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.
Henninger, Daniel. “Squatting on Wall Street.” Wall Street Journal 20 Oct. 2011: A15. Print.
Longoria, Sean. “Redding Occupy Wall Street demonstration draws about 75.” redding.com. The Record Searchlight, 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.
Rapoza, Sally. “Occupy Wall Street vs. the Tea Party.” redding.com. The Record Searchlight, 15 Oct. 2011. Web. 18 Oct. 2011.
Schnur, Dan. “What should Occupy Wall Street’s agenda be?” washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2011.
Rebekah Williams is a Sociology major studying at Shasta College, and has lived in the Redding area all her life.