MANHATTAN — From Occupy Wall Street demonstrators to revolutionaries rallying throughout the Middle East, "the protester" earned Time magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year” award Wednesday.
The annual accolade, which has been bestowed upon Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and President Barack Obama in recent years, was given to the protester this year in the wake of OWS movements across the nation, as well as historic uprisings in countries such as Egypt and Syria.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, which began in September with dozens of protesters flooding the streets of lower Manhattan, captured international attention after establishing its New York City headquarters in Zuccotti Park.
Daily demonstrations and marches which united the unemployed, union members, war veterans and a range of anti-greed activists spawned similar movements across the country, and put the spotlight on tactics used by authorities to quell the unrest.
“Until late September, 99 percent of New Yorkers had never heard of Zuccotti Park, a privately owned public plaza tucked between the Federal Reserve Bank and the World Trade Center site,” wrote author Kurt Andersen in Time, detailing OWS in the context of the global movement.
“On the last Saturday of the summer — sunny, mid-60s, perfect — a couple thousand people showed up, a hundred slept overnight, and the occupation was on. It seemed as though the world would little note nor long remember it."
The magazine features an interview with OWS protester Chelsea Elliott, who was pepper-sprayed with other demonstrators near Union Square during a march that helped galvanize the movement.
"I'm happy to get maced if it helps the movement," she told Time. "I'd do it again."
Upper Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested during the Novemeber raid of Zuccotti Park by police, is also featured in the magazine.