For the past two months or more the media has been inundated with reports on Occupy Wall Street. Live Stream cameras, being booted from their home base in Zucotti Park, and a bevy of other chapters following a similar trajectory, has insured consistent visibility. Even with all the coverage and the hoopla though, many have had a difficult time assessing the actual message behind Occupy Wall Street. Since the protest's inception, the public has been able to glean that the group is focused on, among other things, minimizing the gap between the rich and the poor. The manner in which they intend to achieve this goal is more ambiguous.
A recent conversation concerning Occupy led one friend to compare the demonstration to a “protest fair,” in which people display, via posterboards, their various hypotheses regarding the wrongs ailing the nation. The comment seems to encapsulate the turn that the media seems to have taken toward the demonstrations in recent weeks as journalists continue to struggle to decipher a unified message outside of the camps.
Some media groups have illuminated the broken Occupy message through video and print interviews of the protesters that range in topicality from religion to the unfair distribution of government funding. Others would vilify such coverage as missing the point of the movement, asserting that the group has succeeded simply by starting a conversation. After over eight weeks of protests and exhaustive coverage, the fact that OWS has gotten people talking is the one fact that everyone, even the divided protesters, could probably agree on.
“Our best hope is inspiring other people to take action to bring economic justice,” said Bill Dobbs, Occupy Wall Street’s press liaison in New York.
Where the inspiration ends and the action begins is the latest question facing the movement. Since being evicted from Zucotti Park and moving into an office space a block from the New York Stock exchange, there has been considerable discussion on the goals at the headquarter.
According the Washington Post, “Experts predict Occupy groups may spend the next few months focusing on smaller actions while waiting for the summer, when the Republican and Democratic conventions would give protesters a worldwide audience.”
Exactly the argument they’ll present at the conventions remains hazy though and members of the movement have expressed resentment toward ongoing demands for concrete goals. "Many of us in the movement don’t want a list of demands because that is empowering someone else to create a change for us,” said Brett Goldberg a volunteer of the movement in CNN.
The Associated Press seemed to ignore the wishes of the group yesterday; however, when it consolidated some of the proposals of Occupy Wall Street groups around the globe into a tidy list.
Here is a selection:
—Reinstate portions of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act that were repealed in 1999. The act had prevented bank holding companies from getting into certain other types of financial ventures, effectively separating investment banking and commercial banking.
— Freeze all property foreclosures; cap interest charges at 6 percent or less.
— Reduce military spending; stop wars that drain financial resources.
— Reparations; make government payments to the descendants of African slaves to reset a broken, unbalanced economy.
— Ban big corporate donations to campaigns and set equal spending limits.
— Instill a fair conscience and a sense of morality into the minds of big decision makers.
— Revamp the tax code to take a higher percentage of multimillionaires’ earnings. Ensure that Wall Street and big companies pay higher business taxes.
— Equalize public education by paying fairly and proportionately for the entire U.S. population, regulating spending by student and not by school district.
Which of these topics, if any, will take priority when the group reconvenes at the conventions is a mystery, even to the protesters themselves.
“It may be foggy, and you may not know where it’s heading, and it may have false starts and abrupt endings, and be weird and different and look and smell strange,” said volunteer Drew Hornbein to CNN “But it’s better than just continuing along thinking that something’s going to happen.”
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