On the origins of Occupy Wall Street and its continued evolution

I’ve decided to spend tonight looking into the origins of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I knew that both anonymous and Adbusters played a role, but I wasn’t sure just how all of the pieces fit together… While I’m still not sure, I came across an interesting fact that I wanted to share. It seems as though this whole thing may have gotten started with a check for $20,000 written by a former stock broker by the name of Robert S. Halper to the editor of Adbusters. Here’s a clip from the New York Times blog.

…Mr. Halper said he first heard about the plan for protests in June when he visited Kalle Lasn, the editor in chief of Adbusters, a Canadian anticorporate magazine, in Vancouver. Over a steak dinner, the two longtime friends discussed Mr. Lasn’s project, a plan to fill Wall Street with protesters as a way to galvanize anger on the political left into a revolutionary movement resembling the Arab Spring.

“I rolled my eyes,” he said. “I was more interested in talking about health care.”

But Mr. Halper, who lives on the Upper West Side, had long been a supporter of the magazine, donating by his estimate $50,000 to $75,000 over the last 20 years since he was first attracted by the magazine’s spoofs on corporate logos and advertisements. So he wrote a check for $20,000 and returned to his life in New York.

A month later, the magazine sent an e-mail blitz to 90,000 readers and advocates calling for the occupation of Wall Street and setting the date for the first protesters to camp in downtown Manhattan.

“We sparked it,” said Mr. Lasn, 69, but “what they’ve done up until now — with a leaderless movement that is all-inclusive — that’s given them a kind of mystique that has launched a national conversation”…

I’m sure books will be written about the circumstances that conspired to make the whole thing happen.

If you’ll recall, it was tried a few months earlier, without much success.

In June, anonymous announced the launch of what was called Operation Empire State Rebellion. In an official statement, they said, “Occupation begins June 14th, 2011 at 1pm until all resolutions of the camp are accepted by the two party corporate establishment.” As you’ll recall, only a few people showed up, and those that did didn’t stay long. But the idea of the “occupation” was out there… Maybe it was the way the media-savy folks at Adbusters worded things, maybe it was the new location that had been chosen, maybe the difference was the $20,000 and whatever it was spent on, or maybe the time was just right. For whatever reason, by mid September things were different. And now, it doesn’t seem stoppable.

Speaking of which, word is, without even really trying, the Occupy Wall Street activists have already raised over $300,000, and may actually start airing their own television commercials soon, to counter those being launched by their detractors.

I’m fascinated by how this thing keeps growing and changing, and I can’t imagine how it will have evolved by next next Spring, if it makes it though the winter. Will there be an Occupy network on television? Will there be a new political party? Only time will tell.

To donate toward the airing of the Occupy commercial, click here.

And here’s the commercial.

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  1. anon
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    i have it on good authority that SOME of the origonal OWS crew were more-or-less put there by the powers that be in lower manhattan labor. But it doesn’t matter anymore. The protests have metastasized, and whatever their origin, the movement is at this point entirely its own thing.

  2. Edward
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    I’d like to know how Adbusters spent the $20,000.

  3. Eel
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    I’m not kidding when I say this. Maybe the topless young women was the key. All the first press I saw noted their presence. Maybe that conveyed the spirit of the thing better than young programmers in dark trench coats, wearing Guy Fawkes masks. And, as we know all, sex sells.

  4. John10
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I love that it was a Canadian anti-corporate magazine that brought our nation down.

  5. K2
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    There will be incredible books comparing the Tea Party to the Occupation. I cannot wait to read them.

  6. LOLZ
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I predict that the movement will evolve into a television show like Friends, only where, instead of sitting around on a couch drinking coffee, they sit around on a couch building bombs.

  7. Conspiracy Buff
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Are there rumors on the conservative blogosphere about how OWS came to be? I wouldn’t be surprised if there were theories about Van Jones using the money of George Soros to pay illegal immigrants to camp out.

  8. Meta
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    On this same subject, a guy by the name of Ed David just released a video shot at Occupy New York called “Where Do We Go From Here?” It’s really well done.


  9. Tatersalad
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    While the Occupy Wall Streeters are calling for jobs, Barack Obama is sending their tax dollars to Finland …………..for their own jobs bank! Move the rallies to 1600 Penn. Ave. my friends:

    Barack Obama is “stabbing” the American auto workforce and the Big Three in their backs while giving huge amounts of taxpayers dollars to Al Gore’s (connected) electric car company in Finland. What a pathetic, lying parasite Barack Obama is.


    ………and now He is defending this taxpers money being given to the Finish owned car company. The UAW stays silent on this! http://weaselzippers.us/2011/10/21/obama-admin-defends-529-million-taxpayer-loan-to-company-building-electric-cars-in-finland/

  10. Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Mark – I like the new treatment of Tater’s comments. But…where can I donate $10 to buy him/her a spellcheck?

  11. LisaD
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Hm.. where can I donate to air the video that Meta linked to instead of theirs? Commercials are a great idea – but this one just needs… heart.

  12. Dress Barn
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    I predict that by next summer Ben and Jerry’s has an Occupy flavor.

  13. Tatersalad
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Hey Murph………….thanks for the comment. Just shows your bias also to someone that doesn’t share your liberal, entitlement loving views! What a joke!

  14. Posted October 24, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Casting call: http://www.cnbc.com/id/44977826

  15. Eel
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Damn, that didn’t take long, did it Hillary?

  16. Meta
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    The Tea Party is raising money to start airing a television commercial of their own.


  17. TaterSalad
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Occupy Wall Street has now aligned themselves with the American Nazi Party and the people on this website are supporters of Occcupy Wall St. What does that do for you now? You must also be a supporter of Timmothy McVeigh then. Right?


  18. Meta
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Occupy Oakland was overrun by police last night. Police are denying the use of rubber bullets, but there seems to be some evidence that they were used, in addition to tear gas and flash grenades. Here’s television news footage.


  19. Demetrius
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink


    If this were happening in Cairo, or Damascus, or even Havana, the news media would be bringing us live coverage of the “freedom fighters,” and Hilary Clinton would be issuing stern statements about “respecting the rights of peaceful protesters.”

  20. Demetrius
    Posted October 26, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Good thing the “authorities” waited to bust up the Oakland OWS demonstration until AFTER President Obama was finished with his $7,500-a-plate, $1 Million+ fundraiser across the bay in San Francisco on Tuesday.


    I mean, that could have been *awkward* …

  21. Meta
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Now it’s evolving into a fashion line.


  22. Meta
    Posted November 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Or maybe not.

    It looks like Jay Z stopped production of the shirt when it became obvious to him that people expect proceeds of this “Occupy All Streets” shirt to go toward a worth cause, and not just into his pocket.


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