On September 17, 2011, three years ago today, protesters gathered in downtown Manhattan intending to Occupy Wall Street (OWS). They ended up in nearby Zucotti Park, where they remained until forcibly evicted by police two months later. The Wall Street action inspired similar Occupy movements in dozens of cities across the country, including on some university campuses.
Today the concerns raised by the Occupy movement about growing inequalities of wealth and income — the famous division between the privileged 1% (and within that 1%, the super-rich 0.1%) and the remaining 99% of the population — have hardly abated. Indeed, the work of economists like Thomas Piketty, Joseph Stiglitz, and others suggests not only that the issue will not go away but that the gap between the rich and the rest of us will only widen.
Many of the activists who were involved in the Occupy movement have continued their struggle in different ways. Rolling Stone magazine today published an article on its web site commemorating OWS and describing “five campaigns that OWS-inspired groups have continued to fight for since the movement’s presumed conclusion.” One such campaign focuses on student debt. As the article notes:
Higher education has seen better days: Total national student debt topping $1 trillion. An average student debt load of $29,000 per graduate. Increasing costs. Decreasing public funding. OWS student debt organizing began with a working group that has since turned into Strike Debt, which is creating a collective to help debtors self-organize. Countless efforts by student activists to halt tuition hikes and combat undemocratic administrations also demonstrate the vitality of the struggle for accessible education for all. A public letter sent to NYU’s president from a student who recently dropped out because of insufficient financial aid illustrates how the desire for education has become synonymous with accepting a lifetime of debt. Its more than 43,000 views illustrate how many others share that reality.
The other campaigns highlighted by Rolling Stone are “Occupy Homes,” “Occupy Sandy,” “Alternative Labor,” and “Prison Reform.” To read the full article go to: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/five-ways-occupy-wall-street-is-still-fighting-20140917