Wall Street is on notice. Since September 17, protesters have occupied a nearby park and have been protesting along the Financial District’s sidewalks and around the police barricades that surround the Stock Exchange, clogging up the morning commute with chants of “We! Are! The 99 Percent!” On Wednesday, as many as 10,000 occupiers, union members, students and fed-up others marched downtown together. This latest threat that the neighborhood faces is not one of terrorism, or of another bubble bursting, but of a more moral kind of default, announced by those who no longer want to live in the kind of society that it represents. And among the growing number of people now occupying Zuccotti Park—which they’ve renamed Liberty Plaza, as it used to be called—no plans as yet have been made to leave.
Is Washington, DC, next?
Just as the uprising in Tunisia led to others in Egypt, Syria and Bahrain, the Wall Street occupation is sparking dozens like it around the country: in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and hundreds more. This protest is swelling into a full-fledged movement. It’s reminding people that power, even corporate power, depends on the consent of the governed, and that injustice can be resisted by strategic, coordinated action. Probably the most promising of these is the campaign to begin an occupation at Freedom Plaza in Washington on October 6—a decade after the war in Afghanistan began. A group of seasoned activists has been planning it for months already, since before the Wall Street occupation was even proposed by Adbusters. And like those in Liberty Plaza, they are intent on staying as long as it takes to be heard.
Before taking to the streets, the October 6 group gained the support of such familiar mass-mobilizers as the Green Party and Veterans for Peace, as well as newer ones like Peaceful Uprising and US Uncut — though they stress that this is a coalition of individuals above all. As individuals, they’ll be having open discussions on Freedom Plaza about 15 "core issues," ranging from corporatism and militarism at the top on down to transportation.
Several of the October 6 organizers have been strolling around the Liberty Plaza encampment, watching, taking part and helping out. They have a bit of a leg up on some things that have confounded the younger Wall Street occupiers. One, Tarak Kauff, helped arrange a fiscal sponsor to handle the thousands of dollars in donations that have been coming to the plaza from around the world. Another, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin, has helped train women for talking to the reporters who are always roving through the plaza for interviews. They’re paying close attention to what’s working and what isn’t, and trading ideas with each other about what they should be sure to do differently in DC.
The organizers of October 6 have been trying hard to avoid the trappings typical of left-wing protests, just as those at Wall Street have, and they similarly want to see things unfold organically. But they’ve also thought through ahead of time a lot of the things that the Wall Street planners left to be worked out on the fly, or not at all: arranging for port-a-potties, securing a permit with the Park Police, and setting up a stage and a sound system. Key committees are already in place. More than $30,000 has been raised.