The Occupy movement is an international protest movement which is primarily directed against social and economic inequality. The movement started in Kuala Lumpur on July 30, 2011, with Occupy Dataran, followed by New York City and San Francisco on September 17, 2011, with Occupy Wall Street and Occupy San Francisco. By October 9 Occupy protests had taken place or were ongoing in over 95 cities across 82 countries and over 600 communities in the United States. As of November 4 the Meetup page "Occupy Together" listed "Occupy" communities in 2,464 towns and cities worldwide.
Initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters the movement is partly inspired by the Arab Spring, especially Cairo's Tahrir Square protests, and the Spanish Indignants. Occupy protests take their name from Occupy Wall Street, and commonly use the slogan We are the 99%, the #Occupy hashtag format, and organize through websites such as "Occupy Together". The protests, which have been described as a "democratic awakening", are difficult to distill to a few demands. Background
On May 30, 2011, a leader in the Spanish Indignants movement, inspired by the Arab Spring, made a call for a worldwide protest on October 15. In mid-2011, the Canadian-based group Adbusters Media Foundation, best known for its advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, address a growing disparity in wealth, and the absence of legal repercussions behind the recent global financial crisis. According to the senior editor of the magazine, "[they] basically floated the idea in mid-July into our [email list] and it was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world, it just kind of snowballed from there." The protest received additional attention when the internet group Anonymous encouraged its followers to take part in the protests, calling protesters to "flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and Occupy Wall Street". They promoted the protest with a poster featuring a dancer atop Wall Street's iconic Charging Bull. The first protest was held at Zuccotti Park in New York City on September 17, 2011.
Aims and methods
Initially journalists such as Shannon Bond for the Financial Times had said it was hard to discern a unified aim for the movement, though by later October Adbusters had been trying to "rally it around a single, clear demand" for a Robin Hood tax, with a global march in support of the tax planned for October 29.
Adbusters have been encouraging protestors to use tactical frivolity by improvising theatrics, pranks and "subversive performances". The movement has been compared to the Situationists and the Protests of 1968, although according to Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn, this time the "stakes are much higher"
Indeed, the movement has gone further to create a diverse, multi-media culture of art production and distribution, which is being archived and gathered by institutions such as the National Museum of American History and New York Historical Society. The purpose of much of the art produced is to visually impact the mainstream through imagery to create solidarity and unity among the 99%.
Activists have used web technologies and social media like IRC, Facebook, Twitter, and Meetup to coordinate the events. Indymedia have been helping the movement with communications, saying there have been conference calls on skype with participants from up to 80 locations. The progressive provider May First/People Link offered cost-free memberships for dozens of groups, including in Iran and Germany, to host websites, emails, and email lists securely.
Much of the movement's work is performed by "working groups," composed of volunteers, with important decisions being taken at "General assemblies." To facilitate the making of decisions on a daily basis, some sites, including New York and London, have begun to use a "spokes council," which is a council in which each working group designates a "spoke," who is recallable by the working group at any time and is not authorized to make decisions for the working group. The designated spoke sits in the spokes council circle while remaining members of the working group sit behind the designated spoke. Spokes report to the council about their working groups' issues and the spokes council takes decision with consensus of all the working groups present.
Chronology of events
The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City on September 17, 2011. On 9 October 2011, activists in cities in over 25 countries made calls for global protests on 15 October. A list of events for October 15 included 951 cities in 82 countries. On October 15 events were held in many cities worldwide. It has since been known that Occupy Dataran in Kuala Lumpur started on 30 July 2011, a month and a half before Occupy Wall Street.
As of 29 October 2011, there were about 2300 occupied zones around 2000 cities worldwide.
See also: List of Occupy movement protest locations and 15 October 2011 global protests
Police evicting Occupy Melbourne protesters
"Occupy" demonstrations have taken place in Canberra, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. The protests were relatively small, each attracting at most several hundred participants. At the Occupy Melbourne protest on October 21, approximately 100 protesters defied police orders to clear the area, and were subsequently removed with force. Approximately 20 arrests were made.
The Occupy Antwerp (Antwerpen) movement prepared for a first gathering on Saturday 22 October at the Groenplaats, next to the cathedral. About 150-200 people attended a speakers corner. The small socialist party (PVDA) was present and served free soup as well as propaganda for their miljonairs tax.
Occupy Ghent (Gent) started on Saturday 29 October 2011 with 400 people in the South Park (Zuidpark). They received a visit by supporters attending the 'second day of Socialism' (de Tweede Dag van het Socialisme), also held in Ghent on the same day.
Main article: Occupy Canada
"Occupy" demonstrations have been taking place in at least 20 Canadian cities since October 15. On that day, 5,000 people gathered in Vancouver to protest social injustice, while 150 stayed the night in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. 2,000 people marched in Toronto on October 15 and around 100 continued to occupy St James Park, and 1,000 gathered in Montreal to march down Ste-Catharine Street; 85 tents were set up in Victoria square. Events have been concentrated in provincial urban areas, and there have yet to be any demonstrations in the territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories, or Nunavut.
A satirical counter-protest by blogger "toponepercentcanada" has been planned for October 30, featuring such signs as "I am the 1%—release the hounds".
On November 5, 2011, a woman in her 20s was found dead in one of the tents at Occupy Vancouver.
Main article: Occupy Berlin
In Berlin, Occupy movement together with Occupy Frankfurt and Hamburg initiated its protests outside the Reichstag on Friday 15 October. Occupy Frankfurt has now taken residence in front of the European Central Bank, and a similiar action is being prepared on the premises of the St. Mary's Church, Berlin.
Protesters in Switzerland came together on Friday 15 October to protest in front of the banks UBS and Credit Suisse on the Paradeplatz. They have since moved their occupation to the nearby Lindenhof.
See also: 2011 Rome demonstration
On October 15, 2011, about 200,000 people gathered in Rome to protest against economic inequality and the influence of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on government. Many other protests occurred in other Italian cities the same day.
In Rome masked and hooded militants wearing makeshift body armor, in black bloc fashion, infiltrated the protests centered in St John Lateran square and committed numerous violent acts, throwing Molotov cocktails and other homemade explosives, burning and blowing up cars, burning buildings, and smashing up property such as ATMs and shop windows. The Roman Catholic church Santi Marcellino e Pietro al Laterano received extensive damage, including a statue of the Virgin Mary being thrown into the street and destroyed. Several unexploded petrol bombs were reportedly found on several streets by Italian police. Over 1,000,000 euros of damage (equivalent to over 1.3 million dollars) was recorded. At least 135 people were injured in the resulting clashes, including 105 police officers, several of whom were left in critical condition, and two news crews from Sky Italia. Two protesters had their fingers amputated by exploding smoke bombs. Almost 20 people have been arrested in connection with the violence.
Main article: Occupy Dataran
The Occupy Dataran movement first held their assembly at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) 7 weeks before Occupy Wall Street on July 30, 2011 to create an alternative to the current representative democracy using the popular assembly model based on principles of participatory democracy. As part of the 15 October 2011 global protests, over 200 people took part in 15 October's Occupy Dataran, the largest assembly to date. The movement have now spread to Penang with Occupy Penang and Kelantan with Occupy Kota Bharu.
S. Ganbaatar, the head of Mongolia's Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU), has announced that the association joins the worldwide occupy protests of Wall Street and other high streets on 20 October 2011. He claimed that bankers are charging higher interest rates from customers and corporates. As of September 2011, the weighted average annual MNT lending rate is 16% in Mongolia.
 New Zealand
Main article: Occupy protests in New Zealand
Six cities across New Zealand have seen "Occupy" protests arise (as of October 17, 2011), namely Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill. Protests in Auckland have drawn up to 3,000 supporters.
Republic of Ireland
Protests were held in Dublin, Cork, and Galway. The Irish Times described the movement in the following terms: "The group has no hierarchical structure, has set up a Facebook page and Twitter account – with the social media links attracting a very mixed, and sometimes critical, reaction." The protest in Dublin was organized by the "Real Democracy Now! Ireland", and "Occupy Dame Street" protest, set up outside the Central Bank of Ireland in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York. On 22 October is was reported that over 2,000 people took part in the Occupy Dame Street demonstration.
As part of the 15 October 2011 global protests, protesters gathered in London, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square was the initial target for the protesters of Occupy London on October 15, 2011. Attempts to occupy the square were thwarted by police. Police sealed off the entrance to the square as it was private property, and a High Court injunction had been granted against public access to the square. 2500-3000 people gathered nearby outside St Paul's Cathedral, with 250 camping overnight. The canon of St. Paul's, Reverend Giles Fraser, said he was happy for people to "exercise their right to protest peacefully" outside the cathedral and an indefinite encampment was established. Additional smaller protests occurred in Nottingham. As of 17 October an indefinite encampment had also been established on College Green in Bristol. On 29 October a camp was also established in Victoria Gardens, Brighton, and grew from six tents to around twenty within one week.
In Northern Ireland, Occupy Belfast initiated its protest outside the offices of Invest NI on Friday 21 October. Occupy Belfast has now taken residence at Writer's Square, in the Cathedral Quarter. It is expected that an Occupy Derry will take place in the near future.
In Scotland camps have been organised around the financial district of St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh since Saturday the 15th October. St. Andrews Square is the home of the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters in the Dundas House mansion. Protesters in Glasgow had set up in the civic George Square on 15th October but moved to Kelvingrove Park where the council would provide running water, toilets and safety fences after the council obtained a court order.
The Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City in September 2011. By October 9, similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities across the U.S. An October 12–16 poll found that 67% of New York City voters agreed with the protesters and 87% agreed with their right to protest. An October 11, 2011, poll showed that 54% of Americans nationwide have a favorable opinion of the protests, compared to 27% for the Tea Party movement, and up from 38% in a poll conducted October 6–10. A poll published on October 19 for National Journal found that 59% of Americans either completely or mostly agree with the protestors, with even support from Republicans at 31%.
On October 15, the Occupy Wall Street Demands Working Group published the 99 Percent Declaration with demands, goals, and solutions. It calls for a United States general assembly on July 4, 2012 in Philadelphia to support public works programs, tax hikes on the wealthiest, debt forgiveness, ways to get money out of politics, and amendment of the U.S. Constitution However, New York City General Assembly official statements are agreed upon by consensus, and not all participants agree with issuing demands.
It is too soon to gauge the full global impact of this fledgling and multifaceted social movement. In the United States, the protests have helped shift the national dialogue from the deficit to economic problems ordinary Americans face, such as unemployment. Labor unions have become bolder in the tactics they employ to defend worker rights and have been using digital social media more effectively because of the issues raised in the public mind by the Occupy movement, and because of the energy and inspiration provided by the Occupy movement. In New York City, the Occupy Wall Street protest has also provided hundreds of protesters to help in picket actions conducted by labor unions.
Canada On 15 October 2011, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed sympathy with the protests, stating "There's growing worry about a lack of opportunities for the younger generation — particularly in the United States — and it's up to governments to ensure youth are able to capitalize on their education and find good jobs." He later commented, "I can understand some legitimate frustration arising out of that."
India On 19 October 2011, Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, described the protests as "a warning for all those who are in charge of the processes of governance".
United Kingdom On 21 October 2011, Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the protests were about fairness. "There are voices in the middle who say, 'Look, we can build a better financial system that is more sustainable, that is based on a better and proportionate sense of what's just and fair and where people don't take reckless risks or, if they do, they're penalized for doing so.'" On 6 November 2011, Opposition leader Ed Miliband "The challenge is that they reflect a crisis of concern for millions of people about the biggest issue of our time: the gap between their values and the way our country is run." He mentioned that he is "determined that mainstream politics, and the Labour Party in particular, speaks to that crisis and rises to the challenge".
United States On 16 October 2011, President Barack Obama spoke in support of the movement, though also asked protesters not to "demonize" finance workers.