Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement have been marching, sitting, walking, sleeping, chanting, dancing, drumming and proclaiming in and around Liberty Plaza for eight straight days. Planning for the protest began in July with a call for peaceful revolution by the magazine Adbusters, with the hope that complacent Americans might adopt some of the outrage and effectiveness of the Arab Spring.
The Adbusters writers had a clear aim:
On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand? The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY, we’re doomed without it.
But the leaderless movement, which at any one time must be counted by hundreds rather than thousands, is held together by enterprising volunteers who are coordinating the protest via various working groups. The message about a presidential commission has been completely lost. Media attempting to report on the protest grabbed quotes like, “I want to create spectacles,” and “Oh, we’re just here, like, you know, protesting what’s going on.”
After spending a Saturday at the protest, it did seem the various grievances nursed by protesters had a common theme: a vague but certain notion that the richest percentile of the country remains fat and happy as the going-on-five-year-old recession continues to batter the middle and working class.
What do the protesters want to do about it? Less clear! But we found some suggestions in the hand-made signs they carried over the weekend.