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The Year In Review: Occupy Wall Street

David Callahan

We owe much to the Occupy movement. In less than a month, protestors across the country (and the world) ignited a conversation about the destructive nature of inequality in our lives and in our democracy. With a motto that created a big tent—We Are The 99%—the leaderless movement seemed to resonate with Americans from the beginning.

The traction of the protests compelled Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to give a speech on inequality, though he defended inequality as the positive outcome of social mobility, conveniently omitting the fact that mobility in America has declined and is now lower here than in class-defined Europe. The Occupy movement can also take credit for moving President Obama to be sharper in his critique of failed conservative policies and bolder in his support for progressive taxation and public investment-driven job creation.The movement also taught Americans something else—as millions watched the shocking assaults of non-violent protestors by the police, the movement helped lift the veil on the militarized police tactics that communities of color have been complaining about for decades.

The big question on everyone’s mind is where the movement goes now that its encampment strategy is all but defeated? Will they embrace an electoral strategy? Will other movements carry the momentum forward? The answers to those questions will be forthcoming, but there’s no indication this movement is over. As their signs express, You Can’t Evict An Idea.

Read more from Demos in The Year in Review: What 2011 Meant For The 99% >>>