The Occupy Wall Street protests began about a month ago at Zuccotti Park, a financial district of Wall Street, and quickly spread across the country to other major cities. Since the movement has made no formal demands, we are left reconstructing their beliefs on the basis of demographics and surveys of those who have participated.
What do we know about the movement? The Wall Street Journal conducted the first known systematic poll of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement giving us a glimpse of who they are.
For starters, we know they are younger than the Tea Party folks. Sixty-four percent of them are under the age of thirty-four. We also know a large contingent consists of union conglomerations, socialist groups, and self-described communists.
The survey showed that many OWS protesters were committed to left-wing policies and had overwhelming voted for President Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Only 2% of OWS protesters identify themselves as Republican.
The WSJ survey showed that 65% believe that the government has a moral obligation to provide health care, college education, and a secure retirement to all "no matter the cost." Such views do not reflect 99% of the public according to recent polling. And certainly 99% of us don't agree with the phrase "no matter the cost." People interested in balancing their books typically don't use that sort of language when it comes to spending their money.
Naturally then, OWS activists are not terribly opposed to raising taxes. Seventy-seven percent of OWS protesters want to tax the rich more, but 58% oppose raising taxes on the middle and lower classes. Such ways of looking at economics doesn't pay off our debt. As Congressman Paul Ryan put it, raising taxes on millionaires by 100% would only run our government about four months.
Interestingly, 85% of OWS protesters were employed. This is a contrast from professional protesters that have been tailgating Governor Walker and Congressman Ryan. They tell the media they're unemployed and Republican politicians aren't doing anything to find them a job. Yet no one has thought to ask how they have the financial means to track down politicians from district to district.
And on a more disturbing note, 31% openly support the use of violence to advance an agenda. Here are a few example abbreviated for simplicity.
At Time Square in New York, OWS protesters engaged in anti-Semitic rants and clashed with police throwing bottles and garbage at officers. More than 800 protesters were arrested for blocking the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. .
At Occupy Baltimore, organizers had to manage problems with sexual harassment.
At Occupy Seattle, a male protester indecently exposed himself to five children.
At Occupy Cleveland, a 19 year old female protester complained that she was raped by another protester inside a tent; she was later accused by organizers for being a plant to discredit their movement.
At Occupy Boston, two were arrested for dealing heroin in a tent; police found a child living with drug dealers.
At Occupy Dallas, there are reports of sexual assault concerning a 14 year old runaway; she passed herself off as a 19 year old to organizers. The reports say she had sex with several men at the camp. Separately, twenty-three protesters at Occupy Dallas were arrested for blockading the front doors of a Chase Bank branch by interlocking their arms.
And at Occupy Oakland, more than eighty protesters were arrested for illegal assembly. Police had to clear out the large encampment due to sanitary and public safety issues. Protesters threw bottles, rocks, and beer cans at police. Other protesters even doused police with hazardous materials. Subsequently, police responded with the use of tear gas and non-lethal projectiles.
When Tea Parties first took the stage nearly three years ago, there was much talk about bigotry and racism. Protesters caught on tape bad-talking "illegals," and the media was all but eager to provide a stereotype. You can disagree with their politics, but Tea Parties across the nation have been clean, nonviolent, and law abiding.
By the same standard, the leftist version of the Tea Party isn't quite matching up. Why is there such a disparity in the behavior of these two groups? Why is the OWS crowd having so many run-ins with the law? Soon, we hope to take a closer look at this question.