“Occupy Wall Street” protests take to the streets

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“We are the 99 percent!” shouted protesters in downtown Chicago. The 99 percent, according to one protester, was anyone who belongs to a household that made an income of below $364,000 dollars last year. The remaining one percent, the richest one percent of the population, makes up the rest of the population. The nationwide protests, coined “Occupy Wall Street” started on Sept. 17, with 1,000 protesters in attendance. The group marched to Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, and camped out there. The group’s official website states, “OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1 percent of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.” Many, however, have accused the Occupy Wall Street protests of being unorganized or even pointless. “Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself,” said presidential hopeful, Herman Cain. “It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed." Some have stated that the protesters seem conflicted over their goals, and unorganized. “These demonstrations, I honestly don't understand what they're looking for,” said Cain. “To me, they come across more as anti-capitalism.” The protests, which have now gone on for over a month, have sprung up in different cities all over the United States. According to the official website, Occupy Wall Street has protests in over 1,500 cities worldwide.  

Close to home: Occupy South Bend

The protests have drawn closer and closer to Bethel College, first to Chicago, then to South Bend. The protesters in South Bend first met on Oct. 8 outside of the Morris Civic Theater, and were seemingly undeterred by the rain and cold weather. Their makeshift tent-homes stood downtown, where they stayed the night and traded shifts to be sure that someone was present at all times. “For every 15 cars that would go by and honk and cheer we’d get one that booed,” Craig Deboard said. “Support is building and building and building.” The protests in South Bend had over 100 protestors, and they’ve come prepared.  They’ve pitched tents, created water-resistant signs, and even streamed a live feed of the protest on the internet. “This is a movement to get the politicians to open their eyes,” Deboard said. “We are not against all corporations. We are not anti-capitalism.” Signs read: “We are the 99 percent” and “Banks do not equal people” A woman at the protest told the Beacon she’d placed dozens of flyers under the windshield wipers of Bethel students’ cars, and several had come out to see what “Occupy South Bend” was all about. Overall, Deboard and others gathered considered the protests to be widely effective.  The group present was a diverse bunch. “We have people from every single walk of life,” Deboard said. The South Bend group finally dispersed on Tuesday, Dec. 6. They cited via their official Facebook page a self-acclaimed “statement of victory,” writing: “As we dismantle the tents we are not going away. Now is the time to take the ideas and the experience in building community into our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools.”
A flag hangs next to an "Occupy South Bend" tent pitched in downtown South Bend.
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