HuffPo Live Celebrates OWS on Two-Year Anniversary

Interviews reveal occupiers’ extremism that was often ignored by news media.

On the second anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, protesters once again gathered in New York City to protest. Agenda items included puppet theater and calls for a “Robin Hood” tax on Wall Street.

The Occupy Movement that began its class warfare camp out in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, 2011, but its liberal anti-capitalist rhetoric, as well as violence and criminal acts, soon spread to many cities across the U.S.

As the left-wing movement turned two, Huffington Post Live host Alyona Minkovski interviewed a group of Occupy supporters who have remained involved in the movement since that time.

Minkovski read one online comment that asked “was it a mistake that [Occupy Wall Street] was a peaceful protest?” She acknowledged the dangerous nature of this question, though she compared the protests to the violent austerity riots in Europe and to the Arab Spring revolutions. Long-time Occupier and co-director of liberal organization It’s Our Economy, Margaret Flowers answered the question, not by denigrating violence, but with a pragmatic argument that “violence would have been repressed more strictly.”

Flowers claimed that the goal of Occupy Wall Street is not to pursue concrete legislation. Instead it is “about creating a new world we want to live in.” Furthermore, calling from the Occupy protest in New York, Jose Martin (another Occupier) clarified that the goal of the movement was not about demanding something from the power structure but to “create models for a new society.” Martin proceeded to identify himself as “more on the radical end” than the liberal/progressive spectrum.

What sort of change do the OWS protesters want? Nothing short of the “end of capitalism.” The movement’s website remains radical. It is prominently emblazoned with a picture of a closed fist, historically associated with revolutionaries including the Russian Bolshevik party. Continuing its revolutionary theme, the website is plastered with Marxist slogans like “The revolution continues worldwide” and “the only solution is World Revolution.” The movement continues to “demand an end to capitalism.”

During the HuffPo live interview, the Occupiers did express support for various proposals such a more than doubling the minimum wage to $15-an-hour as previously supported by the fast food workers unions. They also took credit for the withdrawal of Larry Summers’ candidacy for Federal Reserve Chairman. Flowers also claimed Occupy had succeeded two years ago in changing the national conversation concerning money in politics.

Some Occupiers planned to march for a “Robin Hood” tax, a progressive redistribution scheme, that would mean taxing Wall Street financial transactions. The government would then spend the funds on various issues, including climate change.

While many former Occupy Wall Street protesters have spent the intervening years preserving the structure of the movement and organizing themselves around similar ideals, the protesters as a whole have dropped out of the public eye.

Flowers said that the media had provided an accurate platform to allow the protesters to “let us go with our message” and “allowed us to say what we wanted to say.”  But the Media Research Center’s Business and Media Institute found national newspapers and network news programs in 2011 embraced the “noble” protesters and rarely used labels like “liberal,” and almost never “socialist” in coverage of OWS. Out of 69 national news reports (newspaper and broadcast) about "Occupy Wall Street" or "wall street protests," only eight stories have used described the protesters or protests with words indicative of the left-wing extremism represented. That's only 12 percent of the time. It was even difficult to find the word “revolution” in news reports about OWS, even though Communists and socialists were part of the movement.

— Sean Long is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Sean Long on Twitter.