‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement Grows

The economic distress caused by out-of-control Wall Street greed finally has prompted a dramatic public response in the form of protesters occupying a park in the Financial District of New York City. Slowly, the movement has attracted broader support, reports Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

There was a rumor on Friday that the band Radiohead would be dropping by the #Occupy Wall Street encampment. They had just been on “The Colbert Report” and their fan base is huge among the very demographic of younger people drawn to the protests now beginning their third week.

Occupy Wall Street Poster

And so more people came than organizers expected. Loads of people!  Except, alas, for Radio Head. The band had reportedly called to express support that led some to conclude that they were on the way.

This demonstrates again the power of celebrity to draw a crowd. What did impress the activists in Zuccotti Park in the Financial District is that the Radiohead fans actually stuck around and took part in the activities and a march that went north to Police Headquarters protesting the pepper-spraying of activists.

That police action against #Occupy Wall Street protesters had the other unintended consequence of persuading the news media, which had convinced itself that this growing assembly was not worth covering, to cover it.

Soon, thanks to research by the mysterious “Anonymous,” activists were able to identify the police commander responsible for using a chemical weapon against female protesters.

His name is Anthony Bologna, and soon his email was hacked and his record of alleged earlier abuse incidents was publicized, apparently along with his online porn collection.

Then, Jon Stewart stepped in Thursday with a report on the cop he called “TONY BALONEY,” ridiculing him and the police force.

Perhaps, that is why the NYPD was more restrained Friday night and backed down with threatened arrests of a group of activist bicyclists called Critical Mass, that had shown up to show solidarity.

When it was announced at a nightly meeting (called the “General Assembly”) that the bikers were at risk, hundreds of activists rushed out to show some solidarity to them and, then, there were no arrests.

Perhaps this incident was evidence of a sign I saw reading “The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

#Occupy Wall Street has yet to attract the 20,000 militants they had hoped for but it’s growing and, more importantly, retaining its sense of community, non-violence, and sense of a tolerant community. It is a decentralized.

Most important is that similar actions are already taking place in other cities like a march on Friday in Boston against the Bank of America. An even bigger one is being planned for Washington in October.

Other organizations are supporting this emerging movement. Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union say they “applaud the courage of the young people on Wall Street” and are planning to turn out their members next week.

I saw tee-shirts of UAW members and met some activists from the Salvadorian community. Already #Occupy Wall Street sent over a hundred people to back a protest by postal workers trying to save their jobs and the Post Office.

The longer this lasts, and is allowed to last, the more it is likely to grow.

Already intellectuals and writers like Chris Hedges are praising the protesters as “the best among us” and are imploring the rest of us to get involved:

“There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history.

“Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler.”

Veteran activist Carl Davidson writes:

“Young rebels often manifest a moral clarity that awakens and prods the rest of us. Through their direct actions, they become a critical force, holding up a mirror for an entire society to take a look at itself, what it has come to, and what choices lay before it.

“The historic example is the four young African American students that sat at a lunch counter and ordered a cup of coffee in Greensboro, North Carolina back in 1960. The Wall Street protests are thus a clarion call to the trade unions and everyone concerned with economic and social justice.”

This weekend, Occupy Wall Street is promising to make an assessment of it strengths and weaknesses and to begin a debate about next steps.

The last two weeks have been a tremendous learning experience for the activists who even doubted their staying power. Now their non-organization has organized with a food committee, media center, sanitation department and task force to encourage more debate.

David Degraw of AmpedStatus.com that pushed for the protests sees the movement defining itself. He told me on my weekly News Dissector Radio Show on Progressive Radio Network that he expects more clarity to emerge from a debate that’s already underway.

He writes, “As the occupation of Wall Street moves into its third week, there are many questions about the organizers behind the ongoing protests and the origins of the 99% Movement.”

He has encountered resistance from parties unknown to his efforts to encourage a debate.

“As AmpedStatus was pushing for a decentralized global rebellion against Wall Street and actively supporting the Egyptian uprising against the IMF and Federal Reserve, the attacks on the site escalated. In what appeared to be a fatal blow, the entire ISP network that the AmpedStatus.com site was hosted on was knocked offline, hundreds of sites were also affected and the AmpedStatus.com web hosting provider said that they would no longer be able to host the site unless it was moved to a service that was significantly more than we were paying or could afford.

“With a very limited budget, and in complete desperation, AmpedStatus put out a call for help.”

The computer whiz Anonymous stepped in and helped the site recover. It is now on the leading edge of the movement. Other sites like Livestream carry the events around the clock the way Al Jazeera reported on the uprising in Egypt. #OccupyWallStreet disseminates tweets around the clock

Many in the media wrote off the young people in Egypt, and proved to be as out of touch as much of the American media is today. As Bob Dylan sang decades ago to a reporter from Time Magazine, “There’s something happening and you don’t know what it us, do you”

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs about the protests on News Dissector.com. His latest film, Plunder The Crime of Our Time” called for protests against financial crime. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected].

21 comments for “‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement Grows

  1. Linda Roehrig
    October 11, 2011 at 13:38

    I see fear as the driving force in the passionate, almost rabid, replies to rational, well thought out “liberal” observations here. Fear that Obama will turn the USA into a socialistic, even communistic state.

    A security guard at the school where I work has bet me that the USA will turn communist within the next four years if Obama gets his way. Whoa! you say where are people getting this type of information?

    My brother in Florida forwards me “conservative” literature via email. He only sends what he believes are the most compelling and truthful. Recently he sent me a list of 9 crucial errors in the new Health Bill, HR3200. The information had been created by a judge in Texas, and he quoted specific sections and lines that supported his interpretations of the bill. I looked up each one, and I won’t go through them all here, but each and every one had no connection I could find, to the alledged discrepancy.

    For example, the first reference referred to avoiding discrimination based upon the appearance of medical patients. To me this means no matter what you look like, or smell like, your medical needs will be met. The judge said that this section would guarantee illegal aliens free medical treatment in the USA. Huh? I read the pages leading up to his citation, the actual page, and the pages following it and could not find any language that related to aliens, illegal or extra-terrestrial (little joke there).

    My point is this, there’s a lot of misinformation being funneled to our citizens. And, I only receive it when my brother forwards me a copy. So, this mis-information is being forwarded to people, I believe, to instill fear and to breed hate, thus dividing our nation.

    We need to seek out this information, its sources, and make them prove their lies. And, it’s not just political…

    The same type people insinuate in a recent commercial that sugar and corn syrup are the same to our bodies, when it is high-fructose corn syrup that is the problem. But how many consumers differentiate between plain corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup? I think HF corn syrup advertisers are counting on the American public to be illiterate when it comes down to it. Uh-uh, it’s just that high fructose corn syrup is cheaper to make, and guess what? type 2 diabetes has been on the rise since its’ introduction and now higher consumption.

    Who stands to gain from this? Be skeptical, look it up yourself, get help, that’s not being elite-ist, that’s being smart and looking out for yourself.

  2. bobzz
    October 3, 2011 at 10:07

    Sure, some people would live off the government; however, the vast majority want to work. People like Zippity always inflate the number of the shiftless n’er-do-wells in their own minds to justify helping no one. Every dollar of aid comes directly out of their back pockets. You may not be aware of reality, but there are huge numbers of people out of work these days looking for jobs that do not exist. The jobs they can find will not pay off their loans until decades have passed. (By the way that will cripple the economy too) HIgher education has its problems, but they do educate. The rats are so by their own free choice, which brings up a question. You speak of loss of freedoms, what freedoms have you lost? Libertarians talk about the loss of freedoms. The only losses I see are the illegal wire taps, the clamping down on whistle blowers, ridiculous searches at airports caused by a phenomenally stupid foreign policy that makes our own enemies (credit to Ron Paul libertarians that want to end the wars). You can still vote; you can still bear arms (I have an idea that’s a biggie for you). I am interested in what freedoms you have lost. You are living in the 50s, the age of glory for white males.

  3. Dennis
    October 2, 2011 at 10:01

    Greedy Unions are not the problem. Without the unions we would not have a middle class today! People wake up your jobs are being given to China. Just look at everything you buy 95% of it is made in China. Their economy is expanding and our is declining. The GREEDY Corporations make more profit when they have China labor for next to nothing. WAKE UP AND JOIN THE MOVEMENT!!

  4. Paul
    October 1, 2011 at 23:15

    How do I join to expand it accross the Nation. We need to take control of our contry, its not just Rep and Demo its the people who need to be heard, Stop kicking people out of thier homes when the goverment cant even help make jobs, Tax imports from countries that still our jobs..Tax coporations that move out of the US or take jobs outside of our country…Get rid of the FED…stop providing money and excuses for banks and wall stret! Lets expand the movement to every major city in every community in every state

  5. Ed Rude
    October 1, 2011 at 21:57

    The core value of investment vehicles, such as banks, Stock exchanges commodity exchanges and futures exchanges is that they supply the necessary capital to create jobs produce goods and services and pay the bulk of the taxes received by our government.

    We would all be poor, broke and unable to gain the rudiments of life without these workers.

    The worker is worthy of pay, says the New Testament in four places, and that means even those lousy captains of capital are worthy of their pay.

    It is the height of stupidity and economic ignorance to protest against the existence of these valuable resources.

    Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin would be proud of deluding the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters into thinking they were doing something valuable.

    • Vthestate
      October 2, 2011 at 02:38

      A disconnect between original intent and function of the market has developed. An honest reevaluation is appointed. Our form of government
      offers protest as a for of awareness raising and in these times of corporate media ownership the current “occupy wall st” national think tank has valid axes to grind. Join, Argue, debate, suggest, think , discuss it’s all good and in the public interest. we have been isolating, quiet, complacent too long. This is different than breaking stuff….this is causing your point of view to be heard.

  6. chmoore
    October 1, 2011 at 18:15

    And can you imagine it? The Koch Bros. are NOT going to be providing refreshments? I’m shocked, I tell you!

  7. philthymcnasty
    October 1, 2011 at 17:48

    How can anyone not be upset at wallstreet? giving bonuses to ceos after taking bailout money. Rewarding incompetent planning with taxpayer money. Have we forgotten that in the global economy, the strong, well organized business will destroy the weak ones. Bailing out a weak bank will only make us loose our money in the end as the bank will be crushed by a foreign company, like what is happening to our manufacturing industries. It is the higher levels of corporate command with their bad decisions that have put us in this mess. When they outsourced in china, they failed to realize that they were enabling competition from overseas when these companies go into business for themselves. That is why the Chinese company lenevo is beginning to out sell hp and dell. that is why phillips will soon have competition in the tv market. The 1% failed to realize that their power was enabled by the 99%. They were given privilege for good choices that helped both themselves and those around them. Now that they are making bad finical moves, they cannot expect the people they hurt to bail them out. They must be allowed to fail for the free market to succeed. They have only themselves to blame.

    • Jerry
      October 1, 2011 at 21:51

      Thank you, well said.

    • Paul
      October 1, 2011 at 23:20

      Greed is the only thing they can claim….give back the money to main street, stop kicking people out of thier homes, if you cant make jobs then you should be forcing families to become homeless

  8. Shawn
    October 1, 2011 at 15:11


    • Paul
      October 1, 2011 at 23:18

      Yes…let our voices be heard…let our minds expand and let us live a free life

  9. Ronald Reagan
    October 1, 2011 at 15:02

    You obviously have a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire Economic situation at hand…but how do you have the audicity to blame the regular American looking to fulfill the American Dream and buy a home when the BANKER PROMISES he can get him/her approved? Do you work in Finance? Have you ever tried to get someone approved for a loan? I’d wager you haven’t a clue as to how loans work otherwise you wouldn’t be making such ignorant statements…somehow the uneducated poor convinced the greedy bankers to hand out loans?? Wake up and realize if you vote Republican you’re voting against your own interests unless you’re filthy rich…that is reality not what you see on Fox News or hear on Rush Limbaugh…get out of the house and experience what life is like out there….

  10. October 1, 2011 at 13:35

    What about the greed of unions? And the greed of people who make a life out of living on welfare? What about the greed of politicians who poor money into programs that don’t work? There is plenty of greed and corruption to go around, the Wall Street protest is just a part of the communist playbook.

    • nunez
      October 1, 2011 at 21:06

      Frank Worley,
      Your unsupported cliches read like a carbon copy from the right wing script given to right wing politicians to mouth at people who cannot think with their brains but rather with their colons. Your words are filled with the kind of slang that is belched by a human hog (Pignoramus intolerabilis) with an auditory memory which he transcribes into written words. Frank, yours is the kind of post that must make you feel proud of accomplishing the feat of a parrot who has been in a room with Rush Limbaugh a bit too long.

      • Jerry
        October 1, 2011 at 21:48

        Typical liberal rant, finger pointing, intolerance, transfer of blame, and name calling, but not willing to offer up an alternative solution or a hint of spirit of cooperation to solve the problem at hand.

        • asdfasdfe
          October 2, 2011 at 00:52

          there was nothing typical about that rant but i feel nauseous after reading it… you both need to grow up

      • paula
        October 5, 2011 at 08:15

        I am just a simple person that went to war for all of us even if you or others are in left field. Our government just poofed 400 billion friggin dollars to bail out europe but it can not sustain its own borders. Hmmmmm. What about the greedy unions and people that cant afford to get off welfare. At least we have the ability to take care of our own. What do you want? those greedy people to starve? If you do, you are insane…

    • ben darling
      October 1, 2011 at 22:06

      sorry i can’t be there. Planted a mail box this afternoon in solidarity with the postal union. Guess you must be in favor of cheap labor and not having a middle class.

    • TheAZCowBoy
      October 2, 2011 at 02:24

      Prosperous Israel has no problem collecting a welfare/warfare check from the US Tax-payer each year for $3b – “So why are you picking ‘on the little people – Pilgrim?”

      “Greed of the Unions?” Hey, greedy businesses need greedy unions to ‘keep thm in check!’

      Communist playbook?!!! Hey, someone, bring this man his prozac meds…..

    • bobzz
      October 3, 2011 at 09:33

      Sorry to be late with a reply to Mr. Worley. Let’s say the unions are greedy. Did they cause the loss of trillions of dollars to the world economy? No, that would be the big bankers. Did they throw millions out of their homes in the US? No, that would be big bankers. Did they cause the loss of millions of jobs in the US that will never come back? No, that was big bankers. Who cleared the path for the big bankers to become the big thieves and frauds? That would be Republicans like Rubin and Greenspan who convinced Bill Clinton to repeal Glass-Stegall, which has protected the middle class since the depression. Who watered down banking reforms, so that it will happen again? The Republicans. The mostly young people who are demonstrating are university graduates (you know, Frank, the ones that prepared themselves for good paying jobs) who are now thousands of dollars in debt and cannot find a job. And who has trillions hoarded in off shore havens? The big banks and corporations—certainly not the unions. The unions had nothing to do with any of this. To deny this by writing it off as part of a communist playbook is like trying to cover the sky with your hands.

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