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One year on, Occupy Wall Street is back. Protesters have taken to the streets in Manhattan and beyond to mark the movement's first anniversary. While their numbers look smaller, the drive to address economic inequality appears strong, especially with the US election approaching. Here's GlobalPost's ongoing look at the Occupiers' new global push.
Occupy-style protests have erupted all over the world. From London to West Papua, here’s a look at how the movements are faring.
BOSTON, Mass. — Everything about the Occupy Wall Street movement is global.
Even its origins are rooted a long way from Zucotti Park. It was Tunisians and Egyptians who first “occupied” a central square, or circle as the case might be, last year.
In those countries protesters were fighting entrenched dictators. But the source of their frustration was the same as the New Yorkers in downtown Manhattan — income inequality.
And months before Americans built their camps, angry youth across Europe were already occupying public spaces, demanding better economic conditions.
In June 2011, the French occupied the Bastille (where else?). They were inspired by similar demonstrations held throughout Spain earlier in the year.
Occupy Wall Street itself was largely the brainchild of a Canadian.
All of this points to one thing: the issues Occupiers in the United States are forcing into mainstream discourse exist everywhere. The whole world suffers from income inequality. And the world suffers from corporate malfeasance and corrupt leaders.
And the world is scrambling to fight back.
Here’s a look at some of the key movements and how they are faring these days.
Two months after their most visible camp was dismantled outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Occupy movement says it is alive and well — and planning to heed a global call to further action in May.
The London protests, which initially targeted the London stock exchange adjacent to St. Paul’s, have generated only a few low-key headlines since the eviction, but the organization says those involved are still exploring the ideas set in motion at the camp.
A second tented occupation of Finsbury Square, an area in the heart of the city’s financial district, still stands. Another has been pitched in east London to protest the building of an Olympic facility, and a third “nomadic” camp is now in the nearby Mile End district.
No details of further action have been released by the group, although one report suggests the headquarters of the British Bankers Association is a likely target on May 15.
Occupy London spokeswoman Ludovica Rogers said the group was now focused on continuing debates about democracy, big business and economics that began at St Paul’s through up to 30 working groups, which meet once or twice a week.
No specific action has been planned to coincide with the London Olympics in August, she said. But the group is planning a series of walking tours through the city’s various boroughs in June that it hopes will engage the public in their discussions.
Rogers said opinion was divided within the protest movement on the importance of the camps in the wake of the eviction.
“For sure, all the debates are extremely alive, and there’s a general idea of a continuous protest, whether in the form of a camp or direct action,” she told GlobalPost.
St Paul’s cathedral was closed in October, 10 days after the camp’s arrival. Criticism of the church’s handling of protesters led to the resignation of two senior clergymen. At least 20 people were arrested during the camp’s largely peaceful eviction in late February.
Rogers said that while there has been little in the way of concrete achievement by the movement, it had set the wheels in motion toward change.
“There is a feeling we’re building something together, and a consciousness,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy and we can’t expect to change things from one day to another. More than anything we’re just asking a lot of questions and reflecting on them and trying to find answers.
“We’re conscious it’s a long process.”
— By Barry Nield in London, England
Last summer's Israeli national uprising, which at its apex brought half a million people to the nation's streets — imagine a 19 million-man march, by American standards — may have been the most successful of all the Occupy-style movements last year.
Among other things, it brought about the resignations of not one but two CEO's, a significant revision of the corporate tax structure, which rose 1 percent to 25 percent despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal that it be reduced to 18 percent, educational reform, a political change of guard and, not incidentally, the reduction of dairy prices.
Cottage cheese, a creamy, delectable Israeli staple, had risen more than 40 percent in two years. The public went mad.
During the last few months of this year's unusually long and frigid winter, protest leaders gathered and tried to shape their ragged upstart community into an organized, nationwide, non-partisan movement with a hierarchy, official spokespeople on various subjects and in various languages, including Russian and Arabic, and a coherent platform.
As spring blossoms, the movement plans to press ahead less in last year's manner of massive social demonstrations, and more as a political force to be reckoned with.
"We are going to be explaining what we want — including free education from birth, no parental contribution to schooling, tax reform that transfers a greater burden to the wealthy and a lesser burden on general need items, such as water, gas and groceries, and affordable housing as part of a new vision of urban planning," said Stav Shaffir, 27, one of the leaders of last year's movement who is now part of the new organization.
Among other things, the movement has a new website.
Shaffir expects social justice to be the main issue as Israel's electoral calendar heats up.
"For the first time since the establishment of the state, it won't be security this time around," she said.
Shaffir's assessment is bolstered by the fact that the new opposition leader, former Likud member and former chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, a onetime hard-line right-winger who was recently elected leader of Kadima, has staked his political future "on showing you I will lead the social protest movement and not just follow it from the sidelines."
Shaffir and her colleagues expressed "reservation and skepticism" regarding the potential takeover of their movement by mainstream politicians of whatever stripe. "We will make them answer a thousand and one questions. We are preparing serious tests for each of them," she said with quiet self-assurance.
"We have a profound need for a real change of the system, not Band-Aids or an aspirin," Shaffir said. "Today, politicians are seen as corrupt and money grubbing. They have to become real role models. I am very, very skeptical about all of our current leadership. I want a person who I believe will fight for me, and for now I'm not seeing it. They will have to prove to us that they will fight for our needs, and not for narrow interests."
— By Noga Tarnopolsky in Tel Aviv, Israel