The Occupation of Wall Street


Over 5 years ago the Occupy Wall Street sit-in in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan was cleared. On the 17th November there was a march in protest and, as I was studying at Columbia at the time, I went along. On a street corner someone was handing out posters saying “We are the 99%” in various languages including Greek, Spanish and Arabic. They were the work of Kyle Goen and Dread Scott. It was made to represent the transnational protest movements that Occupy Wall Street was part of.

It is fitting, then, that the evening after I picked this up I went to see a talk at Columbia about the Egyptian revolution with Hossam al-Hamalawy, Gigi Ibrahim, Nada Matta and Tim Mitchell. I showed off the poster and the audience were all suitably impressed. The phrase in the yellow sun “Ihtilal”, drew particular attention. It means occupation and, although certainly an appropriate word for Occupy Wall Street, it is most commonly associated, currently, with the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

I managed to get the poster back to the UK from America and it still hangs as a material memory of Occupy Wall Street and the moment in 2011-12 when it felt that a real left wing movement might be growing.

About 80 were produced but, since they were handed out at a protest, it is unclear how many still survive.

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