BY BILL EGBERT | Five years ago, the Occupy Wall Street protest spawned a movement and pushed economic inequality into the mainstream political conversation. On Sept. 17, participants returned to Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to recall the protest and renew their call for economic justice.
About 70 people turned out for the sit-in sequel, which included the same sort of costumes and strident signage featured in the original protest — though, mercifully, no drum circles.
In addition to waving hand-painted signs with slogans such as “Stop giving blow jobs to big business,” returning protesters shared stories and conducted teach-ins on climate activism, affordable housing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“I think the Occupy Wall Street spirit is definitely still alive,” said Marni Halasa. She’s a member of the Occupy spin-off the Alternative Banking Group, which continues to meet on a weekly basis, and also collaborated on a book called “Occupy Finance.”
Halasa cited more recent social and economic justice movements that she sees continuing the original Occupy protest, such as the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the Black Lives Matter movement and the dark horse candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders.
“If it weren’t for Occupy, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Occupy definitely opened the door for him.”
She credited Sanders — and by implication, the Occupy movement — with dragging the famously centrist Hillary Clinton dramatically to the left, to the point that the candidate now touts a $15 minimum wage (albeit, only if individual states support it) tuition-free college and steep taxes on the infamous “1 percent.”
“It remains to be seen what she actually does,” Halasa said, “but at least she’s talking about it.”