Story By: Katie Andrus
Occupy Wall Street Gains Momentum
“We are the 99 percent!”
This saying has gained a lot of traction over the past two months as the Occupy Wall Street movements have been expanding out of New York’s financial district in Manhattan and into local cities and neighborhoods across the United States.
Salt Lake City has its own Occupy movement that stands strong with the thousands of other demonstrators across the United States. Even after conflicts with police, eviction from headquarters and treacherous weather the movement is still gathering ground and more followers are joining as each day progresses.
According to http://occupywallstreet.org the Occupy movement has gained substantial ground for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons being that many people are becoming ever more unsettled with the growing amount of wealth that CEOs and large corporations, also known as the top 1 percent of earners, are acquiring. At the same time families across the U.S. are struggling to make ends meet.
“For me one of the major issues is (the) growing income inequality in the United States. While the top 1 percent of earners have seen their share of wealth and real income skyrocket over the last 30 years, real wages for the middle class have stagnated, “ said Charles Benard, an avid follower and participant of the Occupy Salt Lake movement.
Frank Wood, a man who grew up in U.S. during the ‘50s and ‘60s, talks about a time in which the U.S. was a model to the rest of the world. This model “was a meld of our own social programs and capitalism,” suggested Wood.
It is the failure of this American model that calls for people such as Wood to defend the country. “I just can’t go to the grave thinking I haven’t done everything possible to leave this country the way my folks left it to me.”
When looking at the official Occupy Wall Street webpage one can see that Occupy Wall Street is a “people powered” movement that is aimed at “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 top combined 1 percent of wealth holders in the United States has more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. This consolidation of wealth at the top is what is responsible for dropping wages, unemployment and many problems we see in our economy including the ongoing disappearance of the middle class,” said Jesse Fruthwithe an Occupy Wall Street supporter, who helped organize Occupy SLC.
As the movements have expanded over hundreds of cities, many protesters have been faced with conflict and frustration. Such issues have caused Americans to wonder if this movement will continue until change is made.
Abbie Minkler, a participant in the Occupy movement stated, “We are here until the end. The American people have had enough. It’s time to take our country back! It is not just the people in New York who are sick and tired of the 1 percent who are filthy rich and are getting richer off of the poor and middle class here in America and around the world.”