Archive for Thursday, November 17, 2011

Now what? Few tangible effects of Wall St. protests

November 17, 2011


— Everywhere, it seems, people want to weigh in about the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country, from CEOs and politicians to your next-door neighbor. So far the talk has translated into little action.

Two months into the movement, with police dismantling the encampments one by one, city by city, few politicians or policymakers have publicly taken up the protesters’ cause and done anything to address corporate excesses and economic inequality.

But some political observers say the demonstrators have changed the conversation in the U.S., and that is a big first step.

“They’ve shifted the center of gravity of the debate so that the whole question of wealth and privilege is now being discussed,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the Washington political think tank. “In a democracy, what people are talking about matters.”

Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort, a Democrat who was among those arrested when protesters were expelled from an Atlanta park last month, said he is not troubled by the absence of any major tangible change.

“The Occupy movement is a relative baby. It’s just a few months old,” he said. “The most important thing it has done is to change the conversation in this country. You can’t have any policy change, you can’t have any legislative change, until the debate is changed.”

Examples of real, measurable Occupy-inspired change in the political sphere are hard to come by.

In Rhode Island, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse noted that Occupy activists encouraged customers to fight back recently against fees imposed by major banks — a fight that ended with Bank of America and its competitors backing down. Whitehouse is trying to channel the anger that has bubbled up in the Occupy movement against big banks as he seeks support for a bill to crack down on credit card interest rates.

Union leaders say the Occupy movement has also brought a spark of optimism and energy to organized labor after a summer of setbacks and assaults on their bargaining power.

“The Occupy movement has framed the fight,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union. “They’ve totally changed the debate within a 30-day period.” She added: “It has impacted expectations among people who were beaten down.”

In fact, labor leaders insist the Occupy movement’s message of economic inequality was a factor earlier this month in Ohio, where voters overwhelmingly repealed a law curtailing public employees’ right to collective bargaining.

But political experts are skeptical of that claim.

“That’s a stretch,” said Paul Beck, a political science professor at the Ohio State University in Columbus. “The sentiment of Ohioans on that bill very much precedes any of the Occupy Wall Street activities and their spinoffs in various cities.”


jmadison 6 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps the OWS folks should have a demonstration against a group that takes medicaid money--without permission--from disabled children in Michigan. It appears that SEIU in Michigan is doing just that.

Getaroom 6 years, 7 months ago

This article has missed the point, OWS is only the tip of the iceberg revealing the unrest and frustration of the largest percentage of working people in this country. There is much more to come in the near future and especially now that the military like actions of police forces have become involved. The Vier Nam protests will pale compared to what has yet to be seen.

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 7 months ago

Didn't Martin Luther King say something about a dream? Have there been significant changes since that speech? The dream may not come true today. Or tomorrow. And it may not come true in it's entirety. But dreams do come true.

pepper_bar 6 years, 7 months ago

How can this be about Occupy? It doesn't say anything about making overnight camping in public parks legal, but that seems to be the main focus of Occupy Lawrence.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 7 months ago

They be back on November 23rd = YES!!! For JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS JOBS

Mass actions on Nov 23 will demand jobs, jobs, jobs, NOT super cuts to benefit the bankers.

You cannot evict an idea whose time has come. Occupy everywhere!

The peoples fight back has reached a new level.

Occupy 4 Jobs Network urges: All out to defend our movement!

On Tuesday, November 15 thousands of people were in the streets again to respond to the brutal, coordinated police attack on the center of the Occupy Wall Street movement - Zuccotti Park – at 1 am Tuesday morning. The mass arrests and destruction came without warning or any provocation. When word went out of the police attack immediately supporters descended on the Wall Street area of Manhattan.

At Zuccotti Park, activists resisted the police destruction and theft of their personal belongings. There were beatings and 200 mass arrests.The media was illegally barred from the area during the police assault.

Refusing to be intimidated, the movement quickly regrouped and mobilized on Tuesday. Activist lawyers rushed into court for a temporary restraining order. The city immediately appealed the order and not surprisingly the courts sided with billionaire Bloomberg. The police and courts, just like the Pentagon, defend the interests of the 1%.

This is a struggle that will not be decided by appointed judges defending property rights in the isolation of courtrooms.

Similar coordinated police attacks were carried out against peoples Occupations in a half dozen cities in the past few days.

The people have a right to assemble and demand a redress of their grievances. We have a right to meet, gather and occupy public space. We have a right to demand jobs at a living wage, union protection, free healthcare, quality education, decent housing and an end to wars for corporate profit. But these rights have to be asserted and won in mobilized struggles in the streets again and again.

Millions of people across the U.S. sympathize with this new Occupy Wall Street movement. Outraged by these criminal police attacks many more youth, working people and unemployed are beginning to move into active resistance. Repression breeds resistance.

Unions across the country have called for support. Community groups and students are mobilizing. These united actions are a Peoples Strike.

On Wed. Nov 23 be in the streets again when the illegal congressional Super Committee of Democrats and Republicans announces their Super CUTS to balance the budget. Congress serves the 1%.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

No tangible effects? Is that why we get many articles and reports a day about the Occupy Movement, while the wholly Koch-Bros. co-opted TeaParty is fast becoming a footnote to history?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

So you approve of Wall Street (AKA Mayor Bloomberg and his police force) attacking Occupy Wall Street?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 7 months ago

I generally approve of the laws being enforced. The innocent should be protected and the guilty punished.

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