The first time I read about the Occupy Wall Street protests was on Twitter. Protesters have been demonstrating around Wall Street and other financial centers for more than a month now.

When the protests began they were largely ignored by mainstream media. The protests cover many economic and political issues, including foreclosures, the banking system, high unemployment, poverty and war, to name a few.

The first time I read about the Occupy Wall Street protests was on Twitter. Protesters have been demonstrating around Wall Street and other financial centers for more than a month now.

When the protests began they were largely ignored by mainstream media. The protests cover many economic and political issues, including foreclosures, the banking system, high unemployment, poverty and war, to name a few.

The movement spread around the country and is connected to grassroots demonstrations around the globe. Even though protesters have several messages, there is one central theme and it is based on the idea that the richest 1 percent of the population controls a disproportionate share of the wealth and political power.

Wall Street is the center of that wealth and power, and the money flows from corporations into the political system.

I joined protesters in downtown Minneapolis last weekend so that I could see it for myself and talk with some of them. They call themselves the "99 percent" and they now occupy the Hennepin County government plaza in Minneapolis and have been there for almost two weeks.

Protesters have renamed the area the "People’s Plaza" and they occupy it around the clock. They don’t have any demands, other than to be heard.

Instead of carrying a sign, I carried a camera. I don’t think that I could make a sign big enough to express my feelings about the economy, and the plaza is already plastered with signs. I found myself agreeing with some and disagreeing with others. The recession never really ended for my family or my neighbors.

The protesters are a diverse group and they do not agree on all of the issues, but they all agree that the economy needs to improve and that we need more jobs. Many are protesting the wars and the amount of money being spent on them. The idea of corporate greed is also a central theme.

There were chants of "banks got bailed out and we got sold out," and signs that read, "People before profits," and "This is What Democracy Looks Like," and "We are the 99 percent and we will be heard." There were signs protesting children in poverty, and protesting war, corporate greed and the cost of health insurance.

Some of the protesters have been through foreclosures and some are unemployed. Some do not have health insurance and some seemed to be teaching their children about freedom of speech and how to make signs.

There were recent college grads who are deep in dept and trying to find jobs. There were veterans of several wars marching for peace.

The protests in this area are generally peaceful, but there was an arrest over the weekend because protesters decided to test the sheriff by pitching some tents when they were told that tents are not allowed on the plaza.

Hundreds of protestors have been arrested in various U.S. cities in recent days, sometimes for protesting or for littering and others for trespassing and fighting with law enforcement officers. In some parts of the world, similar protests have resulted in riots.

It is unlikely that protesters in Minnesota will be able to sleep outside in the winter without shelter, and I hope they don’t die trying.

The 99 percent are being heard around the world, and politicians are slowly starting to take notice. The news media can no longer ignore the protests, and even if they did people can still watch the live video and read about it on Twitter. Protestors are also taking donations in support of their cause.

Use Google to learn more about the protests and what is going on in your own area. The "Occupy" movement continues to grow rapidly and it doesn’t look like it is going to go away soon.

Protest sign in downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Teresa Boardman. Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Protesters in downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Teresa Boardman. Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Protesters in downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Teresa Boardman. Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Protesters in downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Teresa Boardman. Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

 

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