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Occupy Wall Street Movement Sees First Anniversary

via Rick Hampson, USA Today

Protesters will mark the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement today with rallies in more than 30 cities around the world, including a march on the New York Stock Exchange, not far from the park where the movement was born.

But as the last of its urban encampments close and interest wanes in a movement without an organizational hierarchy or an action agenda, it’s unclear whether Occupy’s first birthday will be its last.

Hector Cordero-Guzman, a City University of New York sociologist who has studied the movement, says it has made an impact. Many of its complaints and some of its rhetoric — notably “We are the 99%!” — have become the stuff of mainstream politics.

Occupy, he says, “changed the political conversation from where it was last summer. Income inequality, money in politics, the influence of Wall Street — you can see those now in the presidential campaign. You see it in questions about Bain Capital and about Mitt Romney’s tax returns.”

He was referring to Democratic claims that the GOP nominee’s venture capital firm profited by cutting jobs at companies it bought and to Democratic calls for Romney to release more information about his personal income taxes.

On Monday, a couple hundred protesters converged near the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate Occupy’s anniversary, marking the day they first gathered at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan last September. About a dozen were arrested after sitting on the sidewalk, but there was no sign of a planned “people’s wall” on the streets surrounding the stock exchange. Instead, protesters held a small meeting where they talked about the ills of Wall Street and corporate greed.

About 300 people marched in New York on Saturday, the first of three days of rallies, teach-ins and other events. At least a dozen were arrested then, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct, police said.

The anniversary comes as Occupy encampments continue to close.

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