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What the Wall Street protests will accomplish: 3 theories
Demonstrators try to call attention to bankers' misdeeds with a sit-in at the heart of the financial world. Will anyone listen to them?
 
An 'Occupy Wall Street' protester: For three days, thousands of people have rallied near the heart of the financial world to demand reforms.
An 'Occupy Wall Street' protester: For three days, thousands of people have rallied near the heart of the financial world to demand reforms.
CC BY: David Shankbone

The "Occupy Wall Street" protest entered its third day on Monday, with organizers at the counterculture website Adbusters saying the demonstrators represent "the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent." A heavy police presence kept the protesters, who numbered several thousand at the peak of the weekend's rally, off Wall Street itself. Instead, demonstrators gathered in a nearby park demanding reforms to keep a financial meltdown from happening again. What will they accomplish? Here, three theories:

1. Nothing. This is utterly meaningless theater
Thanks to strategically placed barricades and "a solid wall of NYPD officers," this rag-tag group of "Marxist-Anarchist protesters" didn't come close to occupying Wall Street, says LaborUnionReport at RedState. Indeed, "there were nearly as many tourists gawking as there were protesters." This "non-event was more akin to a concert in the park" than a watershed protest.

2.The protests are bringing the world's attention back to Wall Street reform
"Bravo to those courageous souls in the encampment on New York's Liberty Street," say Micah White and Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn at Britain's Guardian. Their message resonated far beyond Lower Manhattan. "There is a shared feeling on the streets around the world that the global economy is a Ponzi scheme run by and for Big Finance," and if politicians don't start doing something, expect more and more of these tent cities of protesters to pop up.

3. This is a test of how Arab Spring tactics work in the U.S.
Many of the protesters took their inspiration from the Arab Spring, says Sarah Lai Stirland at Talking Points Memo. "They say that they plan on camping out around Wall Street for months until President Obama forms a commission to address their concerns," and they're using Twitter to summon more demonstrators in lower Manhattan and in cities around the world. Time will tell whether these Tahrir Square methods are effective stateside.

 

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