Occupy Wall Street has gone global. From New York to Tokyo to Rome, what started as a small group camped in New York’s Zuccoti Park has blossomed into an international movement numbered in the thousands.
Davis, not to be left out, is no exception in what has rapidly transformed into worldwide effort. Protesters, from young and old, students and unemployed, conservatives and liberals, met on Oct. 12 in Davis’ Central Park to lend their voice to the Occupy protests.
On the Occupy Wall Street’s Oct. 15 international day of action, the Occupy Davis group also protested against banks, marching from Central Park to downtown banks.
“We are the 99 percent,” many signs read at Oct. 12’s bi-weekly general assembly meeting. Their purpose, echoing what has become an increasingly complex weave of cross-national sentiment, is to unite in dissent over what protesters described as the increasing inequality of, essentially, the world’s financial distribution.
“I am protesting the imbalance of wealth and the fact that the government should exist to protect the people as a whole rather than cater to the wealthy,” Ian Holser, the organizer of the Occupy Davis coordination committee, said in an e-mail. “I think worldwide we are protesting the power structure and the fact that it is so easily manipulated by relatively few people with large amounts of wealth.”
For many, however, the Occupy movement is about more than just the imbalance of wealth in America and around the world. Bernie Goldsmith, a self-identified unemployed lawyer highly involved in the Occupy Davis protests, while not in disagreement with Holser’s sentiment, spoke of a more broad purpose for the group.
“We are not protesting in the classic sense, in the sense of going out on marches and shouting until we get our way. There are no demands and there probably never will be,” Goldsmith said in an e-mail. “We’re protesting for the most basic of things, to declare our existence and relevance in the political order, to remind the country and ourselves that we own this place, that we own the problems of this place and that we have the responsibility as citizens to engage and make things right.”
Goldsmith is not alone in his wide-reaching hope for the Occupy movement. Many, including some UC Davis students, have approached it as a broad venue for political change.
Sophia Kamran, a senior philosophy and comparative literature double major, attended last week’s general assembly meeting. She, like Goldsmith, sees the Occupy movement as an opportunity to address a grand spectrum of political and social strife.
“I really like the idea that we don’t have one set of goals,” Kamran said. “To me it’s more of a wake-up call … It’s about all these issues we think we’ve overcome… but the truth is, we haven’t.”
Another attendee of last week’s meeting was junior physics major Andres Estebanez, who, after citing worries of corporate control and financial inequity, noted his own particular concern over public education. His parents, he pointed out, left the UC system with little to no debt, whereas today he fears the end of accessible public education altogether is near.
Whatever the particular interest the many protesters may have, it is clear that concern has become poignant and universal.
“We are occupying Central Park to reclaim it as a place of political speech and dialogue, and in so doing, we are also laying the groundwork to occupy and reclaim our democracy,” Goldsmith said.
JAMES O’HARA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.