Occupy’s legacy in student loan debt, campaign corruption and economic mobility.

September 10, 2013

99% 99 percent occupy wallstreet protest social activism

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators assemble at One Police Plaza, headquarters of the New York City Police Department, on September 30, 2011. (Photo: Stan Honda/Getty)

“You can’t evict an idea!”

That’s what many Occupy protesters across the country shouted during the police incursions that cleared city squares and streets of their encampments. And it’s holding true.

Two years after Occupy Wall Street laid camp at Zuccotti Park, the sleeping bags and bullhorns are long gone. But political activists are still holding up the tent poles of the movement that inspired protests around the world.

In New York on Thursday, student debt and financial issues in politics were at the heart of a panel moderated by author and social critic Naomi Wolf. The discussion followed a screening of 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film.

The movie dug up clips of cable news anchors all but rolling their eyes at the Occupy movement, which was often painted as extreme and radical.

But what the movement seeks to preserve is fundamental to the American Dream, activists said.

“What was the mainstream is not available to the mainstream anymore, and we want that back,” said Iris Maria Chavez, an assistant field director with the Education Trust.

Improving lives with education, home ownership and jobs are all themes that have been central to the Occupy movement, because the movement cares about social mobility, Chavez said.