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The Big Picture

Occupy Wall Street

November 16, 2011, 12:00 am

The myriad criticisms levied at the Occupy Wall Street movement are, in many ways, as varied as the grievances of the protesters themselves. But if the mainstream media has gathered behind any one particular refrain, it’s that Occupy is doomed to failure without a set of unified goals. Whether or not this proves to be true, the future is unknown. The debate around Occupy has compared it to other grassroots movements such as civil rights, the Bonus Army and the tea party. Here, SFR samples the progression of a few other protests in the last century.

United Auto Workers Strikes, Nov. 18, 1936-March 12, 1937

The Buildup: General Motors doesn’t allow the UAW union to elect its own leaders. GM reduces wages for and unexpectedly fires a slew of workers.

The Boil Over: Union workers strike several GM plants, including the Fischer Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Mich., by locking themselves inside in a “sit-down.”

The Fallout: GM finally meets with the union at the urging of President Theodore Roosevelt. Workers at the 17 plants that struck receive wage increases and the UAW receives recognition as the sole bargaining agency for autoworkers.

The Verdict: Success.


Montgomery, Ala., Bus Boycott, Dec. 1, 1955-Dec. 21, 1956

The Buildup: Separate but equal legislation allows the Montgomery bus system to require black Americans to sit in designated seating and to give up their seats to white riders if ordered by the bus driver.

The Boil Over: When the “black section” is moved back on a crowded bus, rider Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white male. The police arrive and arrest Parks, igniting a yearlong boycott of the bus system by Montgomery black Americans.

The Fallout: Prominent black leaders, including Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., form the Montgomery Improvement Association to present the issue to court. Federal judges rule bus segregation laws are unconstitutional, and the US Supreme Court upholds the decision. Buses resume full service with no segregation in December 1956.

The Verdict: Success.


LGBTQ Equal Rights March on Washington, April 25, 1993

The Buildup: LGBTQ community feels discriminated against by employers and the American population as a whole. A ban on homosexuals openly serving in the US military also fuels protesters’ desire for equality.

The Boil Over: Organizers call for every American who believes in equal rights to march on Washington as a show of strength and presence to have legislation passed for equality and acceptance of LGBTQ lifestyles in America.

The Fallout: Protesters march from the Ellipse, past the White House and to the National Mall to hold a rally featuring speeches from supportive politicians and figures in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

The Verdict: Partial success.


Binghamton Tea Party, Jan. 24, 2009

The Buildup: New York Gov. David Paterson proposes a tax on sweetened soft drinks to pay for obesity-related health care costs and discourage New Yorkers’ overconsumption of sugars.

The Boil Over: Dozens of citizens of Binghamton, NY, pour gallons of soda into the Susquehanna River to protest the proposed tax, emulating the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

The Fallout: Gov. Paterson decides to withdraw the tax proposal, and political conservatives in America rally around the victory against taxation and begin to call themselves “tea partiers.”

The Verdict: Success.

 

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