We’re a movement of the underdogs. We embrace the unemployed, the homeless, the ex-offenders, the down-and-out and the downtrodden. We welcome those who are discriminated against, those who are outcast. That’s what democracy is all about. And we’re building an independent movement fighting for democracy.
Inside The “99%”
* In July, the official unemployment rate was 8.2% for whites— but 16.8% for Blacks and 11.3% for Latinos
* In 2009, the median household net worth was $113,149 for whites—and $5,677 for Blacks, and $6,325 for Latinos
* In 2009, 15% of white households had zero or negative wealth—but so did 35% of Black households and 31% of Latino households
* Black men make up less than 10% of the U.S. population—but make up 35.4% of the overall prison population We have all sorts of folks here, people from every race, from all religions, men and women, LGBT and straight, people of all ages coming together to build a powerful force to oppose the greed and corruption of Wall Street and Washington.
We didn’t start yesterday. Earlier union and community protests and occupations like Bloombergville fell on deaf ears. Now we’re getting stronger every day. The whole world is watching: and the unions and social justice organizations of New York City have arrived. We invite everyone marching today to occupy or return when you can.
We know that today the banks and corporations dominate America. We know that corporate CEOs and financial insiders collude with the Republicans and Democrats to determine the national agenda. Together they make the rules—and they make the profit. We pay the price. It’s time to stop it.
We need a new distribution of wealth in this country. We need to provide jobs for all at living wages. We need free education and health care for all. And it can be done too. We need to start by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing all the troops home, and closing the hundreds of U.S. military bases around the world. Most importantly: we have to change the system.
The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City adopted on September 30 indicts corporations as responsible for joblessness, homelessness, environmental destruction, and imperialism. The Declaration describes the damage done by the capitalist system in the US and the rest of the world.
Wall Street is the nerve center of global capitalism. We are here staring the spider in the eye, but we know the problem is not the spider—it’s the web.
Right now, we’re symbolically striking at the system’s heart here on Wall Street. In the days that come, we need to go on to build a movement that can transform this system into one based on true equality and democracy. Everyone in our country—and in the world for that matter—deserves a decent life. Standing in the way of that possibility are the financial institutions clustered here on Wall Street. Standing in the way is the web: capitalism.
We need to strengthen our movement. The power of this movement is not just the individuals participating, but ties to our families and friends, to our communities and workplaces, to our unions, schools, and religious congregations. We need to bring these groups together as a social force and a political movement based on solidarity between the working class and oppressed. Not their politics. Not the bankers or bosses. Not Democrats and Republicans.
Our politics are the politics of people who recognize that something has to change. Our movement is made up of youth without jobs who can’t afford school. It has to be a movement of working people who’ve lost their jobs, families who’ve lost their homes, and of people of color who never fully shared in opportunity. We are working together to build the power to create a new democratic system and bring justice to our society.
How amazing and exciting that we’re here. We have to learn from the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, the indignados in the plazas of Spain, and the workers of Wisconsin. Occupy Wall Street has led to Occupy movements throughout the country. We’re part of an international movement for democracy and social justice around the world. We’re part of a new movement that can change history and the direction the world’s headed. A movement that can save the planet and its people by bringing about a different system.
5 October 2011
First published on the Solidarity website.