Protests on Wall Street attempt to keep democracy alive in America

Kirstin Cook, Editor-in-Chief

If our Founding Fathers knew the kind of apathy that now afflicts America, they would be climbing out of their graves to shred the U.S. Constitution.

Our economy and overall standard of living have plummeted thanks, in part, to a few greedy bankers, who are aided by a lack of regulation and the frequent conflict of interest within the government. For centuries, U.S. citizens have regarded this deception with indifference. However, some people are no longer willing to sit idly by while they are robbed as they sleep. A new movement has emerged.

Occupy Wall Street is a movement to protest the corporate greed and political corruption that dominates America. According to, the protesters are made up of any person or organization that “has an interest in returning the U.S. back into the hands of its individual citizens.”

These protestors have been camping in Manhattan’s financial district since Sept. 17, as reported by the Huffington Post. Their tactics have included a march across the Brooklyn Bridge on Oct. 1, spreading vocal messages and even printing and distributing their own paper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal.

These protesters are armed with signs and messages addressing many major issues that have for too long been ignored by Americans: the costly war, the corporate influence on political policies, negligence of the environment and the increasing wealth gap. Many are rightfully angry that bank CEOs were not punished for their causal relationship to the debt crisis.

These people are showcasing what democracy should look like and are speaking for the 99 percent of people who are given the leftovers of the wealthy because apparently no one else is willing to. Research conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies shows that the top 1 percent of Americans possesses nearly 40 percent of the wealth in this country. This 1 percent has seen increases in wealth and income even during an economic crisis.

Business Insider reports the incomes of the top 0.01 of Americans averaged to be 976 times greater than the bottom 90 percent.

The remaining 99 percent of Americans have experienced a downward slope in income and wealth, even while the cost of living rises. These citizens are being oppressed by the wealthy, yet many are hesitant to pursue their equality. This hesitancy is demonstrated by the relatively small group of protesters, as CBS News reported that the group has peaked at a few thousand.

There are many unethical people behind these statistics of inequality, and it appears that the only ones who care are the devoted individuals on the streets of New York City right now. The protesters have been highlighting the corrupt and unethical behaviors taking place in many major corporations, which have accelerated the decline of this country’s economy.

A Rolling Stone article described some of these actions on the part of one specific corporation – massive banking firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The magazine cites Goldman Sachs involvement in the crash of the housing industry, the spike of loan debt among Americans and the inflation of oil prices.

According to the article, Goldman Sachs manipulated consumers by making investments sound better than they actually were and monopolized on defaulting mortgages and loans. To get away with such manipulation, they arranged for politicians with ties to the bank to become involved in the government, who then disposed of standards that previously had been applied to avoid defaults.

Of course, the big corporations profit when Americans cannot afford to pay them back, so they hope to lend to the less fortunate. This is where having those conflicts of interest within the government really came in handy for them.

That is just a taste of the highly documented corruption among corporations. For decades, Americans have wordlessly watched it happen. Finally, someone has decided to speak up for what is right. Occupy Wall Street is a movement to take the power away from the corporations and put it back into the hands of the people. These protesters are tired of being treated as mere profits.

Unfortunately, it appears that New York City police officers are trying to mute these advocates. CBS News reported that around 800 arrests have been made throughout the Occupy Wall Street movement. Police cite disorderly conduct to justify restraining the First Amendment rights of the protesters. Despite the police officers’ attempts to silence the democracy that is being exemplified, protesters continue to find means to have their voices heard and the sound of freedom prevails.

So if you hear the cry from Wall Street, know that it is the sound of democracy ringing. Know that you have a right and even a patriotic obligation to peacefully join into the outcry against corporate tyranny. As Thomas Jefferson stated: “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”