Everything You Need To Know About Occupy Wall Street

Twinkling, "Mic Check," and Zucotti Park: A Guide to Protest Terminology                   

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Oct. 13 2011 7:17 PM

Everything You Need To Know About Occupy Wall Street


Twinkling, "mic check," and Zucotti Park: a guide to protest terminology.

Occupy Wall Street.
A Wall Street protester holds up a sign at Zuccotti Park where hundreds of other activists are camping.

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Sure, you might be familiar with "99 percent" by now. But have you been reading the Occupied Wall Street Journal? Do you know why Zuccotti Park is important? Below is a list of terms you need to know to be up to date on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Elsewhere in Slate, Eliot Spitzer writes that the protesters have already shaken up American politics, Jacob Weisberg looks at the similarities between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, David Weigel spent two days watching the protests, and Annie Lowrey looks at the "53 percenters."

99 percent    
/   nahyn·tee·nahyn   per·sent   /

A reference to growing income inequality between 99 percent of Americans and the top 1 percent of earners, who have amassed approximately one-third of national wealth. Now the de facto slogan for OWS, “We are the 99%,” was inspired by an independent tumblr blog by the same name, which went viral thanks to its often gut-wrenching anecdotes from individuals hit by economic hardship.

Anthony Bologna     /   an·tuh·nee   buh·loh·nee   /

An NYPD officer who pepper-sprayed a protester on Sept. 26, an event that went viral, getting the protests mentioned on the Daily Show.

Facilitators     /   fuh·sil·i·tey·ters   /

The volunteers who run Occupy Wall Street assemblies.

General assemblies     /   jen·er·uhl   uh·sem·blees   /

Keeping with many protesters’ calls for a more egalitarian society, Occupy movements in several cities have established daily meetings seeking consensus among participants on everything from long-term objectives to daily operations of campsites. This and its related tactics evolved between March 31, when a left-wing coalition occupied the state capitol in Albany, N.Y., to stop the 2012 budget, and May 12, when that coalition held a little-covered march.

“Mic check”     /   mahyk   chek   /

What speakers at general assemblies or marches say to announce that they want to start speaking and have their words repeated throughout a crowd.

The New Bottom Line     /   thuh   noo   bot·uhm   lahyn   /

A year-old coalition of community groups whose affiliates have bolstered the numbers of Occupiers from city to city.

The Occupied Wall Street Journal    
/   thuh   ok·yuh·pahyd   wawl   street   jur·nl   /

A samizdat newspaper mass-produced in Queens and distributed near the main New York protest.

Occupy Together     /   ok·yuh·pahyn   tuh·geth·er   /

Online social-media hub used to organize meetings in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in cities worldwide. As of Oct. 10, the site lists “meetups” going on in 1,331 cities—from Boise, Idaho, to Berlin—with 7,919 registered “occupiers.”

The Other 98 Percent     /   thuh   uhth·er   nahyn·tee·eyt   per·sent   /

A grassroots tax-fairness group whose name became accidentally confused with the explosion of the We Are the 99% movement. Launched on tax day in 2010, they began by bracketing Tea Party protests; they now show up to Occupy rallies.

The People’s Microphone     /   thuh   pee·puhl·z   mahy·kruh·fohn   /

Bullhorns and microphones are not allowed at Zuccotti Park. Instead, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators addressing the crowd say “mic check,” giving everyone else the cue to loudly repeat short segments of whatever the speaker says so others farther away can hear.

“Temperature check”     /   tem·per·uh·cher   chek   /

What facilitators say when they want to see if the crowd is ready to get talking.

Twinkling     /   twing·kling   /

Wiggling one’s fingers to signal agreement with what’s being said, a way of moving along the general assemblies without applause that drowns out the speakers.

We Are the 53 Percent    
/   wee   ahr   thuh   fif·tee·three   per·sent   /

A parody/response to the We Are the 99% tumblr

Zuccotti Park     /  zoo · cot · tee   pahrk   /

Formerly known as Liberty Plaza Park, the 33,000-square-foot park in New York City’s financial district has for the last four weeks been home to several hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters. The park is now named for John E. Zuccotti, a real estate investor and part-time member of the City Planning Commission, whose company, Brookfield Properties, purchased the park and spent $8 million renovating it in 2005 after it was badly damaged on 9/11.

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