Occupy Together: First Day the Whole World Protested
by Jeanine Czaja
October 15, 2011 may go down as the first day of united global protest in the history of the world.
The Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York on September 17th has literally spread all over the world in one month. The same technology that enabled corporations to unite to globalize the economy has also enabled the people to unite to protest what they perceive as excessive corporate greed with government collaboration. Income inequality produced by this coalition of the “1%” is one of the main complaints of protesters. As opposed to the 1%, the protesters call themselves the “99%” and claim that the elites have been redistributing wealth upward into their own pockets for decades.
Protests have taken place at over 100 American cities and in many cities overseas; according to early reports, demonstrations took place in Japan, England, Germany, Australia, and dozens of other countries. Al Jazeera reported that demonstrations in Italy turned violent, where “tens of thousands nicknamed “the indignant” have marched…” While protests in America have remained peaceful in spite of arrests and pepper spray, protesters in the Middle East have had to pay with their lives since the beginning of the Arab Spring in February 2011. Occupy Wall Street may have sparked the current wave of worldwide protests, but it must be viewed in the context of previous uprisings in the Middle East, which are still in the process of shifting the balance of power there.
According to the Brookings Institute, the revolts that spread across the Middle East were an historic first. After Tunisians ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, on January 14, protesters were inspired to revolt in Algeria, Libya, Jordan, and Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was ousted after decades of rule. Common grievances included government corruption, widespread unemployment, and repression of freedoms.
The Arab Spring continues, and in some places it is being met with brutal repression. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has killed about 3,000 protesters in the past seven months. The most recent example is of two mourners killed by police on October 14, 2011 during a funeral service for a ten year-old boy killed in a previous protest, according to Al-Jazeera. Greece has been in a state of constant protest over austerity measures and privatization, according to CNN, and in early Octobers shut down Athens in a general strike.
Global Protests and Technology
This revolution, it appears, will be televised. But this time a nation that has come to distrust its own news media will also be relying on underground reports. Video is being live-streamed directly into people’s homes as events unfold on Global Revolution. The unofficial site for the movement is Occupy Together, which lists ongoing actions and now offers training in Direct Democracy. “We Are the 99%” on Tumblr has an archive of real people’s moving stories about how the economic meltdown has impacted their lives and Twitter is humming with news of the movement, using the hastag #occupywallstreet.
October 15, 2011 may go down in history as the first day the whole world protested as one. Where it will end up will be left for future generations to analyze.
“Occupy Protest Turns Violent in Rome,” Al Jazeera, October 15, 2011
“Syrian Forces Kill Mourners in Damascus,” Al-Jazeera, October 15, 2011
“Occupy Protests Held Around the World”, Al-Jazeera, October 15, 2011
John Psaropoulos, “Marchers Shut Down Central Athens in Financial Protest,” CNN, October 5, 2011
Shadi Hamid, “Tunisia, Egypt, Arab World Need Bold U.S. Support for Democracy, Not Mixed Messages,” January 26, 2011
Global Revolution: Live Stream Video
CBS News, “Occupy Wall Street Protests Go Global,” The Early Show, October 15, 2011