Twenty-six-year old producevendor Mohammed Bouazizisets himsel on ire in responseto years o petty police harass-ment in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Hissel-immolation sparks a waveo protests against the decades-long autocratic rule o PresidentZine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Aterour weeks, Ben Ali is orced todissolve parliament and lees toSaudi Arabia.
Using canvassing, social net-working and citizen-made media,organizers launch an 18-day pro-test in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Vio-lence by the regime’s thugs andthe blocking o internet traicinspire hundreds o thousands oEgyptians to join, swinging worldopinion against President HosniMubarak’s dictatorial governmentwhich alls on Feb. 11. The dualsuccess inspires an Arab Springo pro-democracy activism rom Yemen to Bahrain to Syria.
More than 20,000 Wisconsinitesprotest Gov. Scott Walker’s (R)austerity budget and his attackon collective bargaining. Hun-dreds o students are arrested. Aprotest in Columbus, Ohio againstsimilar attacks on the public sec-tor draws nearly 4,000 protest-ers. Demonstrators at both ralliescarry Egyptian lags and signsdrawing a parallel between theirstruggles.
500,000 protestors take toLondon’s streets in the Marchor the Alternative, a movementcoordinated by the Trades UnionCongress. Teachers and publicsector workers hold massivestrikes in support o themovement.
gREEcE & SPAin
Tens o thousands o protestorsgather in Athens ater plans wereannounced to cut public spendingand raise taxes in exchange or a110 billion euro bailout. Three weekslater, more than 1,000
camp in Puerta del Sol, Madrid’scentral square. 30,000 supportersgather or a series o mass assembliesthat put orward popular demands,including a greater say in the politi-cal process and an end to austeritymeasures enacted by the Spanishgovernment.
am a 27-year-old journalist living in CrownHeights, Brooklyn. Journalists, as a rule, do notreadily identiy themselves with organizations ormovements. We’re supposed to strive or objectivity.Get the whole story. Look at things rom all sides. Wedon’t want to have our work undermined by any ali-ations. We don’t want to advocate. Tat’s a job or PR reps. Advocacy, to us, is the Dark Side.But I am announcing my solidarity with theOccupy Wall Street movement.On the morning o Wednesday, Sept. 28, I letor Brussels, Wisconsin. It’s your average Midwesternsmall town: population o a ew hundred, one gas sta-tion, a couple o churches and a ew too many bars.Tat’s where my mom and stepdad live. I ew outthere to help them move out o their home. Well, technically, it is no longer their home. Tenew owner is Freddie Mac, which along with Bank o America is kicking my mom and stepdad out o theirhome.Tat house has been in my stepdad’s amily orover 100 years. He and my mom remodeled the placeabout 10 years back. My mom had made sure there were enough bedrooms or when my sisters and I cameback home with grandchildren or her to spoil. Tat’snot going to happen there, now.It is dicult or me to grasp this. I don’t think Iully will until I am nished clearing rooms and lug-ging boxes.It’s hard, and it doesn’t eel right. Didn’t Bank o America get more than $100 billion in bailouts?Didn’t they receive a tax reund o $1.9 billion romthe IRS, alongside the $4.4 billion in 2010 prots? Why do they get saved by the government ater hand-ing out countless high-risk loans, and then again get asaety net rom government-sponsored enterprises likeFreddie Mac when recipients o those loans have todeault? How is this okay?I moved to New York in January o 2010 andlanded an internship at Tomson Reuters in spite o the estering nancial crisis. It was originally supposedto be an unpaid internship, but I convinced them tochange it to an hourly wage. It was also supposed to be20 hours a week, but over time I pushed them to makeit ull-time. By the summer they decided to turn my position into a salaried gig. I was ecstatic.But I wasn’t happy with the work. First o all, it wasn’t journalism. I wrote an internal newsletter. I you were not a Tomson Reuters employee or a program-ming guy at a bank I can guarantee that you never readmy newsletter. Second, it didn’t eel like I was doinggood work. I wrote a monthly newsletter or the com-pany’s global stock network – a complex system thatshoots trade inormation rom stock markets all overthe world to banks and brokers and billionaires.Our clients were among the most powerul peoplein the world.Comort the aficted. Afict the comortable.Tat’s what a journalist strives to do. Me? I was com-orting the comortable.Economist Edward Wol’s work has shown that,as late as 2007, the top 1% o American householdsheld 34.6% o all privately held wealth in the UnitedStates. Within this afuent contingent, Wol notes,the wealth distribution is again hyper-concentrated tothe top .1%. Te vast majority o the households inthis bracket include players in the nance and bankingindustries.Tis bothered me. A lot. My work went against alot o my principles, and this aected my well-being.I grew depressed. I started eating less. My sleep cyclestarted going haywire. I doubled down on my drink-ing habits.Finally, last August, I quit. Since then, I’ve beenreelancing. It’s been great. I’m broke, yeah. But it’sbeen great.I used to cover border issues in Arizona, and I didsome immigration work in southern Mexico. Herein New York, I’ve been gravitating towards the policebeat. Never did I think about covering nance ornational politics. Never did I want to write about ournation’s nancial crisis.But then Freddie Mac and Bank o Americapushed my mom out o her home.So here I am. Committed. o the dialogue. o themovement. o what some o my ellow young menand women camped out in Liberty Plaza are callingTe Revolution.My riends have already told me that I’m crazy.Tat Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than abunch o dirty, jobless kids who have no idea whatthey’re ghting, who are merely beating drums andbarking at cops. But that’s not what I’ve seen.Te movement knows precisely what it is ght-ing. It is ghting the astoundingly unair distributiono wealth in our country while 46 million Americanslive in poverty – and that is by ederal guidelines thatsays a mom and two kids are no longer poor i they make $19,000 a year. It is ghting the reality that WallStreet and Capitol Hill are one in the same. It is ght-ing, tooth and nail, the disintegration o the Americanmiddle class. Simply put, it is ghting greed.I can also tell you that it’s new. Tat structureisn’t yet in place the way some might want it to be.Tat demands have not yet been ully sculpted andarticulated.But the Occupation is only in its second week,and it is gaining more momentum than anyone haddreamed. Numbers continue to grow in that smallsquare. Makeshit beds pepper the western end. Pro-test signs line the north. Someone has set up a library to the east.Beyond that, the rest o the world has begun to pay attention. Food, supplies and donations are streamingin rom well-wishers who cannot occupy the squarethemselves. Doctors are manning the medical station.Lawyers are consulting the recently arrested. Electedocials, musicians and other public gures have comeby to count themselves among the Occupation’s ranks.Tings are moving.I you are a New Yorker, and you haven’t yetstopped by Liberty Plaza – do it. It’s astounding.Te excitement. Te empathy. Te absolute ortitudeo these olks. It almost moves me to tears to standamong them. Tey are there because so many amongus continue to struggle. Tey are there because badthings are happening to good people. Tey are thereor my mother.And when I return to New York this week, I willbe there too.
Pushed out of our homes
and into the street
n just over ten days, over 40 cities have emergedto join the Occupy Wall Street eort. Eruptingin an astonishing way, this movement is bring-ing together diverse backgrounds and skills to work together to address excessive corporate inuence ingovernment. Browsing through witter, Facebook and Youube, the depth o participation and excitement isright there. Contrasted to the excruciating politickingo Congress, in which solutions, i they are decidedupon, do not go into aect or a year or two, many areeeling the hope that real change can emerge rom thisleaderless movement in which people are leaving theirhomes to occupy thier communities.In New York, we have been witness to the generos-ity o many anonymous people dropping by Liberty Square with donations o ood, medical supplies, tents,tarps and sleeping bags. Helping the campers is notunique to NYC. In Chicago, protesters reported thesame solidarity in the occupation developing outsidethe Chicago Federal Reserve.Meetings are being held almost daily to start anationwide Occupy eort in October; already the listo cities that have signed on is jaw-dropping, and sur-prising. Birmingham. San Diego. Las Vegas. Omaha.Boston. Lexington. San Francisco. Philadelphia. KansasCity. Washington. ampa. Denver. Pittsburgh. Bualo.Charlotte. Richmond. Austin. Salt Lake City. Asheville.Miami. With new occupations popping up every day.I occupiers cannot get answers and solutions romgovernment through the ballot, they will do it throughthe power o their presence in an “inconvenient space.” We are at the beginning o a monumental change inthis country, and the world. Te system won’t changeitsel. It’s up to us: our bodies in the street, our talentsput to work, our passion given lie. Systemic changerequires more than “protesters” and “activists.” You. Youramily. Your riends. Your neighbors. All o us. Now.
NYC — occpy tg
corporate tax dodgerbankrupting our ecomy daughter deserves
the world is on the cchange and I plan toscales in favor of all t
I trust people who sleeptrust bankers, traders, orwhen I hear “Grandma, wthe American Rising?” I cstood and said ENOUGH!
the $1 in my pocket iExxonMobil paid in t
the “American Dream”make people work theI can’t fnd a good job evework hard.
democracy is built, n
I’m sick o my aith beioppression, injustice, git’s time they eel howbuy your acade o a d
NYC schoolchildren deshedge-fund sponsored lgood school.
“Every generation nee(Thomas Jeerson).
WE’RE ALL in THiS:
The occupation has spread beyond its frst days to include an increasing number o amilies,local union workers, teachers and students rom across the fve boroughs.
OCCUPY_JOURNAL.indd 29/30/11 5:50 PM