Three years ago, when the banks took down our economy—and people’s homes, savings and lives with it—we wondered, Why aren’t more people out in the streets?
When the banksters were bailed out with no strings attached—no foreclosure relief, no megabank breakups, no controls on exorbitant salaries—we wondered, Why aren’t more people out in the streets?
And finally when those same corporations returned to record profits but hoarded the cash, keeping credit frozen and jobs scarce—we wondered, What will it take for people far and wide to hit the streets?
It took Occupy Wall Street.
The occupation in downtown New York began with shamefully little and mostly derisive media coverage. But now the pundits, the Democratic Party and the guardians of the wealthy elite are scrambling to keep up with it, make sense of it, challenge it, co-opt it.
They can’t. It’s an exploding star—gathering energy in enormous and potent quantities, and bursting outward to all corners of the country. Occupy Wall Street is now in over 1,400 cities and counting, each grassroots operation reflecting the local culture of protest.
Check out these encampments:
Occupy Salt Lake City
The Occupy Salt Lake City Facebook page has 8,273 members, and the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the number of tents in Pioneer Park has increased from twenty on Friday to sixty-seven as of Monday. The total number of people in the camp was about 150, with the count tripling during daytime demonstrations. Organizers are preparing for a major event on Friday that will include visits from elected officials, speeches from protestors, music and a march.
Occupy SLC marches twice a day—at noon and 6 pm—and then holds its general assembly at 7:30 every evening. They feed homeless people at the camp kitchen, offer a “Free School” to educate people on current issues and have established “a sacred space to worship, meditate and unwind.”
In Austin, hundreds of protesters have maintained a twenty-four-hour-a-day vigil at City Hall and demonstrations have drawn as many as 1,300 people.
Occupy Austin’s General Assembly has laid out goals and demands that include: eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary campaign contributions; effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises (think Volcker rule, for example, or breaking up TBTF banks); and tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.