On October 17th, Democratic Perspective focused on the similarities between the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements.
Arab Spring began with a fruit vendor in Tunisia who had his cart and electronic scale confiscated for lack of a permit because he had refused to pay them a bribe. When he complained to City Hall, he was thrown out. Out of despair, he set himself on fire. That led to a protest by his friends which grew and, less than a month after the initial incident, the Tunisian president who had been in power for 23 years fled the country.
The success in Tunisia sparked protests throughout the Middle East, including Egypt, Libya and Syria.
In many ways, the Occupy Wall Street movement is fueled by the same feeling of disenfranchisement as the Arab Spring. When it began on September 17, 2011, it was ignored and written off as an anachist mob. The movement gained momentum when, on September 22, two thousand African-Americans marched from Union Square to join the protest. Yet, it was still largely ignored when Keith Olbermann visited the protesters on October 9 and commented that it would have received media coverage everywhere if the Tea Party was involved.
When Geraldo Rivera of Fox News Channel covered the protest a few days later, he concluded, “This is no Arab Spring.” He may have been right at the time. But it looks a lot more like Arab Spring now that the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown to include protests in a majority of our states and nations worldwide.
At the heart of the movement are people frustrated by income inequality and the lack of Wall Street reform. Thanks to taxpayer bail outs, the “too big to fail” banks have recovered from the 2008 debacle, large corporations are now sitting on mountains of cash, and Big Oil is enjoying record profits. But the rest of the country is still suffering. We have 9.1 percent unemployment (some suggest even higher if you include those who have given up looking for jobs) and incomes for workers have dropped.
Meanwhile, those who created our economic mess have faced no charges.
Because President Obama wants to bring people together, he has not been interested in punishing Wall Street. He simply wants to create regulations to prevent more problems like those that led to the 2008 crash. Yet when the Obama administration gave Wall Street a small slap on the wrist, the Wall Street bankers reacted by spending tens of millions of dollars to unseat him.
So it appears that the president has less power than the Wall Street bankers.
If you’d like to participate in the movement, there are demonstrations every Wednesday evening in Sedona at 89A and Coffee Pot Drive. There are also Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Cottonwood, Phoenix and other cities around Arizona.