In late September 2011, I found a story on Russia Todayabout a new protest movement called “Occupy Wall Street”. After seeing the spectacle of boisterous radicals and costumed dissenters in New York City, I wondered if OWS was happening anywhere else. For several days, I researched the movement and discovered mainstream media was not effectively sharing the story. When incidents of excessive police force broke through the news curtain, it seemed that only a small fraction of people focused their attention on what was happening in NYC.
I visited Occupy Chicago on September 27, 2011, four days into their effort to maintain a constant street presence outside of the Chicago Board of Trade. Unlike NYC, Chicago officials did not permit any items that would allow protesters to camp out, or essentially live on the streets. Their numbers were low, but morale was high since a few Chicagoans around the city donated necessary supplies such as blankets, sweaters, pizza, and coffee to encourage this fringe movement. A handful of protesters eagerly greeted me and struck up conversations about life, happiness, and, inevitably, politics.
Prior to this, I never attended any form of protest and my engagement in politics was minimal at best. I was aware of some of the issues OWS presented, namely the infamous “Citizen’s United” Supreme Court case that prohibits the government from restricting political donations from corporations and unions.
As the media blackout continued into October, I turned to independent news sources and started watching live video feeds from activists’ mobile devices to get a better understanding of what “Occupy” was all about. On October 5, 2011, the day of Chicago’s OWS solidarity march, I decided to start documenting the movement. It felt significant because this time there were hundreds of people taking the streets of my hometown.
I set off on a NYC-bound road trip to attend the “Global Day of Action” that was scheduled for October 15, 2011. Thousands of people filled Times Square to rally in solidarity with an estimated 1,700 participating cities across the world. From there, I stopped at several “Occupy” encampments in the northeastern region, including Montreal, Canada. I wanted to have a first-hand account of this movement that was clearly mobilizing people from all walks of life.
The following short film captures the OWS movement during October 2011, showing 10 different cities in the northeast. From tents to the streets, the voices of the 99% continue to echo across the world.
Post and video: Krzysztof Piotrowski, September 17, 2012. Link.