Occupy Wall Street Draws Star Supporters

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- After having been written off by many when it launched just a few weeks ago, Occupy Wall Street has amassed an increasingly influential set of supporters in recent days, from celebrities to politicians to ice cream makers.

While not all of these supporters are likely to actually march with Occupy Wall Street and its satellite groups day in and day out, their endorsements may just provide the level of credibility and clout needed to have the movement's voices heard by business leaders and legislators inside the beltway.
The Occupy Wall Street movement can count some notable celebrities, politicians and unions as supporters.

Businesses
The movement secured what may be its first corporate supporter -- to use the term loosely -- as the popular ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's released a statement on its Web site this weekend in support of the Wall Street protesters.

"We know that words are relatively easy but we wanted to act quickly to demonstrate our support," the company's board of directors wrote. "We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy."

While Ben & Jerry's may be the most vocal of any major business, it is not the only member of the business community to express some level of support. Last week, the head of BlackRock, an investment management corporation, offered a tepid but still surprising defense of the protestors.

"These are not lazy people sitting around looking for something to do," BlackRock Chief Executive Laurence D. Fink said at an event in Toronto, according to Bloomberg. "We have people losing hope and they're going into the street, whether it's justified or not."

Celebrities
No major protest would be complete without the support of a few big celebrities. Of these, the filmmaker Michael Moore has arguably been the most visible, conducting on-camera interviews at the site of the protests in downtown Manhattan and using his Web site and Twitter accounts to broadcast their cause and his unwavering support of it.

Other celebrities such as actress Susan Sarandon, actor Tim Robbins and the musician Talib Kweli have made appearances at the protest as well. Likewise Alec Baldwin, who is rumored to be considering a run for mayor of New York City down the road, offered the following response on Twitter to a question about his thoughts on the protests:

@stacyherbert: @AlecBaldwin As future Mayor of NYC, any comments on #occupywallstreet? Stiffer penalties for white collar crime!!

Politicians
It should come as little surprise that politicians would take advantage of the movement to promote their own causes and energize their bases, whether in favor of or against Occupy Wall Street. Several influential Democrats have voiced their support, including John Larson, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. Even one Republican candidate for president declared support for the protesters. No, it wasn't Mitt Romney or Rick Perry, but rather Buddy Roemer.

The intellectuals
Many prominent intellectuals have come out in support as well. Cornel West, a philosophy professor at Princeton University with a strong following, spoke in front of thousands at an Occupy Wall Street gathering and went so far as to tell one publication that this movement symbolizes "democracy awakening."

Slavoj Zizek, a philosopher and author, gave his support to the protesters in a speech over the weekend, and the longtime activist and thinker Noam Chomsky issued a passionate endorsement of the protests online, calling them "courageous and honorable." Meanwhile, nearly 300 teachers at Columbia University signed a petition in support of Occupy Wall Street.

The unions
Perhaps the most important, though, are the unions, as they not only bring attention to the cause but also greater numbers of protesters and a wealth of experience in knowing how to organize them. The powerful New York City Transit Union joined forces with Occupy Wall Street at the end of September and has marched with them since. Others such as the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO labor union announced their support of the group, laying the groundwork for a broad coalition of disaffected Americans to share resources, ideas and people.

With all of these endorsements, this may be only the beginning for Occupy Wall Street. As the movement continues, we hope the protesters choose to draw attention to some of the key economic issues affecting average Americans around the country.

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