Occupy Wall Street (OWS), the leaderless resistance movement headquartered in Zuccotti, is spreading across the country and world, with other Occupations springing up almost daily—Occupy Boston, Occupy Austin, Occupy Detroit, Tampa, Los Angeles and Maine, to name just a few. The day of the Times Square Occupation, was an annual event known as a Global Day of Protest and Solidarity, resulting in more than 1,500 events in more than 82 countries. The group reportedly has more than $430,000 in cash from an increasing stream of donations, along with enough food, clothing and other supplies to potentially last the winter. The movement celebrated its one month anniversary on Oct. 17.
Despite the mounting arrests—700 on the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month—OWS protestors’ beef isn’t necessarily with the NYPD, as another protestor sharply reminded the aforementioned Washington Park rabble-rouser, though ensuing clashes may be inevitable, some experts tell the Press. An act of violence on either side—whether organic or manufactured—would certainly serve to sway public opinion.
OWS’ gripes are with the current global economic and financial system and its various players and enablers—corporations, investment banks, politicians, moneymen—whose greed brought about and continues to maintain the economic crisis reverberating throughout the world, across the country, states, counties, towns, villages and communities; erasing jobs, wiping out savings, foreclosing homes, holding down and destroying the future of what supporters call themselves and everyone else affected, “The 99 Percent.”
What the end result of the movement will be is anyone’s guess, but the movement has already begun to shape the national dialogue. President Barack Obama mentioned OWS’ cause during his Oct. 16 dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C. So have Republican presidential candidates during recent debates. Can a grassroots effort such as OWS change a system and culture that took multi-billion-dollar corporations, generations of lobbyists, several U.S. presidents and armies of countless, faceless business executives more than 40 years to mold, prune, perfect and maintain? Will the “1 percent” as OWS call the upper echelons of wealth, allow that to happen?
There are a lot of differing perceptions about exactly what these protesters want and who, exactly, they are. Socialists? Anarchists? Drug-fueled hippies, gutter punks, spoiled hypocritical trust fund babies who’ve got nothing better to do than complain?
Several things are absolutely certain: OWS isn’t disappearing anytime soon. Long Island isn’t immune; in fact its current economic state is endemic of the problem supporters seek to remedy—in some ways even a strategic target of the movement. OWS members are angry, determined, committed. And dedicated believers view OWS’ cause as nothing short of a coup.
“It’s a revolution,” smiles “Ty,” a 23-year-old from Farmingville who, like almost every occupier interviewed for this story, preferred only to be identified by her first name.