By Jeffrey Smith -
NEW YORK, New York—In a major recovery from being removed from their national base in lower Manhattan, thousands of members of the “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) movement staged a series of massive rallies on Nov. 17 nationwide after being readmitted to their headquarters in Zuccotti Park under court order.
In New York, as well as dozens of locations around the nation and the world, OWS activists and their supporters surged through streets, demanding transparency in high finance channels, especially at the privately owned Federal Reserve and at international banks. OWS activists in recent weeks have also increasingly focused attention on private nongovernmental organizations’ influence on government.
As AFP went to press on Nov. 17, OWS protesters in New York City were streaming by the thousands into lower Manhattan, spilling over into parts of Greenwich Village and midtown areas.
Streets were jammed with OWS supporters for blocks above the financial district. Police erected some of the most elaborate systems of barricades ever seen in the city and especially around the Wall Street financial machine, the target of the OWS movement.
OWS supporters also directed their ire at billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who conducted the stealth raid on the self-designed encampment in Zuccotti Park two days prior.
Police in the dark of night descended on the park with cleaning crews and removed the press and pro bono legal observers. They then proceeded to raze the park’s temporary structures and forcibly eject OWS supporters. Local churches took up those expelled from the area in some cases.
But while the physical headquarters of OWS may have been removed, what clearly shows has not been diminished are the results of the two-month encampment and what many observers say is the surprising movement that emerged from the sometimes ramshackle structures of the park.
What some are now calling the “Zuccotti effect” has resulted in almost every public space in lower Manhattan and the surrounding areas being filled with citizens, who meet nightly to consider what can be done for the country. The gatherings, which have grown out of the Zuccotti protest, are now being viewed as one of the greatest public involvements this country has seen since the committees of correspondence in the years just prior to the American War for Independence.
OWS activists and their supporters interviewed say that whatever happens at Zuccotti Park, the intellectual and civic growth of the last two months is irreversible and will continue for the future.