Occupy Wall Street’s momentum is reaching new heights this week as the movement spreads throughout the country and the core group of protesters in New York City prepare for the unions to join up on Wednesday.
The protests, initially organized by the hacktivist collective Anonymous, began on September 17, with the broad and fluid aim of opposing the influence of the financial sector in politics. But the demonstrations began rather modestly in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, drawing only a few hundred people at first and even fewer as the days went on. Media coverage of the protests was pretty scarce, and largely focused on the NYPD’s response to the demonstrations.
But the protests sustained over the past two weeks, helped along by that media coverage of clashes between demonstrators and the NYPD. First a video went viral of a cop pepper spraying female protesters. Then around 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, bringing the grand total arrests to over 1000.
And now it seems that protestors in every major city in the U.S. — and even some cities in Canada — are joining in. In Chicago, protesters banged on drums in the financial district. In Boston, 3000 people marched through the downtown area. Protesters set up campsites in Atlanta’s financial district. Crowds camped out outside Los Angeles City Hall.
And there will be even more in the coming weeks. Occupy D.C. plans to move their protest outside the White House on Thursday. Portland, Oregon’s demonstration will be on October 6. Ft. Lauderdale’s got one October 8. The Canadian news outlet CBC News reports that on October 15, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver will all have their own demonstrations. And the list goes on.
Back in New York City, Wednesday could be the biggest day of protesting yet. Some of the nation’s biggest unions plan to join in at 4:30PM in downtown Manhattan, including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers, PSC-CUNY United NY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party, Vocal-NY, New York Communities for Change, Community Voices Heard and Alliance for Quality. One Facebook page shows almost 3,000 people who say they’ll attend.
Progressive groups like Moveon.org are also planning to join with the unions on Wednesday, saying in an e-mail blast that “together, we’ll add hundreds of thousands of voices of solidarity from the American Dream Movement for the protests across the country and show just how widespread outrage at the Wall Street banks really is.”
And one union group is showing their support in another way: The Transport Workers Union, Local 100, asked for an injunction on Monday to stop the NYPD from forcing bus drivers to transport protesters arrested during the demonstrations, though a judge denied their request.
Stay tuned for updates as TPM heads into the fray on Wednesday afternoon.