Moral Low Ground


‘Occupy Wall Street’ Goes Global: Hundreds of Thousands of the “99%” Rally in 82 Countries

‘Occupy Wall Street’ has gone global.

Inspired by the protest movement against Wall Street greed, which was inspired by Spain’s ‘May 15’ movement, which was inspired by the ‘Arab Spring,’ hundreds of thousands of citizens of Planet Earth, the global 99%, took to the streets and the parks and the plazas of hundreds of cities in scores of countries over the weekend to take a stand against inequality and injustice of many varieties. But mostly, the demonstrations were against the grievous excesses of out-of-control capitalism.

Portland, Oregon.

According to United for #GlobalChange, the main organizer of Saturday’s protests, 951 cities in 82 different countries participated in this weekend’s global solidarity demonstrations. From Berkeley to Buenos Aires, from Tokyo to Toronto, from Fairbanks to Firenze, people fed up with the status quo spoke with one voice that resonated in every corner of the globe.

“United in one voice, we will let politicians, and the financial elites they serve, know it is up to us, the people, to decide our future,” United for #GlobalChange declared.

“What’s exciting about what’s happening is a sense of international solidarity,” 33-year-old British university professor Ben Walker told the Washington Post at a rally near the London Stock Exchange.

The gatherings were overwhelmingly festive and nearly universally peaceful. CNN reports that a violent fringe “hijacked” the protest in Rome, with anarchists tossing molotov cocktails, breaking windows, torching cars and battling police. The Italian Interior Ministry building was set ablaze; 70 people were injured– 40 of them police officers. Police fired tear gas grenades and water cannons at the unruly ruffians.

But aggression, at least on the part of protesters, was the exception to the rule.

In Europe, the protests coincided with the Group of 20 (G-20) economic summit in Paris.

“You are not listening to us, whatever we do, however we vote, however we demonstrate,” one protester in Belleville, France, speaking to political and business leaders, told CNN. “It does not give any result. Quite the opposite, as poverty and austerity plans continue. So we can’t go on like this so we are getting out and showing ourselves.”

In New York City, where the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement began on September 17, thousands of protesters marched from Lower Manhattan’s Financial District to Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, chanting “We got sold out, banks got bailed out!” Mounted riot police attempted to corral demonstrators who’d occupied the square; according to the Washington Post, more than 70 people were arrested.

In London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressed a large crowd outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.  “This movement is not about the destruction of law, it is about the construction of law,” he declared to an electrified audience.

In  Melbourne, protest organizer Alex Gard told CNN that “our protests are to show our solidarity with ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and also protest various problems– from indigenous issues in this country to government problems. We know we have it better than the protesters in the States… but there are still problems in this country.”

And so it went, around the world, from Jakarta to Jacksonville, from Madrid to Manaus, from Athens, Greece to Athens, Georgia… this is what democracy looks like.

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