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-WORLD & NATION
Occupy Wall Street: pretesters unite te velce discentent
By Travis Linville
A leaderless group of people gathered on Sept. 17 in New
York City's Zuccotti Park — now being referred to as Liberty
Plaza — to protest. Protest what, exactly? Well, many things.
General dissatisfaction with our current political and
economic climate sparked the protests, which have since
spread to cities across the country and world.
The amorphous nature of the protests has made it difficult
to pinpoint the motivations of those participating.
"It's people reacting in different ways about something
wrong with our country and where it's going, and how
policies advantage the affluent at the expense of typical
households," said Bob Williams, professor of economics.
People have different reasons for joining the protests.
Each individual life experience affects how people define
what they think is wrong with our country. Damon Akins,
assistant professor of history, uses the parable of blind
people describing an elephant to explain the impact of those
differences in opinion.
The elephant could feel like a tree, a rope, or a fan,
depending on which part is being described. In a similar way,
each person describes problems in our country from their
own perspective. Views on what is wrong with our economy
and government vary from person to person.
"They can agree that something is wrong, something big,"
said Akins. "But when they start to articulate it, they only
highlight their distinctive experience of what is wrong."
The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,
released Sept. 30 by OccupyWallSt.org, reflects those
individual experiences. A few of the issues included
grievances against the illegal home foreclosure process,
corporate bailouts, corporate control of the media, and
corporate influence in politics.
Clearly defined objectives for the protests have not yet
been established. As President and Professor of Political
Science Kent Chabotar explained, this ambiguity is both a
strength and a weakness. The strength is that without specific
objectives, greater numbers of protesters will join; but the
weakness is that disaffection will likely occur as goals form.
"There will be some people who will continue with the
movement, some who will drop out completely, and some
who will coalesce with like-minded people," said Chabotar.
Joe Cole, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, sees
another benefit to the immediate move for action without
"The direct action has been productive in starting a
conversation and bringing more people into the dialogue,"
said Cole in an email interview. "It is also bringing some
new ideas into the mainstream political conversation that
has been either silent on issues of economic inequality
or dominated by extreme conservative voices."
According to ABC News, the initial idea proposal for the
Occupy Wall Street protests came from Adbusters magazine,
which pegs itself as opposing existing power structures. Akins
General dissatisfaction with our current
political and economic climate sparked the
protests, which have since spread to cities
across the country and world.
explained that Adbusters has supported anti-consumerism
for years, but such a message attracts more people in an
economic climate like the current one.
"Populist rhetoric — that of anti-corporate, anti-bigwig,
anti-elite — is always much more compelling in times of
depression or recession," said Akins.
Drawn together, whether by populist rhetoric or by the
desire for change, most activist groups establish some form
of governance or leadership. Instead of appointing leaders,
however, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and those in other
cities have been operating under consensus.
"The system we are fighting uses a facade of democracy to
allow a small elite to call the shots," said Mark Dixon, part-
time instructor in art, in an email interview. "We are taught
by American-style democracy that, to have any power, we
have to subsume ourselves to large groups like Democrats or
Republicans. By forcing the fit, we go for a safety in numbers
but have to give up on many of our real issues."
Dixon said that he is not heavily involved with the Occupy
Greensboro movement, but that he is on his way in. Across
the globe, others have found their way in also.
Anger-fueled action has spread to other cities across the
country and world, culminating in an international day of
protest on Oct. 15. People in Rome, Madrid, Dublin^ Berlin,
London, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and many other countries
and cities protested in solidarity. Violence erupted in Rome as
the protest turned into a riot.
On Oct. 1, 700 protesters were arrested for blocking traffic
on the Brooklyn Bridge, according to ABC News. The arrest
has been a controversial topic, however, because many
protesters reported that they had been directed to walk in the
road by New York City police.
In addition to the arrests, protesters have faced police
barricades and many other obstacles put into place by
New York City law enforcement. Police do not allow the
use of microphones and megaphones in Liberty Plaza, so
to compensate, protesters use what is called the human
microphone — a system where the crowd around a speaker
loudly repeats what that speaker says.
Despite the arrests and other deterrents, protesters show
no sign of withdrawing in the near future, and the movement
continues to draw attention to the common dissatisfaction
with the nation's politics and economic disparities.
Guilford community member and retired counselor Dennis
Dressier spoke about the movement and the arrests. While
attending a march in New York City on Wednesday, Oct. 5, he
hoped to camp in Liberty Plaza that night, but there wasn't
enough room on the ground to put down a sleeping bag.
"If we do nothing, nothing will change," said Dressier.
"Anyone interested in change has the obligation to speak
Thousands of people have spoken up across the country,
including residents of Greensboro. To hear some voices from
your neighbors, see the article in The Guilfordian's News
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Gaddafi officially reported dead
Continued from page I
repeatedly, dying a violent death.
According to an article in the Guardian, the
people of Libya seemed to be relieved in the
wake of Gaddaffi's death and more optimistic
now that the fight against his regime ended.
"The Libyan people are looking forward to
a very promising future where they can finally
start building the free democratic state for
which they have fought for about eight months
now," Libyan Charge d'Affaires Mahmud
Nacua said in a press conference. "Our people
have paid a high price. About 40,000 martyrs
have given their lives for the freedom of their
Many Libyan citizens living under Gaddafi's
dictatorship had been forced to support Gaddafi
and his regime for fear of violent consequences.
"In Hay al-Islam, where I live, most of my
neighbors did support Gaddafi, but once they
heard the news of his death on Thursday, you
could feel that change quickly," said Mahmoud
Umran, an electrician from Tripoli.
Amid the euphoria of Gaddafi's demise, the
future of Libya and its people is quite uncertain,
as it will be difficult to undo 42 years of the
autocratic Gaddafi regime and bring Libya into
the twenty-first century.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Political
Science Robert Duncan believes that the United
States should take action to help the country
and its citizens in this tumultuous time of
"The (United States) will be well-advised to
take action — offer help as with the Marshall
Plan, to bring Libya to the twenty-first century,"
People living within Libya have expressed
fears of further struggle in light of the transition
"I am not optimistic," said an anonymous
official once close to the old regime, according
to the Guardian. "OK, Gaddafi is gone, but what
next? Are Libyans going to behave properly and
act sensibly, or will we go back to square one?"
Duncan concurs with the anonymous official.
"Libya is more tribal, and (with Gaddafi
gone), the tribes will fight for power," he
speculated. "It's the same situation in Iraq,
where people will struggle for power."
Despite the struggles the country faces in the
difficult transition, Libyans are hopeful.
"Today, Libya's future begins," said Nacua.
"Gaddafi's black era has come to an end
Gaddafi's death signifies a new beginning
for Libya, free of the oppressive regime and the
fears that accompanied everyday life.
"Now Gaddafi is dead, the pillars of the
regime have all fallen," said Khalid al-Jibouni
of the Tripoli Youth Union, an organization
promoting civil society, according to the
Guardian. "Until now, some people still thought
that Gaddafi could somehow come back. Now
we can really breathe freely."