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For more than a week now hundreds of citizens have "occupied" Wall Street in an effort to protest the financial system and the coddling of big banks.
Protestors have been present at Zuccotti Park near Wall Street since Sept. 17. The goal is to "flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months," according to "Occupy Wall Street," the group behind the show of civil disobedience.
The Wall Street protests started out quietly enough, but gained national media attention when allegations of police brutality surfaced. Several videos on the group's Web site show police officers using pepper spray on passive activists.
In many ways, the protests seem long overdue. Since the economy collapsed in 2008, thousands of protesters have descended on Washington at various times to protest government spending and bailouts. However, the financial firms behind the collapse of the global economy have managed to evade accountability with savvy PR and extensive lobbying efforts.
The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform and Consumer Protection Act did little to rein in large U.S. banks, and many of the largest corporations in America continue to dodge taxes through creative accounting.
Just last month, Rolling Stone reported on malfeasance and corruption at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC allegedly destroyed the files of some 18,000 investigations, thus whitewashing the records of countless financial firms and Wall Street players – some of whom played a key role in the financial collapse of 2008.
Protestors in New York carried signs bearing slogans such as: "End Corporate Personhood," and "How Do We End the Deficit? End the War, Tax the Rich."
Many of the protesters are young, not surprisingly. Youth unemployment stands at 18% — double the national rate. Furthermore, it's the younger generations of America that will suffer the most from cuts to federal spending. Social Security, Medicare and other benefits have all been jeopardized by previous generations, who overspent on tax cuts, entitlements, and wars.
"There's a major divide between the rich and the poor in this country," protestor Alexander Holmes, 26, told the New York Times, summing up his frustration. "One in 10 people are unemployed and my vote is nullified by corporate lobbyists."
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