A year of Occupy Wall Street

The movement now celebrates its first anniversary.

by Hemang Sharma

Sept. 17 marked the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Protesters returned to hotspots like Wall Street and Zuccotti Park in New York, places notorious for the inception of the movement that brought global-wealth inequality and student debt into our national vernacular. The protestors brought ceremonials like balloons, banners and confetti, which were complimented by barricades and handcuffs, courtesy of the New York Police Department, topped off with citations of disorderly conduct and more than 180 arrests.

OWS struck a chord with protesters nationally as rallies were reported in nearly every major city, including our own Minneapolis. The movement that helped to define the now iconic 99 percent and the 1 percent, has seen its share of backlash and chaos over the past year as it spread internationally, branching out as Occupy Toronto and Occupy London.

Plaguing the movement, however, is a realization of how institutionalized the problems of economic inequality are, which have caused dwindling participation in long-term protests. OWS, no matter its success or failure, will leave its legacy in providing a political, grassroots outlet devoid of an official party affiliation or widespread interest group funding. The movement continues to face a push back, often from lackluster media influences and historical stereotypes barring many young people from gaining a foothold in real legislative change. The movement has now been left for dead, without a clearly defined goal, muddled up in an array of complex issues. Despite its genuine interests in greater economic equality and a more just society, the fact is that the economy works in a highly complicated manner, where deeply rooted factors, other than just greed, also create our economic reality, especially as students.

A year later, the income inequality still exists, student debt is rising, and unemployment figures continue to see little improvement. What started as a push in the right direction will now leave its mark in the minds of people who have realized the movement’s goal to resist oppression from corporate and political powers.