Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

October 1, 2011


One of the more intriguing aspects of New York City is the confluence, and at times, confrontation of different ideas and individuals that occur on a daily basis. Today I found myself observing and photographing this phenomenon in lower Manhattan, which has been the staging point for the protests staged by Occupy Wall Street for the past two weeks. 

Zuccotti Park has become the center of what is now a multi-city protest movement led by people with differing demands. At points I saw those arguing for the wholesale redistribution, an increase in the highest tax rates, the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service, and/or the abolition of capital punishment. The organizers have created a broadsheet, and are providing entertainment for the assembled, of varying quality. 

One of the chief themes of today’s protests was a denunciation of the mistreatment activists feel they’ve experienced at the hands of the New York Police Department, although I did notice signs expressing sympathy for the rank and file of the NYPD at other points in the afternoon. 

The lack of media coverage of Occupy Wall Street-at least during the first week of the protests-was a recurring theme.

Recently, some large local labor unions have come on board, and I did notice members of SEIU-1199 and the Professional Staff Congress-one of the chief foes of Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget reforms in the past-as well as other politically influential unions milling around throughout the day. Interestingly, a member of the Working Families Party was critical of Occupy Wall Street’s overall strategy, faulting it for what he saw as its lack of concrete policy prescriptions and unfocused political mobilization.

One of the most puzzling encounters I had occurred when I spoke with someone from WikiLeaks, which had a van stationed across the street from Zuccotti Park throughout the day. I asked him why an organization ostensibly devoted to disclosing classified information, especially from government institutions, e.g. diplomatic cables, enjoined legal documents, etc., would be at a public demonstration. His response was that he was there to “support” the people behind Occupy Wall Street. He then proceeded to decry the “hierarchical bullshit” at play among certain members of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Take from that what you will. 

Believe it or not, this was the badge the WikiLeaks employee (volunteer?) used in order to enter the park. Although I’m by no means a paleontologist, and this is purely speculation on my part, I doubt that dinosaurs sounded like lions if/when they were angry. Still, pretty amusing nonetheless. 

The Mesozoic Era was to make another surprise appearance  later in the day.

Even though there were some common points of agreement I could identify, e.g. an opposition to corporations and corporate welfare-a point upon which they and the Ron Paul supporters you’ll see tomorrow would agree-there were so many other political causes being championed that it was difficult to single out a single agenda item that took priority over others. There were also outliers; tracts and people I didn’t expect to see represented. This poster seems to be a strange amalgam of traditional paleoconservative views and conspiracy theories relating to President Obama’s birth. 

And speaking of conspiracies, there was even an Alex Jones fan in the crowd.

As well as people representing a more mainstream perspective. In this case, a man who is a Chinese dissident and was there to call to account the repressive Chinese regime. Unfortunately, he did not speak English and I was unable to ask him to elaborate. 

The spectrum ranged all the way from committed Bolsheviks: 

To avowed socialists: 

To progressive Democrats. 

There were people disenchanted with the health care system: 

And there was an abundance of signs, as this sign points out: 

Some boastful, 

Some used clever wordplay: 

And some were crafted by people who are utterly oblivious to Godwin’s Law.

There was an interesting dichotomy to how Barack Obama was viewed among those gathered at Zuccotti Park yesterday. While some had obviously become disenchanted with the President, 

Others continued to support his political platform:

Towards the end of the day, the protesters decided to march from the park across the Brooklyn Bridge.  

Tomorrow, Ron Paul gets his due, and some of the more lighthearted photos I didn’t include in this photo-essay.

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One Response to Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

  1. Anthony on October 2, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    I don’t understand why these job-seekers are still there: haven’t they handed out all their résumés yet? Anyway, I hope they are looking around the amazing city in which they are protesting and noticing all the free market monuments around them. Nah: they’d have to look up from their iPads to do that. Dinosaur says “ROOOOOOAAAAARRRRR!”

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