With its insistent rally cry, “We are the 99 per cent!”, the Occupy Wall Street movement reverberated throughout the world, inspiring Occupy movements in every major (and not so major) metropolitan area in the United States and the world. It inspired parodies and spin-offs, and a fair share of jokes and marketing campaigns tried to capitalize on the not so capitalist friendly movement that began in Zucotti Park, the small square of trees and benches just two blocks from Wall Street surrounded by the high rises that were once the headquarters of the major global investment banks, although many have moved to Midtown and Jersey City in recent years (making room, by the way, for some gorgeous downtown condos and loft spaces).
The Village Voice is giving us an irreverent retrospective of the year in loud protests, observing that “activism replaced bottle service” in the city as Occupy Wall Street made grassroots activism cool with its loud and showy encampment that was impossible to miss for anyone in downtown NYC. Walking around the area was a surreal experience during the protest, as the pedestrians in the area had a remarkably different look and feel to the norm of the neighborhood. The Voice goes on to observe:
The marchers stomped against financial institutions all over the city—and ultimately, the world—while the OWS home base at Zuccotti Parkbrought back a ’60s-ish rebel-yelling community, complete with old-style folk singers, fringed ponchos, and new-style celebrity drop-ins.
The hypocrisy and absurdity of the event hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Voice’s writers either, who remind us that Alec Baldwin has played both sides of the fence by supporting OWS while shilling for Capital One as their spokesman. New York City has had its fair share of champagne socialists over the years.
The OWS movement is mobile and ensconced in more heated digs now that the police tore down the encampment, and Zuccotti Park still has some radicals hanging about the place, although not as much as in the heydays of November. If the economy doesn’t improve soon, we might find yet another show against income inequality in the new year after the ice thaws and flowers start to bloom. Spring is a lovely time for rallying cries.