Who are the Occupy Wall Street protesters and what do they hope to achieve? If you don’t know, you aren’t alone– even news anchors have a hard time answering basic questions about this growing political movement.
Occupy Wall Street protesters have been variously portrayed as “un-American” malcontents, a liberal answer to the Tea Party, or simply aimless young people looking for a good time. AdBusters, the online magazine credited with inspiring the original protests on September 17th, has lofty but vague goals for the movement:
#OCCUPYWALLSTREET is thundering across America, threatening to morph into a full fledged national movement. Channeling the nonviolence of the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and the bottom-up collective decision making of the Spanish acampadas, we vow to end the monied corruption of our democracy.
Today I decided to visit the epicenter of the movement, Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, to see for myself what these demonstrations are about.
What I found was a diverse group of Americans– in terms of age, ethnicity and lifestyle– who came together to vent their frustrations in a peaceful way. There were idealistic young people and older men with grizzled beards that fit the definition of “hippies,” but there were also families, musicians, artists and just about anyone else you could imagine.
I was fascinated by the protest signs, which ranged from clever jokes to deeply personal stories. They promoted environmentalism, tax reform and “free hugs,” reflecting the diversity of the protesters.
>> Scroll down for photos of the men and women occupying Zuccotti Park and their eye-catching signs.
What do you think of the Occupy Wall Street protests?
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