Shasta College Student Essay by Rebekah Williams: Occupy Redding

On October 11, 2011, nearly 75 people gathered in front of Redding banks as part of the Redding Occupy Wall Street demonstration (Longoria). The demonstration, inspired by the national Occupy Wall Street movement, was organized by the local American Dream Council and Shasta County Citizens for Democracy. The goal of the demonstrators was to promote awareness of the ineffectiveness of trickle-down economics, the political theory that giving economic benefits, such as tax breaks, to the wealthy will eventually also benefit the poor. It is a movement against social inequality and greedy, influential big business, promoting the Robin Hood mentality of taking from the rich to give to the poor. Though Occupy has good intentions, the methods they attempt to spur change are ineffective and disorganized.

The biggest problem with the OWS movement is the lack of a unified front. Dan Schnur of the Washington Post writes, “The difference between a movement and a large group of unhappy people is the ability to articulate specific policy goals.” Schnur points to the Tea Party as an illustration of a movement that evolved from an unorganized group of protesters to a large party that is influencing political legislation in Washington. From what I can see, Occupy Wall Street has not reached this evolution yet. Every article I have read on the OWS movement had a different perception of what exactly the protesters were protesting. If the public isn’t sure what you are protesting about, then you may want to rethink your strategy.

The local OWS movements do not seem to directly support the national movement. The OWS movement that began on Wall Street was a protest against the unfair loans that banks had given and sold, not caring about the long-term effects but only about the quick profit they could make. This led to a general anger toward banks, and now people across the nation are protesting anything to do with banks. Some are significant issues; Bank of America’s new $5 ATM fees were a hot issue in Redding, and were revoked because of the protests. However, the fact that OWS is not protesting this on a national level seems to point to the claim that many OWS-affiliates are simply using the movement as an avenue to promote their own personal agenda. Henninger paints a picture of a ragtag group of homeless squatters “occupying” Wall Street because they have nothing better to do. “An earnest woman with a camcorder bent over to interview a guy, who, lying amid boxes, attempted to explain ‘what we’re about’”. Henninger continues to write, “Only in the modern era of nonstop media exaggeration of anything that isn’t normal could ‘Occupy Wall Street’ transform into a global movement transfixing the world and eliciting the tender mercies of America’s political elite”.

If Occupy Wall Street is to be taken seriously as a political movement, they need to present a unified front with clear, defined priorities and goals. Rather than just complaining about their woes, they need to at least propose plausible solutions to the issues they protest.

Works Cited

Henninger, Daniel. “Squatting on Wall Street.” Wall Street Journal 20 Oct. 2011: A15. Print.

Longoria, Sean. “Redding Occupy Wall Street demonstration draws about 75.” The Record Searchlight, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.

Rapoza, Sally. “Occupy Wall Street vs. the Tea Party.” The Record Searchlight, 15 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.

Schnur, Dan. “What should Occupy Wall Street’s agenda be?” The Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.

Click here for an explanation of the Shasta College student essay project.

Rebekah Williams is a Sociology major studying at Shasta College, and has lived in the Redding area all her life.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar rmv says:

    Thank you Rebekah !! 🙂

  2. Avatar Bob says:

    OWS is an anarchist movement. Therefore it can't be organized. They are distroyers, not builders. Them claim to be the 99% is false, as is all there front info. they are the 1%. The losers of society. They want someone else to pay for there schooling and anything they want. At the same time they don't want to pay for anything. They are losers.

  3. Avatar Canda says:

    I agree with your take on this WSM, Rebekah. I also think you're a very good writer, and enjoyed reading your article. Good luck to you as you pursue your education.

  4. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Great article Rebekah. It's obvious you did some research and pulled from a lot of sources. I love your writing style. You organized the article very well and ended with an excellent, and thoughtful conclusion.

  5. Avatar Laurie O'Connel says:

    As a member of the local Occupy Redding group, I find it bizarre and revealing that you apparently didn't speak directly to a single actual member and instead relied on mainstream media op-eds for this biased and clueless report.

    If you indeed had bothered to perform the essential action of any journalist — interviewing the subject of your article instead of copping other writers' opinions — you would have learned that far from anarchists or "distroyers" [sic], we are your neighbors: teachers, farmers, students and yes, even journalists. We're just paying attention to the inequity you're dismissing.

    Your pretzel logic and attempt to discredit and trivialize the movement just don't add up: The fact that OWS didn't specifically target the B of A $5 fee does not "point to the claim that many affiliates are simply using the movement as an avenue to promote their own personal agenda." Each Occupy group designs its own focus according to the needs of its community within the larger concerns we share.

    We @ Occupy Redding do take inspiration from the OWS movement and are in touch with many other Occupations across the country. Far from being "ineffective and disorganized," this movement has, in less than 3 months, inspired tens of thousands of people to move their money from big banks to credit unions, and has changed the entire national dialogue: This is a significant shift from the GOP's destructive and artificially ginned-up austerity measures to the elephant in the room that no one dared challenge before OWS: the corrupt banking system ruining the economy with its excesses, dictating policy and not paying taxes while double-dealing us into financial ruin in the absence of effective regulatory oversight.

    OWS also takes issue with the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision that conferred the legal benefits and privileges of U.S. citizens to corporations, so corporations are now able to buy elections outright, and multi-million-dollar PACs are being formed and are operating right now.

    Our failed system sustains and increases the vast inequity in wealth and has created an employment vacuum from corporate outsourcing and malfeasance, turning the U.S. into a banana republic with the greatest disparity in wealth of any advanced nation.

    Even after the billion-dollar bailouts, the big banks have continued with massive layoffs and even more massive bonuses and profits, while the rest of the country bleeds dry, we have 7 applicants for each job, and 1 in 2 people are poor or near poor, according to our newest census report.

    This is something you should pay attention to — OWS is. And though you seem to be unaware of it, the world is, in fact, paying attention: Last week, even such a mainstream media outlet as TIME magazine has chosen "The Protester" as its Person of the Year cover feature.

    To repeat the dismissive corporate meme of "They don't know what they're protesting" just displays your own ignorance and lack of homework. It's too easy to parrot a soundbite from Rush Limbaugh or WaPo rather than do the legwork that real journalism requires and actually get out in your community and interview a real human being face to face to find out the real story.

    If you aren't part of the 1% — and I suspect that you aren't, as a Shasta College student —truly it's not that hard to understand this movement. What part of "corporate corruption" don't you get? This wilful ignorance is not only distressing, it's what got us in this mess in the first place.

    Wake up, Rebekah, and if you want to become a journalist, at least do your homework and dare to talk to one of the people you're misrepresenting. You might then offer some real news rather than a carbon copy of the tired old talking heads who are clinging to their privilege and power, denying the earthquake that's toppling their own edifices to the ground.

  6. Avatar Laurie O'Connel says:

    I also found it odd that you mention only one action, and that one was not sponsored by Occupy itself.

    Occupy Redding has sustained a daily Occupation at City Hall and Library Park for the last three months straight, while sponsoring several actions that have drawn crowds in excess of 200: Multiple demonstrations against Chase and Bank of America, radio and television interviews, a demonstration on Bonnyview Bridge, which has been declared structurally unsound yet has not been inspected for several years, to point out our crumbling infrastructure, and two candlelight vigils, one for Scott Olsen, the Marine vet who sustained brain damage from a police-fired teargas projectile, and Marine Bradley Manning, who exposed the corruption of the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

    As we move into the next stage of Occupy with the other Occupations becoming mobile and action focused, we plan to target foreclosure crisis in our community as well as a local company that does research and development for drones used in warfare in the middle East.

    A whole lot's going on right here, Rebekah. Start paying attention to your community, and it's fantastic what you might learn and contribute.

  7. Avatar rachel says:

    you are right we need to do something, i heard about these guys they look like they are actually offering a solution