What was “Occupy Wall Street” and was it a success or a failure?

The Occupy Wall Street movement was a spontaneous civil action inspired by the perceived inequality of classes in the United States. The exact origins of this movement are unknown, but its actions and influence cannot be dismissed in any way.

By far, the participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement represented sentiments found in youth culture. The basic philosophy behind this movement was a perception that the economic gaps in America are widening because of unfair and unchecked actions within the investment community. The focus of this movement’s anger is Wall Street because this is the most visible representative location associated with American affluence and wealth.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, in a matter of weeks, evolved from stereotypical picket protests to mass demonstrations. Tens of thousands of people joined a movement to highlight a philosophical stance against the economic practices of the modern business elite. People participating in the movement demonstrated their personal disgust with perceived unethical governmental and market practices by camping in high-profile areas. This group claimed to represent the 99 percent of people in the country who do not have the luxury of being supported by actions on Wall Street.

At first, the Occupy Wall Street had the appearance of a spontaneous citizen movement with an altruistic goal of educating the public about imbalances in the economy. The patron’s concerns were well-grounded in facts detailing the widening wealth gap in the United States. Their claim of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer is supported by undeniably solid statistics. The Occupy Wall Street movement however, quickly evolved into a show of radicalism supported by members who had political goals, rather than economic equality goals.

The 2016 US presidential election was the catalyst behind the massive Occupy Wall Street expansion. This movement started with a few protesters camped in the shadow of the famous Bull and Bear statues on Wall Street, but expanded into almost every major metropolitan area in the country. The idea that economic success is presently only available to the wealthy prompted a mass migration to protest sites throughout the country. With masses of people camped-out in public squares, the movement gained the attention of the national media. Unfortunately, this movement was rather unorganized and created social problems on its own.

Very large Occupy Wall Street groups took over public spaces like parks, city centers, and other public arenas. Their goal of bringing attention was successful, but diverted focus away from economic issues. Instead, the protests in individual cities created frenzies around the movement members themselves. Each Occupy Wall Street protest group created a public hazard, and left behind mass loads of waste within each protest site. Though the movement’s mission was well-founded, the result was an air of disdain from the public.

In large part, the national media had an immense role in the overall failure of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Both the movement and media groups addressed the movement from a self-centered, leftist position that unsuccessfully communicated the movement’s mission to the public. Media groups fervently try to feature common voices in their daily newscasts. They attempted to feature the most outspoken and well-constructed voices to represent their subjects. The Occupy Wall Street crowd was so unorganized that what the media was presented with, amounted to featuring newscasts full of drivel. The public sensed that the Occupy Wall Street movement was more destructive than constructive, and refocused their attentions on information from higher sources.

Occupy Wall Street was inspired by the revolutionary actions of people groups in the past. There is no arguing this. Contemporary economic and social conditions in the United States are unfavorable to people no matter their political affiliation. In one sense, the Occupy Wall Street movement was successful in that it brought people of like minds together in a genuine protest against something that can be proved by looking at the lives of everyday people. Overall, the Occupy Wall Street was unsuccessful. This isn’t because their candidate did not win the presidency in November 2016, but because their impact on communities was negative.

The legacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement is trashed public spaces, irrational actions by unprepared movement leaders, and embarrassing sound bits preserved by the media. Successful American movements and protests are known by their representatives and actions.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s had Martin Luther King Jr. and peaceful marches within key communities. The Suffrage movement had figures like Susan B. Anthony, and it made its way to the White House lawn. The Boston Tea Party had patrons like Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, and turned away the British fleet with a show of solidarity. Unfortunately, the Occupy Wall Street movement culminated in incoherent nightly news sound bits from potheads, and did nothing but leave mounds of trash in public parks. There is absolutely a reason to be concerned with the course of American economics, but unorganized street demonstrations are not the best course of action to communicate genuine concern.


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