Since its beginning, Occupy Wall Street and the protests it spawned across the US have faced critics who say it has no goals and wouldn’t achieve any substantial accomplishments. But a closer look at its record of achievement reveals that it has done more than spark conversation around Wall Street’s watercoolers. Occupy groups have shifted the national debate on taxes and inequality, helped homeowners stay in their homes, forced major policy issues to the forefront of debate at the state and federal level, and gotten the attention of the institutions they’ve challenged most forcefully.
ThinkProgress has compiled a brief list of Occupy Wall Street’s accomplishments:
Income Inequality: The 99% movement refocused America’s political debate, forcing news outlets and eventually politicians to focus on rising income inequality. While debt and deficits were the primary focus of the media before the movement started, their attention after the movement began shifted to jobs, Wall Street, and unemployment.
Occupy Our Homes: The movement has drawn attention to many of the predatory, discriminatory, and fraudulent practices perpetrated by banks during the foreclosure crisis, and across the country, Occupy groups, religious leaders, and community organizations have helped homeowners prevent wrongful foreclosures on their homes.
Move Your Money: On Bank Transfer Day, activists helped more than 40.000 Americans move their money from large banks to credit unions, and more than 650.000 switched to credit unions last October. Religious groups have taken up the cause as well, moving $55 million before Thanksgiving. This year, a San Francisco interfaith group moved $10 million from Wells Fargo and other groups marked Lent by moving more money from Wall Street. As a result, analysts say the nation’s 10 biggest banks could lose $185 billion in customer deposits this year “due to customer defections.”
Fighting For Positive Policies: Occupy groups have pushed for positive policy outcomes at both the state and federal levels. Occupy The SEC submitted a 325-page comment letter on the Volcker Rule, a regulation to rein in big banks. Pressure from protesters forced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to reverse his opposition to a millionaire’s tax, and activists fought Indiana Republicans’ union-busting “right-to-work” law, and have pushed big banks to stop financing destructive environmental practices like mountaintop removal mining in coal states.
Though many of the camps across the US have been disbanded, the 99% Movement will probably not go away.