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A New York police officer gives instructions to Occupy Wall Street protesters about the route they must to take during a march in Lower Manhattan, in New York, September 16, 2012. Occupy Wall Street marks its first anniversary on Monday, and, in a bid to rejuvenate a movement that has failed to sustain momentum after sparking a national conversation about economic inequality last fall, activists plan once again to descend on New York's financial district. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST BUSINESS ANNIVERSARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
One year ago, on Sept. 17, 2011, a group of protesters moved into a little-known New York City park, saying they were there to Occupy Wall Street. And there, in Zuccotti Park, they stayed as their movement spread across the country and protesters occupied not just Wall Street but Oakland and Pittsburgh and small towns in between. Mass arrests and pepper sprayings followed as the phrase "we are the 99 percent" became a slogan even for people who would never camp out in a park and as the "mic check" became a familiar phenomenon.

There were few locations in which Occupy made it through the winter as an occupation, whether due to police crackdowns, weather, or the limitations of its brand of consensus governance. But it gave birth not just to renewed awareness of—and a new vocabulary for talking about—income and wealth inequality, but to a wave of activist groups focused on things like mortgage fraud and foreclosure defense, student debt, and more. And, after marching and rallying and a Rosh Hashanah service held by Occupy Judaism Sunday evening, protesters are back in lower Manhattan today, Sept. 17, the anniversary of the original Occupy Wall Street.

Groups of up to several hundred people formed separate marches around the financial district; given the non-centralized nature of the protests, it's difficult to guess at a total number of protesters. But, according to some observers, that non-centralized nature is also making them more effective at disrupting the streets:

Broadway is just a roiling mess right now from Pine St all the way down. Diffuse, barely coordinated affinity groups proving effective.
@macfathom via Twitter for iPhone
The police department has, of course, responded in its traditional over-the-top manner, with heavy police presence throughout the area. At least one legal observer and a journalist are among the arrests so far.
Police have almost certainly blocked more sidewalks, intersections, and streets this morning than Occupy. #s17
@sarahljaffe via Twitter for Android
Police have been snatching protesters off sidewalks arbitrarily and arresting them. #s17 #ows
@allisonkilkenny via Twitterrific
There may no longer be occupiers sleeping out in parks every night, there may never have been a unified set of goals for the movement, there may be no Occupy candidates for Congress a la the tea party, but a year later there's no doubt that Occupy reinvigorated the economic left, gave even non-political people a language to question the great American wealth divide, and made protest exciting and creative again.

For more discussion, see diaries by The Troubadour and mole333.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 07:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street and Daily Kos.

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