Occupy Wall Street mask in Paris demonstration by stanjourdan-ccAfter an online poll and months of reporting on the most influencial news throughout the year, TIME magazine today named “The Protester” as its 2011 Person of the Year.

“No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor in a town barely on a map set himself on fire in a public square, it would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain,” wrote Time editor Rick Stengel.

“That spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy.”

“Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they’d had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets.”

”They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering.”

“For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME’s 2011 Person of the Year.”

The December 26, 2011 Person of the Year issue of TIME goes on sale on Friday, December 16.

(READ more of “The Protestor” issue at Time.com)

Photo by by stan jourdan-cc- flickr

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