occupy wall street animal rights environment

Occupy Wall Street, which is described as a “leaderless resistance movement” that vows to “no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent” started on September 17, 2011 in New York City and has been rapidly spreading across the country.

The protesters were initially ignored by mainstream media, then criticized for lacking cohesion and are now beginning to garner more widespread attention, as they increase in number and strength.

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On October 1, 2011, the group released their first ‘official’ statement, which expresses why people feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world. While the demands of the group are still being negotiated and developed, the official statement outlines the key problems that are being caused by corporate greed and leading to mass injustice in the United States and overseas.

High amongst the list of key facts they want to be widely known is the following statement directly addressing animal rights:

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“They [corporations] have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.”

The scope of the focus on animal rights at the moment is unclear. However, the group plans to release additional documents in the coming days, including a declaration of demands, which may contain more details. Either way, it’s great to see animal rights finally being included within a broader social justice movement.

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As we’ve pointed out before, our exploitation of land, animals and people as nothing more than economic resources is primarily due to modern political and economic systems that promote hierarchy and domination. These systems have created a cultural mindset that has led to the unabashed use of animals like commodities, with complete disregard to their interests, human health or the impact on the environment. Developing any real solutions to these challenges will require us to first recognize their interconnected sources.

So far, the Occupy Wall Street Movement does not seem to have directly addressed what corporate greed has done to the environment, with the exception of a brief statement about corporate forces blocking alternate forms energy to keep us dependent on oil and purposely covering up oil spills.

Perhaps the scope of the movement’s environmental focus will become clearer in subsequent documents, but it’s heartening to see a grassroots, non-violent resistance effort finally embracing the idea that a modern social justice movement is incomplete if it does not address injustices being perpetrated against people, animals and the planet.