On the Ground – Occupy Chicago

Occupy Chicago

Originally posted October of 2011

We see many “Occupy” movements across the United States, and across many other nations in the world. We don’t exactly know what the Occupy movement is defined by, because it is defined by so many things. In different areas around the world and even if in different states, the “Occupy” movement has a different themed message. The most used message we see today is “We are the 99 percent”, referring to the difference in wealth between 99 percent of the country, and 1 percent. This message is used to unify the movement, but does not necessarily define it.

What we can all agree on though, is that more than a movement, the “Occupy _____” is an expression of peoples discontent with dishonest business, political, and social practices. What this “movement” really is, is an expression by people. The failed economic policies of the United States, and dishonest business practices seemed to have caused the first “Occupy Wall St.” protest, and from there movements have spread in different cities across the country. Many have seen these protests as only of those with liberal agendas, or people who don’t want to work, or even anti-capitalist/socialist. Our contributor, Sania has gone to “Occupy Chicago” to see what these protests are really about, in the heart of America.

We would like to report to you what she saw, and thought about this movement in Chicago IL on October 10th 2011,

I heard about this protest through the social media site Facebook, and was wanting to check out it’s purpose, and what the people of IL were protesting about in Chicago. The protest was located in front of the Chicago Federal Board of Trade building, which was iconic because of the buildings purpose. I really heard the message of these protestors, and it was loud and clear. They were protesting about corporate greed, and the fact that these corporations benefit from billions of dollars of revenue, yet the majority of the country is left with nothing. They saw the irony in how the taxpayer bails out many of the same corporations that are forcing them to foreclose on their house. The main theme of the protest was against corporate greed which these protestors thought, prevented the majority of people in this country from befitting financially.  Some other issues which people are protesting was how these fortune 500 companies participate in a mass number of human rights violations, how they also contribute to WAR, and for some…their existence actually depends on WAR (blackwater, etc). Basically, there is a whole conglomerate of issues which people are facing — but the common factor is that these big business, lead by WALL ST., are the driving forces behind these issues.

While I cannot independently verify the situation at Occupy Wall St., I can testify that the Chicago Occupy protest was an organized, trash free protest. The protestors even had a set of rules like a small community. It was definitely not violent (and no break off anarchist were present – editors note). When I hear about remarks that Occupy protests are anti-capitalist, I think from the Chicago protest, there were not anti-capitalists remarks but reform to stop greedy corporations from ruining the economy with destructive polices. I saw some regulation reform as well. What I really think these protestors are doing, is giving a voice to the poor in America, or the less fortunate. They want things to change such as the government looking after the common man, and not after the CEO’s of huge corporations.

Overall I would say my experience at the “Occupy” Chicago protest was a good one. I saw people who wanted real change to happen, but I’m not sure if our current political and economical discourse will allow that to happen. While I do think the “Occupy” movement is a step towards change, they might have to be more central and clear on their demands. This movement seems to be a political and social one, and it would be really interesting to see the kind of change they make in the upcoming years.

We all have differences of opinion on what the message of the “Occupy” movement really is, or even if it should be happening.

Give us your thoughts and comments on this article. Comment below!

Have questions for Sania? Post comments below!

From umayrsufi.com’s “On the Ground” series

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