Occupy Wall Street protests, movement continues to spread one month later

October 17, 2011

More than 900 cities across the globe took part in Occupy Wall Street movement-related civil disobedience over the weekend. As Karla Adams reported from London:

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York, protesters here entered a second day of demonstrations Sunday as they reiterated their anger at the global financial system, corporate greed and government cutbacks.

Rallies rippled across the globe on Saturday as more than 900 cities in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America took part in the worldwide demonstration, including Washington, Toronto, Denver, and Chicago, where more than 175 people were arrested early Sunday for failing to leave a park after it closed.

In cities around the world, a fraction of the protesters who joined the rallies Saturday were hunkering down for a second night of “occupation.”

It’s unclear how long protesters plan to stay, but it could be awhile: for example, according to local reports, hundreds in New Zealand are camping for the next six weeks in Auckland’s Aotea Square, while Toronto’s St. James park is now known as “tent city central.”

In London, the cobblestone courtyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, was filled with about 70 colorful tents and demonstrators who vowed to protest indefinitely.

Sitting next to her 11-month-old daughter on a blanket covered with toys, Lucy Aitken Read, a 29-year-old charity worker, said she hoped to attend the rally every day. “We hope to last the distance,” she said, adding “I really believe in a kind of fair and equal society and I’m here especially today because I think it’s really within our grasp.”

The worldwide uproar was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement and Spanish activists, known as “the Indignants,” who began protesting in May, arguing for governments to stop heeding the concerns of financial markets while ignoring the plights of their own people.

The Occupy Wall Street movement turned one month old Monday, and has $300,000 in a growing war chest to celebrate. As AP reported:

The month-old Occupy Wall Street movement continues to grow, with nearly $300,000 in the bank and participants finding satisfaction in the widening impact they hope will counter the influence on society by those who hold the purse strings of the world’s economies.

The expanding occupation of land once limited to a small Manhattan park in the shadow of the rising World Trade Center complex continued through the weekend, with hundreds of thousands of people rallying around the world and numerous encampments springing up in cities large and small.

Will President Obama give his support to the Occupy Wall Street movement? As Ezra Klein reported:

Since its launch, Occupy Wall Street has gotten support from some high profile, and occasionally even unexpected, sympathizers. Neutral Milk Hotel's Jeff Mangum headed down to the protest to play a set. Kanye West and Russell Simmons toured Zuccotti Park. Personal-finance guru Suze Orman wrote to "public say thank you" to the protesters. Mohammed el-Erian, who leads one of the largest bond trading firms in the world, declared himself in agreement with the protester's desire to shrink the finance sector.

But all that was child's play. Kid's stuff. A march that just goes to the end of the block and back. Because it looks increasingly like Occupy Wall Street is roping in the biggest prize of all: President Obama.

My colleague Peter Wallsten reports that "President Obama and his team have decided to turn public anger at Wall Street into a central tenet of their reelection strategy." That isn't to say you'll find the president in Zuccotti Park with a sign and a sleeping bag anytime soon. But if Occupy Wall Street began lending out its organizers -- at least the ones that want to participate in the political system -- as campaign strategists, I think it's a good bet they would sound something like this: “12 months from now, as people make the decision about who to go vote for, the gut check is going to be about, ‘Who would make decisions more about helping my life than Wall Street?’ ”

But that's no protester. That's David Plouffe, the president's primary political adviser. And he is, to some degree, trying to make a virtue out of necessity. In 2008, Obama had heavy support from Wall Street. In 2012, after the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial-regulation reform bill, he doesn't. Instead, as the New York Times reported over the weekend, it's Mitt Romney who has emerged as Wall Street's darling: He's raised $1.5 million from the industry, while Obama is stuck below $300,000. The change is perhaps starkest at Goldman Sachs, which gave Obama's 2008 campaign more money than any other private employer in the country. So far, Romney has hauled in about $350,000 from the firm's employees. Obama has gotten less than $50,000.

Obama has not been nearly as tough on Wall Street as Wall Street seems to think he's been. The exception the finance industry taken to the applause lines in his occasional forays into populism and to a financial-regulation bill that works to contain blowups in their industry rather than fundamentally reshape it, is striking. But now that Wall Street has a new prince and Obama is a man in desperate search of a winning message, the president's reelection team is finding a lot to like in the chord Occupy Wall Street has struck.

More from The Washington Post

Wonkblog: The wonkiest signs from Occupy Wall Street

ComPost: Occupy Wall Street’s ‘60s envy

BlogPost: Occupy Writers: Authors get behind the protest movement

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