The Occupy Wall Street Movement started with a handful of protesters in the middle of September. Today, it is snowballing into a national movement for “the other 99 percent” — representing a diverse group of Americans who feel disenfranchised by a political and financial system that ignores them.
And now, riding on the momentum created by the Keystone XL pipeline protests in Washington last month, leaders of the climate movement are getting involved.
“For too long, Wall Street has been occupying the offices of our government, and the cloakrooms of our legislatures,” wrote Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, in an email urging supporters to join the march, “They’ve been a constant presence, rewarded not with pepper spray in the face but with yet more loopholes and tax breaks and subsidies and contracts. You could even say Wall Street’s been occupying our atmosphere, since any attempt to do anything about climate change always run afoul of the biggest corporations on the planet. So it’s a damned good thing the tables have turned.”
“If Wall Street is occupying President Obama’s State Department and the halls of Congress, it’s time for the people to occupy Wall Street,” said Phil Aroneanu, US campaigns Director for 350.org, who is leading the climate delegation for Wednesday’s march.
Seeing this broad-based movement as an opportunity to elevate demands for climate action, groups are planning continued action. Along with the 350.org march, a coalition of youth and environmental activists lead by the Energy Action Coalition are holding an Occupy Wall Street “sleep-in” at the U.S. Department of State to protest the Keystone XL pipeline.
“At previous hearings along the pipeline route, big corporations and their front groups have bussed in people, paid for line sitters, and skirted the rules,” said [Energy Action Coalition Co-Director Maura] Cowley. “We’ll camp outside of the Reagan building to make sure that our leaders get the chance to speak out against this potentially catastrophic project. TransCanada and Big Oil are occupying our political system, it’s time for us to occupy the State Department.”
The climate movement is only one voice among a variety of groups camped in New York who are troubled by financial and political inequality in the U.S. But as an all-encompassing economic, environmental, and political issue, climate activism has the potential to become a key piece of the protests.
Here’s a video from 350.org of some Occupy Wall Street folks talking about the connection between climate change and the occupation: