Blog #5 – Occupy Wall Street – America’s Version of the London Riots

After discussing the London riots in class, I thought about it and while mayor Bloomberg has spoken about how it is a possibility something of a similar nature may occur in New York City, it already has. Occupy Wall Street is a much more tame version of the London riots but it has the same general impacts – people become aware of issues that were formerly hidden in the dark.

While riots typically start out as a demonstration, they always end up in violence. We are lucky that in New York City the “movement” was fairly peaceful. It got the message across without mass destruction of buildings, shops, and cars. But, there was violence. Of course it did not start that way – in every single protest they launched it began with chanting and signs but as police intervention came into play violence was added into the mix. There are many pictures floating around the internet with protestors bloody faces and people being arrested unjustly. 

But when you compare the two protests/riots/movements, it is complete opposites. The media coverage in New York showed that Occupy Wall Street was a scary place to be, that these people were rioting and overall causing trouble. The footage you see though is that of a non-violent protest/movement that the law enforcement used brutality to disband. The London riots were the exact opposite, the movement/protest/riots were very brutal in that there was a great deal of looting, arson, tear gas, and violence against police where they tried to intervene and failed. 

One can only speculate as to why the Occupy Wall Street movement was relatively non-violent. Maybe it was because Americans haven’t had as much of a clash with the police in the prior months. Maybe it was more violent towards the police than we know, because after all, it is impossible to know what really happened unless you were there or heard a first hand account of the events. Maybe the violence in London was due to fundamental differences in their culture where they aren’t taught that peaceful protests are ok and so they jump to violence to solve their problems. It’s difficult to know for sure. 

A feature similar to both movements/riots is that there is a confusion about the messages they are trying to carry across because of the immense size of them. With London it was a race issue, financial issue, police brutality issue, and a higher education issue. New York is a more complex issue about how capitalism is fundamentally wrong, ultimately boiling down to financial turmoil. It seems that in both instances, maybe because I feel that they are both classified as innovative, money is the major driving force behind a movement.


5 responses to “Blog #5 – Occupy Wall Street – America’s Version of the London Riots

  1. I think the comparison between Occupy Wall Street and the UK Riots was a good one. It also leaves you with the idea of how bad things could get if they are not acted on correctly. They were both fighting for their rights, and their lack of opportunities

  2. There have been many riots in the past few years, but only a few them really get the publicity. It has come to my attention recently that there have been riots and strikes in Canada, a country right above us, about Educational Cutbacks and whatnot for several months but I only just heard about it recently. There are also riots in Russia where people were being beaten and tear gassed by police forces which has had very little coverage on. It’s very sad when the police force who is meant to protect and serve the citizens, rather turn on them.

  3. Outstanding comparison/contrast, M. It’s a great framework for debate.

    Indeed, qawsican. Over 165,000 students have been on strike in Quebec for months. And the province has seen its share of “riots” in the recent past. Also, in the broader “occupy” nationwide, there have been varying levels of “militance,” with Oakland featuring more intense and violent conflict between law enforcement and movement participants, and higher levels of property destruction (typically targeted at corporations and financial institutions). New York has seen relatively little property destruction. The respective sizes of the police forces probably helps explain the difference.

  4. Truthfully I would say that the occupy demonstration was most effective in relaying their message of government and socio-economic change. It was innovative, where as the UK riots are definitely displaying extreme rebellion. Essentially, both demonstrations want change however occupy was effective and peaceful, the riots were outrageously violent and ineffective. In fact the riots caused more harm than good, at least that is how I perceived it.

  5. I have a friend who lives in London so it was interesting to hear from her when this was taking place. She comes from a fairly affluent background, so this incident did not affect her or where she lived

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