In the weeks since Americans fed up with the status quo hit New York’s Zuccotti Park to protest issues like economic inequality and social injustice, the movement has spread around the globe. On Saturday at 6 p.m. ET, MTV’s special “True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street” will introduce viewers to a handful of the young demonstrators trying to bring about change.
But if there’s another U.S. city that has taken to the spirit of the Occupy protests to the next level, it’s surely Oakland, California. In downtown Oakland, about 7,000 activists turned out on Wednesday for a general strike, which led to arrests and business shutdowns; the nation’s fifth largest port was even forced to close.
Activist and journalist Davey D, an associate of MTV News correspondent and Oakland native Sway Calloway, has been covering the events since they first started. He told us that Wednesday’s events made a major statement.
“Shutting down the port of Oakland is a huge thing that hasn’t happened in decades and hasn’t happened in Oakland in over 65 years,” Davey said. “It makes $8 million a day and the money goes toward the 1 percent. It’s a tangible movement — each day you shut down something, it delays things.”
The Occupy movements are being driven largely by young Americans at a time when the unemployment rate among youths under 25 is 18 percent compared to the national rate of 9 percent. In a recent MTV survey of young adults (ages 18 to 29), 72 percent said they were afraid they might not live up to their potential, while nearly three-quarters of people agreed with the statement, “things are unfair for my generation because we have to start our careers during this economic crisis.”
MTV’s special “True Life” episode follows a few supporters who fit that description, including Bryan, a high school grad from Massachusetts who doesn’t see the long-term benefit of attending college when there are few jobs to had post-graduation. When viewers meet him, he’s working to get Zuccotti Park clean after word comes down that the private park’s owners want to temporarily evict the protestors in order to fix up the property themselves. Panic spreads as Occupiers fear the eviction will be permanent. College students Kait and Caitlin, who are so nervous about not being able to find a job that they’ve recruited friends into the rally, are also featured.
MTV’s ’True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street’ airs November 5 at 6 p.m. ET.