Did the Occupy Movement Have Any Impact?

cropped-fist.pngOccupy Wall Street came and went. From the time protesters showed up in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on September 17, 2011 to the time they were forced out of the park on November 15, 2011 the Occupy movement was a major cultural event, managing to maintain non stop news coverage for months.

Some people accused the Occupy protests of having no real direction and a lack of unified goals. But with two months of pseudo-organization under their belts, the movement was able to put together an almost universally agreed upon doctrine. With most protesters seeking a reduction in corporate interests control over politics, a balanced income distribution, better unemployment rates, and reform preventing speculative trading by banks. But the goals were never made official, due to a lack of centralized leadership. The Occupy protests hoped to achieve a better world for the middle class.

While the Occupy Wall Street protesters may not have achieved their goals (or even achieved actually agreeing on what those goals were,) they created an international conversation to force people to consider the inequalities of the global financial system.

More specific impacts made by the Occupy movement include having the protest validated through a news conference with President Barack Obama. Obama stated, “I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country…” Having the protests addressed publicly in the media by the President gained the movement some traction with the general populace and helped spread their views to a wider audience.

One of the greatest impacts of the Occupy movement was the precedence that was set for non-violent protest. By October 29, 2011, only forty-two days after the Occupy Wall Street had begun, similar protests had sprung up in over two thousand cities worldwide. While there was incidents of violence reported in the news during some of these protests, they were usually involving police and no reports of violence were officially condoned by any of the protesters involved with Occupy.

Each attempt at re-enacting the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccotti Park has failed due to police intervention. The fear that the assembly of protesters could last months and disrupt “business as usual” for months hangs over the authorities in New York.

The effects of the protest may not be clear and obvious, but they are being felt all over the world. The scale the protests managed to achieve at such a rapid pace showed people that they were not alone in their distrust of the financial system and their concern of inequality in America and abroad. The true effects of the Occupy movement can be felt through the national dialogue, where politicians are feeling more pressure to support the middle class and where there is a growing distrust of financial institutions and big business. Occupy may not have caused a sudden shift in the way the world works, but it has caused a subtle shift in the way the world thinks. The gradual changes will continue for years, and hopefully the goals of the protests may one day be achieved.