When a few dozen people began protesting on Wall Street on September 17 to voice their frustration with America’s “corrupt democractic processes,” it struck a nerve with Americans across the country who were fed up with the state of the economy, the government, and their own lives.
There was little those outside of New York could do to support the protests but watch, until six days later, when a Tumblr blog called We Are The 99 Percent sprang up online.
“The 99 percent have been set against each other, fighting over the crumbs the 1 percent leaves behind... Be part of the 99 percent and let the 1 percent know you’re out there,” the site wrote, asking people to submit photos of themselves holding handwritten signs that told their stories about the American dream gone wrong.
Within days, dozens had submitted signs such as: “Married. Two children. Laid off. Hubby laid off. Florida unemployment pays $250.00 a week. Bank of America wants our house! No health care. No retirement. Babylon is falling. I am the 99 percent.”
And at the bottom of nearly every sign, in small print, a scrawled phrase: “Occupy Wall Street.”
These people weren’t on Wall Street, but they hoped their voices could still be heard.
“It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution,” Ezra Klein wrote Tuesday. “It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy -- work hard, play by the rules, get ahead -- has been broken, and they want to see it restored.”
Almost 15 days later, the submissions are appearing at a more rapid pace. At the same time, thousands of people can now protest in their home cities, as Occupy Wall Street has spread nationwide.
Voicing opposition to everything from corporate greed and bank foreclosures to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and unemployment, the Web site Occupy Together estimates there are now “Occupy” movements in 291 cities.
Those protests are expected to grow larger Thursday.
(Follow live updates from the protests here.)
The Daily Kos has this map of Wall Street protests across the country:
In New York, after a night of clashing with police batons and mace, Occupy Wall Street protesters may have another explosive day planned. Before signing off last night, Occupy Wall Street tweeted: “Good night! Tomorrow should be an interesting day.” Thursday’s agenda includes a general assembly and rally with representatives of DC-37, New York’s largest municipal public employee union.
In New Jersey, demonstrators are planning to rally in front of the Goldman Sachs offices in Jersey City and at the statehouse in Trenton Thursday.
The protesters of Occupy Chicago, one of the largest offshoots of Occupy Wall Street, were forced by police to move Wednesday from their encampments outside the Federal Reserve Bank and Chicago Board of Trade, but vowed to be back Thursday.
In Boston, protesters were joined by labor unions and college students at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Wednesday, where they’ve been demonstrating since last Friday. Punk rocker Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls is expected to perform before hundreds Thursday.
In Los Angeles, the city government has come out in support of demonstrators camping out on the lawn of City Hall, with the City Council saying it supported “peaceful and vibrant exercise of First Amendment Rights carried out by `Occupy Los Angeles’.”
The organizers of Occupy Philadelphia say Thursday's demonstration is intended to be a stand against corporate greed.
At home here in Washington, protests which began Saturday in McPherson Square began building momentum Wednesday, as Occupy D.C.demonstrators marched to Capitol Hill, and Thursday, as hundreds rallied in Freedom Plaza.
Watch live video from the protests:
Post reporter @anniegowen is live tweeting from the protests in the Washington:
Below, follow live updates on Occupy protests around the country: