One year after demonstrators took to the streets near Lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to protest the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, Occupy Wall Street-inspired encampments are largely gone, but the problems the movement highlighted remain stubbornly apparent nationwide...
The protests -- which began in New York City on Sept. 17, 2011 -- turned public attention to issues such as corporate malfeasance, big money in politics, deregulation of financial institutions and, foremost, income inequality.
It was a new kind of movement. No charismatic leaders; no big-monied, behind-the-scenes interests; just a seeming outpouring of frustration. The protests quickly changed the terms of debate on economic issues, distinguishing the haves and have-nots as the "1 percent" and the "99 percent."
While the movement has dissolved, the issues stuck. Indeed, whether the wealthiest should pay more in taxes has been the No. 1 issue differentiating President Barack Obama (who, in Occupy-like terms says they should "pay their fair share") and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (who argues for lower taxes for all). ...
Working groups that sprung out of the movement still meet regularly, focusing on issues such as election reform and fair working conditions for non-union employees. Other Occupy activists continue to network.
The Occupy movement may be fading but the issues it moved to the top of the political agenda -- "political, civil and economic human rights," as one Occupy Rochester member described them -- remain to be tackled, both nationally and locally.
The Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle