Occupy Wall Street Gives Voice to the Frustrated

October 7, 2011

In what has been a year of historic protests, campaigns and revolutions, a movement has arrived in the US -- Occupy Wall Street. Born out of an organic frustration about the nation’s struggling economy, the role of financial institutions and the unrelenting unemployment rate, people took to the New York streets on Sept. 18 to have their voices heard.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Occupy Wall Street movement grew to its largest size yet with about 15,000 protesters gathering in New York. Similar protests have also begun in major cities, including Washington, DC, Columbus, Chicago and Los Angeles. These protests show no signs of slowing down, either.

Rather than reaching a stagnant status almost three weeks after the initial launch and with no clear asks or demands from the groups, Occupy Wall Street is maintaining a strong presence and continuing its visceral response to issues that pose an imposition on the average American citizen.

Could it be that to articulate the demands of the group is so difficult because the actual problem is a messy and difficult one? Or is it that because, according to the Occupy Wall Street website, the groups participating in the protests “are an open, participatory and horizontally organized process through which [we] are building the capacity to constitute [ourselves] in public as autonomous collective forces?” Perhaps the reason is a little of both; however, the lack of a declaration of specific demands may prove to be a detriment once the allure of protesting diminishes.

Some, such as Dr. Cornel West are calling the movement the U.S. autumn response to the Arab Spring. Whatever it’s being called, all can agree, including President Barack Obama that Occupy Wall Street shows a “broad-based frustration” among Americans. While tactics or strategies on how best to effectively communicate grievances are being disputed by media pundits, the Muslim Public Affairs Council fully supports Americans’ civic engagement.

“I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country … and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place,” said President Obama.

In a time when President Obama was elected on the platform of “Yes we can!” the American people are taking it to the streets where they can impose on themselves the task and responsibility of saying and doing just that. It is a difficult task to call out the big giants when it seems everyone, including your own government, is against you. Only time will tell if this movement will go anywhere; or if it will fall on deaf ears while the corporate giants laugh all the way to the banks. 

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