The Occupy Movement At 2: Many Voices, Many Messages Demonstrators packed lower Manhattan on Tuesday, two years after the launch of the Occupy Wall Street movement. While Occupy's prominence has faded since becoming a household name in 2011, its supporters say the group's concerns have helped prompt a national conversation about income inequality.

The Occupy Movement At 2: Many Voices, Many Messages

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. Today marks the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the movement that protests corporate greed and America's so-called 1 percent. To mark the occasion, demonstrators fanned out across New York City for marches and various other actions.

NPR's Margot Adler observed some of the day's events. She started in Zuccotti Park, the site of the original protest.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Already by 10 a.m., several hundred people had gathered in Zuccotti Park. It was hard to assess numbers because people would leave for other actions, like a McDonald's protest or a march to Washington Square. The group changed and reformed like Occupy itself. Most of the bigger actions were planned for later in the day.

At 10:30, a spokesman for the group Occupy Evolve, Sumumba, mounted the Zuccotti Park steps for a news conference. And if you've been wondering what are Occupy's issues, Sumumba was quite concise.

SUMUMBA SOBUKWE: The issue of money out of politics, the issue of police brutality, the issue of corporations running over our democracy, is what it's about.

ADLER: One action today is a rally near the United Nations in support of...

MELINDA MARKOWITZ: The Robin Hood tax.

ADLER: Melinda Markowitz, of National Nurses United, says the Robin Hood tax is a tax of 0.5 percent on Wall Street firms, which she says would create billions to support education and infrastructure. She says 200 organizations are supporting this action. Another speaker was author and journalist Chris Hedges, who talked about his lawsuit against the detention of American citizens without due process.And Cathy O'Neil, from Occupy's Alternative Banking Group, was there to celebrate what she called a birth. Here she is along with the human microphone, one of Occupy's trademarks.

CATHY O'NEIL: The birth of a book...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) The birth of a book...

O'NEIL: It's called "Occupy Finance."

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) It's called "Occupy Finance."

O'NEIL: We wrote it.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) We wrote it.

ADLER: Their group met for two years, every week, at Columbia University to discuss the financial system. O'Neil, a former math professor who once worked at a hedge fund with Larry Summers and now does data science, says her group has a precise mission to address financial reform and end "too big to fail." As for the free book, which they handed out...

O'NEIL: Explains how the systems uses us...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) It explains how the system uses us.

O'NEIL: How the bankers scam us...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) How the bankers scam us.

O'NEIL: How the regulators failed to do their job.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Repeating) How the regulators failed to do their job.

ADLER: The conventional wisdom about Occupy is that its lack of leaders doomed it, and that it didn't figure out how to take power - like the Tea Party. There's another view. Occupy activist Nancy Mancias says that by emphasizing growing inequality and the 99 percent, Occupy changed the conversation.

NANCY MACIAS: Occupy Wall Street brought the economic crisis, the discussion of the economy, to the front burner.

ADLER: Some commentators say this change gave traction to the "47 percent" speech that may ultimately have doomed Mitt Romney and fueled the progressive candidacy of Bill de Blasio, who could well become New York's next mayor. Cathy O'Neil, that data scientist with the alternative banking group, says it's hard to pinpoint cause and effect, but...

O'NEIL: Look at Larry Summers. He also didn't get the Fed chair. And I am not going to say it was us; but I'm going to tell you, it was partly us. We brought up these issues. We made people think about not continuing to reward the people that were responsible for the mess.

ADLER: So Occupy is still around in its man,y often-disorganized forms, trying to change the conversation.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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