Occupy Wall Street, the gathering that began as a relatively marginalized group in a Manhattan park, will march Wednesday with the support of union and other progressive leaders.
The group will begin marching from Foley Square in lower Manhattan, named for former New York Democratic Party leader "Big Tom" Foley, and end up in Zuccotti Park, where protesters have camped out since September 17, according to the Associated Press. Groups such as progressive organization MoveOn.org and the Transit Workers Union plan to join in. Community organizations are also encouraging college students to take part in the protests.
United NY, one of the groups participating in the march, sought a permit for the protest saying they expect 2,000 people, the Associated Press reported. The movement was brought into the national spotlight after more than 700 protesters were arrested on Saturday as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and a video of police using pepper-spray on four women involved in protests.
Since Occupy Wall Street began three weeks ago, the group has inspired protests in cities including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago and Wichita. Along the way, the protesters have won endorsements from prominent figures including famed billionaire George Soros, Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
Progressive organization leaders have also lent their support; the "Take Back The American Dream" conference -- a gathering of progressive leaders this week in Washington -- changed its agenda to include a plenary session that featured updates on the protests.
Still, convincing skeptics hasn’t come easy. The protesters have been widely criticized for not having a concrete list of demands, though they adopted the “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” last week. Their list of grievances is long, with issues including the foreclosure crisis, work-place discrimination and student loan debt. The protests in New York and other cities focus on income inequality, a theme common in the group’s internet presence, including on a Tumblr that showcases Americans dealing with joblessness and other issues.
Even if the protesters were able to narrow their concerns to one, easily defined goal, some organizers say that would miss the point. David Graeber, one of the original organizers of the protests, told The Washington Post that making demands of institutions implies that you want them to stay in power.
“You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature,” he said. “And it’s a way of juxtaposing yourself against these powerful, undemocratic forces you’re protesting.”
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