News Release

Occupy Wall Street’s Legacy

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent@gmail.com, @arunindy
    Gupta’s work has appeared in dozens of outlets including The Intercept, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, The Nation and The Washington Post. He co-founded The Occupied Wall Street Journal in 2011, which the New York Times called “a professionally produced … document of the demonstration.” He just wrote the piece “Occupy Wall Street Trained a Generation in Class War” for In These Times.

    He said today: “In 2011, Occupy Wall Street captured the public imagination. Thousands of demonstrators camped on the doorstep of Wall Street, chanting, ‘Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.’ They crystallized public anger against powerful corporations and a political system they said was rigged toward the 1% and against the 99%. Occupy spread rapidly around the country and world with hundreds of protest camps. But as quickly as it appeared it was swept away by paramilitary-style police action in city after city. Critics declared it an ‘abject failure.’

    “With the tenth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, it is clear that the movement was far from a failure.” Gupta was the only journalist to cover Occupy across the country, reporting from 41 occupations in 26 states over the course of a year. He says Occupy Wall Street influenced the last decade of dramatic protests and shifted the political conversation.

    “Occupy Wall Street flipped the script from the Tea Party’s economic austerity to economic inequality. It introduced the ideas of the 99% and 1% that paved the way for the history-making presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s ascendancy to a political superstar,” says Gupta.

    “More than that, Occupy Wall Street has affected every progressive movement of the last ten years. There is the low-wage workers movement and ‘Fight for $15’ that put the idea of reducing economic inequality into action. Occupy ICE was a key part of immigrant-rights organizing in 2018. The Standing Rock pipeline blockade in 2016 was centered around an occupation in the Dakotas that swelled to more than 10,000 people. The movement for racial justice and Black Lives Matter have been influenced by OWS with physical camps in New York, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland protesting police violence in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. ‘The Squad’ in Congress and the explosive growth in the Democratic Socialists of America are also outgrowths of Occupy Wall Street.”