Above: As the sunlight fades on Oct. 14, organizers of “Occupy Gainesville” hold a general assembly downtown.
It started with an article in Adbusters calling for a popular uprising against corporate greed and corruption, inspired by a wave of insurrections across the world: the Egyptian revolution in December, the Tunisian revolution in January, and finally the Greek and Spanish popular assemblies in May.
Could it happen in a county as divided as the United States? Adbusters thought so: “On Sept. 17, we want to see 20 thousand people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.” The magazine referred to Wall Street as the “financial Gomorrah of America” and “the greatest corrupter of our democracy.” The goal of the occupation, as originally suggested by Adbusters, was simple: remove money from politics.
Two young anarchists and a seasoned community agitator joined forces to launch occupywallst.org, which would serve as an unofficial hub for the movement. “Our goal isn’t to be the leaders of this movement, but rather to grant people the tools they need to rise against corporatocracy,” said Justine, 26, one of the website’s original creators.
“My goal is to empower the people,” said Bill, 57, a retired U.S. Department of Labor employee who worked with Justine to contact over 100 sympathetic organizations, like Industrial Workers of the World, to promote the occupation. “I’m just trying to get 20 thousand people to Wall Street on Sept. 17,” he added. “They can decide their own goals when they get there.” The interview took place in a public chatroom on July 29, four days after occupywallst.org went public.
The “99 Percent” Awakens
General assemblies occurred in New York City, and the attendees proceeded to rally others. #OccupyWallStreet became a popular hash tag on Twitter, followed by #TakeWallStreet, #Sept17, and #LibertySquare. By Sept. 17, up to 5 thousand protesters gathered under the shadow of New York City’s financial sector.
Florida is no exception: the movement has spread to Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and finally Gainesville.