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Wall Street belongs to us

Since Saturday, hundreds have been camping on Wall Street in protest of the financial crisis. They see themselves ignored by the American media. They organize themselves online.

Page 1 Wall street belongs to us It was supposed to become the USAs Tahrir Momentlike on this square in Cairo and on other central squares in the Arab states, activists in the USA wanted to occupy Wall Street, camp there, and in doing so create awareness about abuses. They began on Saturday. The anti-consumerist movement Adbusters called for the peaceful occupation. Activists from Anonymous joined them, and multiple other groups followed. The 20,000 demonstrators that were hoped for never came. There were, however, between 1,000 and 5,000 protesters, according to varying estimates. But what was planned to be a long mass-protest under the motto Occupy Wall Street seems on the fourth day to be a major topic only on social networks. Only a core group of around 200 people protests further at the site against the social unfairness in the USA, against a politics that gives distressed banks billions and distressed people nothing, against the influence of financial market lobbyists in Washington, DC. So far, at least 16 demonstrators have been arrested, some for questionable reasons. One woman, for example, was taken away because she was wearing a maskon the back of her head. Another woman was arrested for drawing with sidewalk chalk outside of the protest. The police initially accused one of those apprehended of jumping over a barricade. After two New York Times journalists who witnessed the incidents wrote that he hadnt even attempted to jump it, the police changed the allegations suddenly. Videos from further arrests show how little gentleness the police are using in their dealings with the demonstrators. There have also been unconfirmed reports of internet blocks, and a camera team of activists were arrested; cameras and computers were ostensibly confiscated. It is no wonder then that Anonymous and other followers of the movement feel like the protesters in Egypt or Libya. But they are hardly reported about in the USA. Page 2 Hushed up? Since Monday, CNN has reported nothing more of the protests, and the entries on the website of the New York Times are blog postings which again almost exclusively give information surrounding the arrests. The New York Daily News most recently wrote about the pizzeria which supplied the protesters with free pizza. The protesters cannot expect any support from conservative news media such as Fox News and the New York Post one way or another. At most, there are reports of arrests. By contrast, almost no one speaks of the goals of the demonstrators. There they are fully justified. Ninety-nine percent of people must suffer in order that one percent can profit, they complain, and they protest against poverty, corruption and exploitation. We are the ninety-nine percent, reads their slogan. Initial reports in online media call the lack of articles in the mainstream media a brownout, a blackout, a hush-up, and ask if it is happening consciously.

The effect, in any case, is devastating to the goals of the demonstrators. On the website of the protest, it is strongly emphasized that there is a Livestream of Liberty Plaza, and on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ a considerable number of people are following the events. However it is those who already tend to sympathize with Anonymous who will be reached. To have become a critical mass, the organizers would have had to convince and mobilize more people. That the bankers on Wall Street or someone in the White House will react to 200 people on Wall Street and their followers on Twitter is not to be expected. This article appeared in ZeitOnline and was written by Patrick Beuth. Translated from the German by Dave Herr. Original URL with pictures and video: http://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2011-09/occupywall-street/seite-1