It’s hard to tell what will come from the “occupy” protest movement spreading across the nation, but a University of Wisconsin professor says it’s unusual and interesting. It started in New York City last month with groups of protesters camping out on Wall Street. While there was initially no specific stated goal or agenda, UW-Madison associate history professor William Powell Jones says participants seem to be moving the focus to issues of social inequality and corporate greed.
Jones says it’s an interesting phenomenon when compared to past protest movements, especially since the loose organization is not stopping it from gaining some traction across the country. The demonstrations are starting to spread, with several “occupy” events taking place or planned across the country, including Wisconsin.
Jones says the emerging message of economic inequality resonates with many young people, especially those who have had a hard time finding opportunities during the economic downturn.
The events have little organization and rely mainly on social media sites to communicate, similar to how protesters operated out of the Capitol building in Madison earlier this year. Because of this, Jones says it’s hard to tell how much it will accomplish and if there will be any lasting impact from the demonstrations.
However, Jones notes it does seem to be having some influence on public policy debates in Washington D.C. He says many liberal politicians are now starting to talk more about increasing taxes on the wealthy and strengthening financial regulations.