For 12 days, the Occupy Wall Street movement has taken to the streets of downtown Manhattan and used Zuccotti Park as a base, a location not far from the former site of the World Trade Center.
But it wasn't until the protesters' march from Liberty Street and Broadway to Union Square on Saturday, Sept. 24, that the media and the rest of the country began to really take notice. Nearly 80 people were arrested for blocking traffic and committing other minor offenses, while reports of excessive police force, including a group of girls who were pepper-sprayed, flooded the Internet and TV news broadcasts.
The incident on Saturday not only set to further galvanize the group, it also grabbed the attention of celebrity activists Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore. Both visited the park this week along with popular political activist Dr. Cornel West. Now, copycat groups are popping up in other big cities across the country, from Boston to Chicago to San Francisco.
Accounts of who these protesters are and what they are actually protesting have been mixed and not always entirely clear. No single and unified message has been delivered, but for many of them, an interest in effecting change to the U.S. system of capitalism ranks high on their wish list.
So The Daily Ticker's very own Aaron Task took to the park to find out for himself what this movement is all about.
He found a leaderless movement comprised of people from all walks of life. But they did seem to have common threads for what brought them to demonstrate. Two prominent themes include dissatisfaction with the growing income inequality between the wealthy and the poor in this country and dissatisfaction over big corporate interests, rather than ordinary voters, controlling Washington.
Here are some thoughts from the front line:
--"Personally I am here to tell these big corporations to get their money out of my politicians' pockets so my politicians can work for me and for my family and my friends like we elected them to do." - Steve, unemployed college graduate and aspiring actor.
--"This tremendous wealth in a few hands is ruining our democracy. The income distribution over my lifetime has changed in the most extraordinary way." - Evalie, the Granny Peace Brigade
--"There is something seriously wrong when you've got a very, very tiny percentage of the country, a small number of the country, controlling so much of its wealth" - Bill, unofficial spokesman for Occupy Wall Street
--"We feel that corporations have more of a voice and more rights than individuals, and we are here to talk about it." - Ryan, associate producer
In the accompany video, Aaron also asks the protestors it's possible for this movement to engulf the masses, and even turn violent, similar to the protests in Greece or those across the Middle East earlier this year.
Watch the clip and tell us what you think! Do you believe Occupy Wall Street has finally started a much-needed dialogue in this country?