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Occupy Wall Street Movement Growing

Khalid Naji | 10/6/2011, 3:40 p.m.
NEW YORK -- The movement to Occupy Wall Street began Sept. 17 in Manhattan's Zuccotti...
Occupy Wall Street protest in Manhattan./Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah for The Washington Informer

NEW YORK -- The movement to Occupy Wall Street began Sept. 17 in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, a stone's throw from the World Trade Memorial and steps away from Wall Street -- where protesters initially tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

Now, the effort "to restore the American Dream" is starting to spread to other cities across the country, including the nation's capital, where thousands of protestors gathered earlier in the day on Thursday (Oct. 6) at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with promises to occupy Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Ave.

Over the past few weeks, having grown dramatically in numbers, Zuccotti Park has become home to many with no sign demonstrators plan on leaving anytime soon.

The park area is a self-contained compound in the middle of Manhattan with amenities that would prompt other movement groups to re-think their plans. The compound includes a kitchen, cell phone and laptop charging station and a medical area. There is also a security force, library, information desk, and a press area as well as access to the Wall Street Occupy newspaper.

A sense of brotherhood and sisterhood prevails as one enters the park. People are donating money, bags of food to help feed the demonstrators daily, books to fill the on-site library and doctors and other medical staff donating their time to treat the sick and injured.

No violence is tolerated in the park or while the group is protesting in the city. Rally participants strongly adhere to non-violence tactics; and if a rule is broken, the offender would quickly hear, "this person is an impostor!"

On Wednesday (Oct. 5), more than 8,000 demonstrators took to the streets of lower Manhattan, creating a rush-hour nightmare as officers moved in to constrain demonstrators to the sidewalks -- which temporally closed Broadway St. near the park to motor vehicle traffic.

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Once demonstrators approached the compound, their chants of "This is what democracy looks like," were joined by more than 1,000 others. Signs conveying objections over the 2008 Wall Street bailout were also held, with one boasting, "Mr. Obama You Saved Bankers Greed. Save Me Too. I Owe $20,000. Give Me A Bailout."

An unidentified protester stated that, "Banks enjoyed huge profits after the bailout and regular people have been suffering from unemployment, and are losing their homes to the same banks that received bailouts."

Many of the protesters' causes were different: some joined the National Student Walk-Out Day effort to shed light on soaring tuition rates and student debt. Others joined their local unions; and some shared an array of issues they harbor against Wall Street and the government.

Film maker Michael Moore walked through the park talking with demonstrators and the media.

"Forty-six million people living in poverty right now in the United States. That's an absolute crime, it's immoral," Moore said. "And these guys (Wall Street) are just posting the largest profits ever this year."