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How Occupy Wall Street Got Started

By Andy Kroll, Mother Jones - October 17, 2011

Months before the first occupiers descended on Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, before the news trucks arrived and the unions endorsed, before Michael Bloomberg and Michael Moore and Kanye West made appearances, a group of artists, activists, writers, students, and organizers gathered on the fourth floor of 16 Beaver Street, an artists' space near Wall Street, to talk about changing the world. There were New Yorkers in the room, but also Egyptians, Spaniards, Japanese, Greeks. Some had played a part in the Arab Spring uprising; others had been involved in the protests catching fire across Europe. But no one at 16 Beaver knew they were about light the fuse on a protest movement that would sweep the United States and fuel similar uprisings around the world.

The group often credited with sparking Occupy Wall Street is Adbusters, the Canadian anti-capitalist magazine that, in July, issued a call to flood lower Manhattan with 90,000 protesters. "Are you ready for a Tahrir moment?" the magazine asked. But that's not how Occupy Wall Street sprang to life. Without that worldly group that met at 16 Beaver and later created the New York City General Assembly, there might not have been an Occupy Wall Street as we know it today.

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