The Occupy Movement defined 2011. In major cities throughout the US, following the wave of revolts in the Middle East and Northern Africa, Americans pissed off about the Great Recession, growing economic inequality and the lack of any real action by the federal government to alleviate these issues, particularly holding Wall Street accountable for its actions, led to months of highly visible protest.
It was my first year at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism when the protests flared up in the Fall of 2011, and I had the opportunity to cover how it manifested in Oakland and San Francisco for both our student publications (Oakland North and Mission Local) and the East Bay Express. It was an exhilarating moment covering street clashes between protesters and police, and documenting the seeds of a revolution.
Through its rise, climax and ultimate decline, the Occupy Movement forever changed the language of economic discourse in the media and government from austerity to inequality; it was one of the lasting effects from the movement, but the often-unseen effect was also providing a platform from which activists were able to coalesce around these issues and many others to organize and take actions after.