Occupy Wall Street protest spreads to the South
By Joe Atkins, Labor South
The ongoing Occupy Wall Street protest in New York is spreading across the country, including the South. Activists in Memphis, Raleigh, and other Southern cities are organizing similar protests to represent the "99 percent" of the population not raking in the dough over the past several years.
In Memphis, according to a draft statement by the protesters, "workers, students, the unemployed and those on Social Security benefits" — in other words, those who are not part of the 1 percent of the nation's population that has accumulated billions as a result of America's top-down economy -- will stage a protest in the city's Overton Park and join what has the potential to become a massive national movement similar to what has taken place in the Middle East over the past year.
These are people who "have not benefited from the various financial bailouts, tax breaks and other subsidies that the dominant 1 percent of the population has gained over the past years," the statement says.
In New York, police arrested some 700 protesters on Brooklyn Bridge earlier this month. Mainstream media has resisted giving the protest any coverage, but it has now grown large enough and spread far enough that they can no longer ignore it.
Major labor unions have now joined the protest, providing an element that was missing in the protests of the late 1960s. Perhaps now, after four decades, students, activists and blue-collar workers can finally join together to take their stand against the plutocracy that has taken over this country.
Joe Atkins is a professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi and author of "Covering for the Bosses: Labor and the Southern Press." A veteran journalist, Atkins previously worked as the congressional correspondent with Gannett New Service's Washington bureau and with newspapers in North Carolina and Mississippi.