A bunch of people are currently camped out in a park near Wall Street to protest, well, it's not exactly clear what they're protesting. Corporations and stuff? Also, Anonymous is involved. Here's a guide to what's going on.
Who Are They?
On Sunday about 5,000 people marched on Wall Street, but were largely turned back because the NYPD had already closed it down. These people come, basically, from the internet: The Occupy Wall Street idea was first floated months back by the anti-corporate magazine AdBusters—which we were surprised to learn still exists!—but became a big meme when the hacktivist collective Anonymous threw their weight behind it in one of their trademark spooky videos. The protests have been organized through the well-established Anonymous Twitter-sphere, on Facebook pages and in real life by the anarchist group NYC General Assembly.
What Do They Want?
Dude, demands are so corporate. The Occupy Wall Street crowd has no set demands or agenda, and is focused mainly on how big of scumbags banks and politicians are. Statements of participants are vague anti-corporate populism that make the thing sound like the physical embodiment of a Matt Taibbi article. One protestor offered a characteristic take: "CEOs, the biggest corporations, and the wealthy are taking too much from our country and I think it's time for us to take back."
What Are They Doing?
Yoga on the street. Marching and chanting. Coming up with Internet-based signs. Eating free pizza, and talking a lot about what they're doing ("process," it's called in anarchist circles).
Is This Thing Going to Descend Into Exciting Chaos?
Unlikely. The protest has now dwindled to about 200 hardcore members, camping out in a park near Wall Street. They say they'll be there for "a few months" and Bloomerg has said they're welcome to stay there. The protestors disrupted commutes down in the Financial District, and it appears the first arrests were made today, but the NYPD has been uncharacteristically reserved, and unless Bloomberg or the NYPD do something dumb like jamming cell phones (which sparked weeks of disruptive protest in San Francisco), this thing will probably simmer on the edge of the news cycle for a while, churning up hashtags and Reddit frontpage posts.
How do I follow Occupy Wall Street?
You are lazy and/or employed, so you don't have time to just chill in Lower Manhattan for a couple weeks. Luckily there is a livestream, which features some vaguely-accented woman interviewing people about how much corporations suck. There's also an official Twitter hashtag: #occupywallstreet.