When the Chinese foreign ministry and U.S. President Barack Obama feel the need to comment on Occupy Wall Street – sympathetically in both cases – it is fair to say that the protest movement, one month old today, has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.
“We feel that there are issues here that are worth pondering,” The Associated Press quotes Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin as saying about the still loosely defined group demonstrating against corporate greed and economic inequality.
President Obama, speaking at a dedication of a new memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington on Sunday, said, “Dr. King would want us to challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing those who work there.”
Nobel Prize winner in economics and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman expresses his hope that the movement will turn the United States around in a way that President Obama’s 2008 election has so far failed to do.
An unlikely expression of support came from the chief executive of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, who told the Financial Times that banks “just compete and stampede to make money at the expense of consumers,” adding that “to some extent, I can understand the mindset of those demonstrators against Wall Street.”
The mass demonstrations, which started on Sept. 17 when a thousand or more protesters first marched through New York’s financial district, have by now gone global. Protests in London have come near but not on the private property on which the London Stock Exchange is located. London’s Telegraph says volunteers have offered free food – fresh bread, soup and sundry other items – to demonstrators who camped peacefully amid a heavy police presence two months after riots, looting and arson struck London, Manchester and other English cities.