly took shape and gained structure to become what we can now recognize today in the news, on social media platforms and in cities all over the world as a major movement. Protests are currently being conducted in an estimated 100 U.S. cities and 1,500 cities internationally.

What is so amazing about the Occupy Wall Street resistance movement is that it has attracted so many individuals from diverse backgrounds and brought them together in one place to make their voices heard.

Some who used to participate in the daily grind of finance have had a change of heart in light of the recent bailouts of our banking infrastructure.

“I believe it’s time for a fairer system that provides health care, education and opportunity for all, and rejects corporate influence over government,” said Karanja Gacuca from Liberty Square, a former Wall Street analyst who now organizes with Occupy Wall Street.

People are fed up with being the proletariat of this country, working so hard to acquire what little they may have. These are the so-called “99 percent” of this country that get up at the crack of dawn to face an hour or longer commute to work for less than what they feel they’re worth. All of these lives persist without any recognition or spotlight, while executives of failing companies live lavishly after being bailed out by taxpayer money. Our money.

Capital corporate excess is what has America angry, and with a major election looming Americans want to see what their government is made of. Wall Street is a highly visible setting to stage a protest. It’s no question that the protestors have the attention of law-making constituents, but whether their protests will produce any change has yet to be seen.

If anything should have come from the recent recessions and the debt ceiling’s debate, it is the realization that government is like a teenager in its unbridled spending of its funds. Our government needs to be reminded that it was established to serve those whom, this may come as a shock, are not in the richest 1 percent of our population. It’s not even the leftover “99 percent.” It’s all of us, everyone who lives in this country and its citizens abroad.

Those who spend their hours on the streets of New York, Philadelphia and hundreds of cities internationally are fighting for a better world despite stacked odds and strong opposition. Whether you agree with their tactics or not, you are most likely a member of the 99 percent and it is imperative for the occupiers to stand firm to show they mean business.

Politicians will not be easily rattled, as they deal with many such organized protests on a regular basis. Only through their unwavering determination will the occupiers gain respect.

Those who protest obviously feel that they are on the losing side of life and their backs are up against the proverbial wall. An argument can be made that they are taking a retroactive approach to finding work in their field by spending all of their time picketing the companies they’d love to work for. There is also evidence that our current way of life is not sustainable and things need to be restructured before we’re all out camping on the streets of our own free will — or not.

– Ben Smith

Junior journalism major

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