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What is Occupy Wall Street and why is it coming to D.C.?

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On Thursday, the "Occupy" movement will find its way to the streets of Washington, D.C.

The series of protests, which began in mid-September when 1,000 protesters took to Wall Street in New York City (and haven't really moved since), will come to Freedom Plaza in Downtown D.C. with the ideals of shifting economic power to the population and ending government regulation and "ending corporate rule."

With that said, what is Occupy Wall Street, anyway, and why is it coming to D.C.?

What is it?

Occupy Wall Street began on Sept. 17, when about 1,000 people, hundreds of whom camped out overnight, marched on lower Manhattan to protest, among other things, their perception of corporate America's influence on politics and government.

The protest was spurred and encouraged by Adbusters, a Canadian-based anti-consumerist/pro-environment group.

A cross-section of the population, from college students to the unemployed to middle-age workers and from all walks of life and political opinion, have turned out to join the protests, which have now stretched for more than three weeks.

Hundreds were arrested in the first week, including some who claim they were pepper sprayed.

What happened at the Brooklyn Bridge? I heard 700 people got arrested.

During the course of protests, activism has spread not only nationwide - similar protests have popped up in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and, now, D.C. - but within New York itself.

On Oct. 1, a large band of protesters decided they were going to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn. The chain of events is still in dispute, but the New York Times reports that 700 people were arrested when the protest spilled off walkways and into the road, blocking traffic. Protesters say, though, that some officers guided marchers into the roadway.

What are protesters saying about their mission?

"I don't want to see any homeless people on the streets, and I don't want to see a veteran or elderly people struggle. We all should have our fair share. We all vote, pay taxes. Tax the rich." -Apollonia Childs

"We don't have voices, we don't have lobbyists, so we've been pretty much neglected by Washington." -Patrick Putnam

"Our beautiful system of American checks and balances has been thoroughly trashed by the influence of banks and big finance." -Marisa Engerstrom

In a release, D.C. protest organizers list seven key messages:

-Tax the rich and corporations.
-End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending.
-Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security, improve Medicare for all.
-End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests.
-Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation.
-Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs, raise wages.
-Get money out of politics.

What are their goals?

As the Washington Post puts it, the protests are gaining momentum nationwide, but their goals are still a bit foggy.

Protest organizers have proven hard to get a hold of, but organized events are popping in cities across America.

The Post's Ezra Klein calls the movement unique in that it lacks "clear demands...or an identifiable organizational structure."

The protest's website, occupywallst.org, says in its mission statement that they "represent the 99 percent" and won't tolerate the "greed and corruption of the 1 percent."

An introductory blog post, which introspectively asks why they're doing this, simply answers, "Because we can."

In an interview with The Nation, a protester says that there really is no single demand the movement is making, but they point to the axiom of "People before profits" as a unifying theme.

Why is it coming to D.C.?

Presumably, because since protesters have already taken their message to the financial capital of the United States, their next stop is the government center of the country.

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