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Ear to the Ground

Occupy Wall Street: One Year Later

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Posted on Sep 17, 2012

At least 100 Occupy protesters have been arrested Monday on the first anniversary of the movement after attempting to block access to the New York Stock Exchange by forming a “human wall” at one of the events to celebrate the occasion. Several hundred activists took part in the morning march along Broadway in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district. Demonstrators were met by police and, in a sight all too familiar from last year’s protests, clashes again ensued.

The New York Times:

Police officers and protesters squared off at various points on the blocks near the Stock Exchange. At various points protesters tried to block sidewalks leading to the Stock Exchange, but were dispersed by the police. Officers had set up barricades on several streets leading to the exchange and were asking identification from workers seeking to gain access.

In one confrontation, several hundred people marched slowly along Broadway and as part of the group passed Wall Street, a line of officers separated the march into two parts. A few moments later, officers approached a man who had been loudly yelling objections to the metal police barricades that cordoned off Wall Street. The officers grabbed the man, who began shouting “I did nothing wrong,” then removed him. As they were leading him away, a line of officers pushed a large crowd of people, including news photographers, away from the arrest.

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Other events have also been scheduled throughout the day (as well as over the past weekend) to observe what’s been dubbed the Occu-versary.

Although some people have claimed the movement has slowed down since the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park was raided and torn down by police in November—indeed, there are those who have questioned whether it still even exists—“Regulating the Poor” author Frances Fox Piven argues that, in actuality, the movement pitting the 99 percent against the 1 percent has just begun.

Frances Fox Piven via The Guardian:

Nevertheless, I think the ready conclusion that the protests have fizzled is based on a misconception of the nature of movements, a misconception influenced by the metaphors we rely on. We think of these eruptions as something like explosions, Fourth of July fireworks perhaps that shoot into the sky, dazzle us for a moment, and then quickly fade away. The metaphor leads us to think of protest movements as bursts of energy and anger that rise in a great arc and then, exhausted, disappear.

...Movements that may appear to us in retrospect as a unified set of events are, in fact, irregular and scattered. Only afterwards do we see the underlying common institutional causes and movement passions that mark these events so we can name them, as the abolitionist movement, for example, or the labor movement or the civil rights movement. I think Occupy is likely to unfold in a similar way.

And it will not subside quickly. Like earlier great movements that changed the course of American history, Occupy is fueled by deep institutional lacunae and inconsistencies. The mainly young people who are Occupy represent a generation coming of age in societies marked by an increasingly predatory and criminal financial capitalism that has created mass indebtness and economic insecurity. At the same time, the policies that once softened the impact of economic change (which some commentators once thought were necessary for the “legitimation” of capitalism) are being rolled back.

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Truthdig’s complete coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement over the past year can be found here.

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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