ENG: Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district. Initiated by the Canadian activist group Adbusters, the protests were inspired by the Arab Spring movement, especially Cairo's Tahrir Square protests, and the Spanish Indignants. They are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, and the power and influence of corporations, particularly from the financial service sector, and of lobbyists, over government. The participants' slogan "We are the 99%" refers to the difference in wealth between the top 1% and the other citizens of the United States. By October 9, similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S., including the estimated 100,000 people who demonstrated on October 15. Internationally, other "Occupy" protests have modeled themselves after Occupy Wall Street, in over 900 cities worldwide. An October 11 poll showed that 54% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the protests, compared to 27% for the Tea Party movement, and up from 38% in a poll conducted October 6–10. An October 12–16 poll found that 67% of New York City voters agreed with the protesters and 87% agreed with their right to protest.
A chart showing the disparity in income distribution in the United States. Wealth inequality and income inequality have been central concerns among OWS protesters. CBO data shows that in 1980, the top 1% earned 9.1% of all income, while in 2006 they earned 18.8% of all income.
In mid-2011, the Canadian-based group Adbusters Media Foundation, best known for its advertisement-free anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, proposed a peaceful occupation of Wall Street to protest corporate influence on democracy, address a growing disparity in wealth, and the absence of legal repercussions behind the recent global financial crisis. According to the senior editor of the magazine, “ basically floated the idea in mid-July into our and it was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world, it just kind of snowballed from there.” They promoted the protest with a poster featuring a dancer atop Wall Street's iconic Charging Bull.
Also in July, they stated that, "Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America." Activists from Anonymous also encouraged its followers to take part in the protest which increased the attention it received calling protesters to "flood lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street".
Adbusters' Kalle Lasn, when asked why it took three years after Lehman Brothers' implosion for people to storm the streets said:
When the financial meltdown happened, there was a feeling that, "Wow, things are going to change. Obama is going to pass all kinds of laws, and we are going to have a different kind of banking system, and we are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice." There was a feeling like, "Hey, we just elected a guy who may actually do this." In a way, there wasn't this desperate edge. Among the young people there was a very positive feeling. And then slowly this feeling that he's a bit of a gutless wonder slowly crept in, and now we're despondent again.
Although it was originally proposed by Adbusters magazine, the demonstration is leaderless. Other groups began to join the protest, including the NYC General Assembly and U.S.
Day of Rage. The protests have brought together people of many political positions. A report in CNN said that protesters "got really lucky" when gathering at Zuccotti Park since it was private property and police could not legally force them to move off of it; in contrast, police have authority to remove protesters without permits from city parks.
Prior to the protest's beginning on September 17, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference, "People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we'll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it." The protests have been compared to "the movements that sprang up against corporate globalization at the end of 1990s, most visibly at the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle" and also to the World Social Forum, a series in opposition to the World Economic Forum, sharing similar origins. A significant part of the protest is the use of the slogan, "We are the 99%," which was partly intended as a protest of recent trends regarding increases in the share of annual total income going to the top 1% of income earners in the United States.