Occupy Wall Street reaches The Hague

RNW archive

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Occupy Wall Street, the US protest against the financial elite and the banking sector, is spreading around the world. There are demonstrations planned for London’s financial district – and also for The Hague and Amsterdam. Occupy The Hague is demanding attention for a gamut of economic and political problems.

The Wall Street protests, which began last month, against “corporate greed and corrupt politics” have not only been repeated elsewhere in the country, in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston, the movement has spread to Canada and Europe. Demonstrations are planned for 15 October in The Hague and  a day later in Amsterdam. But Occupy The Hague goes beyond a protest against the financial system.

“The protest has scope for a range of opinions and interests,” spokesperson Robin van Boven says, “varying from the economic crisis to the Libyan uprising.”

“All these things are cause for concern. The point is that we want people to be aware of the problems that exist, and join us in looking for a solution. We think that at the moment politicians haven’t taken enough action.”

The Amsterdam stock exchange was picketed last month, under the name "Yes we camp", by a modest encampment of demonstrators and more protests are set for 16 October.

"Dutch politicians are too passive and too quick to point the finger at others," says Occupy The Hague. “The movement has no readymade solutions,” Mr Van Boven says, “but at least it’s willing to think about them.”

99 percent
Since 17 September, Wall Street has been the scene of daily demonstrations. What started as a small, inconspicuous protest, which mainly drew attention in social media, became world news when police cracked down hard on the occupation of the New York’s Brooklyn Bridge last weekend.

The protesters call themselves “the 99 percent” – those who don’t belong to the richest of the rich. The remaining one percent of Americans owns 36 percent of all private assets in the US. The wealthiest Americans have been least hard hit by the crisis, the protesters say.

Occupy Wall Street has no leaders and no distinct political colour. “The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent,” the website declares.

Tahir Square
OccupyWallStreet says the Egyptian protests on Tahrir Square which led the fall of President Mubarak are a source of inspiration. They even have a logistic organisation similar to the one in Cairo, which supplies food and sleeping bags and even produces a daily paper.

Recently, the protesters created their own app. Vibe, an alternative ´Twitter for protesters’. They say police cannot trace who is sending messages on the medium. Vibe can be downloaded in the iTunes App Store.

The demonstrators in New York intend to carry on for a long time. Support for the Dutch branch of the movement has been mushrooming, with three times as many hits on the organisation's website from one day to the next. Robin van Boven says Occupy The Hague is prepared to be in it for the long term, if necessary.

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(nc/rk)