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What is Occupy Wall Street?

The Associated Press
Young women protest at Occupy Wall Street.

Liberty Square. Tents pitched in front of corporate offices. Shouts proclaiming, "We are the 99 percent!"

Hundreds of peaceful protestors currently gather in the financial districts of cities across the globe in support of narrowing the gap between the wealthy and the poor. With more than 1,500 cities worldwide and more than 20,000 protesters and counting, the Occupy movement is spreading fast.

However, will violence corrupt the protests, and, if so, does this violate America's Constitution?

Occupy Wall Street (whose unofficial website is occupywallst.org) is a people-powered movement that began Sept. 17 in Liberty Square in Manhattan's Financial District. Inspired by the recent movements in Egypt and Tunisia, OWS' mission is to fight against the financial powerhouses of the world.

OWS claims that the richest 1 percent of the population controls the "inferior" 99 percent and creates social injustice among the world's economy. The movement seeks to expose and oppose the rich.

Although the First Amendment of the United States Constitution represents free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, some seek to terminate the protests of OWS. Many political figures attack the demonstrators for being "lazy." Former New York City mayor Rudy Guliani told Fox News that the demonstrators should "occupy a job" instead of Wall Street.

According to CNBC writer John Carney, the protests are "hurting the economy" by "supporting anti-housing." Some who are participating stay camped out on the streets. The homeless have taken interest in the protests, and, in many cases, have found a place to call home. Fellow protestors aid these people, providing them with food and shelter until they can get back on their feet.

The protestors are said to be a large source of disruption and destruction of property, and violence has erupted at many of the protest sites, particularly in Oakland, Ca. On Nov. 2, several thousand people came together on the Port of Oakland in a five-hour protest in support of OWS. However, the rally did not end as peacefully as it began.

That night, protestors broke into a vacant building, shattered downtown windows, sprayed graffiti and set up random bonfires throughout the city. Police arrested dozens, and several injuries occurred.

Multiple conflicts with the police and the government have erupted as a result of OWS. For some of the 99 percent, this is evidence that the movement is doing no good for our country.

Are more evil things rising from a supposedly peaceful protest? Is it truly worth it to continue the movement?

Putting aside personal views, one must admit OWS is making a huge difference. In less than two months, it has reached around the globe, spreading the message of peace and freedom. It is forcing the middle and lower classes to question the intentions of the wealthy. It is forcing the wealthy to show their true colors.

With democracy comes conflict, and with conflict shall come compromise. Kinks in the movement aren't beyond fixing, and law enforcement is capable of resolving violence instead of instigating more.

However, above all, saying the movement should be abolished would, indeed, abolish the basic law on which our country was built. In order to press forward, we as the American people must be open to all opinions and viewpoints, even those we don't agree with. It is, after all, a free country.


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