Beginning last Saturday, protesters gathered on Wall Street to protest corporate America’s cozy relationship with Washington. Organized by Adbusters and Anonymous, the protest hoped to attract tens of thousands, and be an American version of Egypt’s Tahrir Square protests. How has it worked out?
According to the internet, not too well, but not poorly either.
Protestors Aimed High
Starting with the turnout, it doesn’t seem that Adbusters/Anonymous met their stated (expected?) goal of 20,000 protestors, which might have lent Lower Manhattan a Tahrir-esque air.
Most outlets report that only about 5,000 showed up to the protest, though it’s unclear where that estimate came from. What we do know is that the protestors, however many there were, did not occupy Wall Street, exactly. Instead, they were sequestered to Zucotti Park, a block-long privately-owned park a couple blocks north on Broadway from Wall Street itself. While they were able to march down Wall Street, they are not allowed to live on it.
As the workweek began, the number of protesters dropped to a core group of 200, a mere two degrees of magnitude below the stated goal, reports the New York Times. The NYT reported at least six arrests on Monday, including four arrested for wearing ski masks — an old law from 1845 bans mask-wearing in public by two or more people — and one arrested for “impeding pedestrian traffic.” As for the sixth, who knows, though there are reports that people were arrested for writing in chalk on the sidewalk. The charge: vandalism.
The weather took a turn for the worse here in New York City on Tuesday, and this led to more arrests, reports New York Magazine. Two protestors were arrested for making a “tent” — not allowed under local law — out of a tarp. The protestors argued that they were protecting expensive equipment from the rain, and were summarily arrested — one of them suffering an asthma attack in the process.
They Their Money Where Their Mouth Is
Business Insider took a more interactive approach to the protestors, sending a reporter down to Wall Street to ask them how they manage their personal finances. Turns out, the protestors are the real deal, and they do not use large commercial banks for their savings — many of them claim to not have any money anyway. If Business Insider was trying to play a gotcha game with the protestors, they lost.
The protestors claim that they will continue for a long time, which will get grueling as New York transitions into winter. This raises the question: would this protest not have been more effective had it been planned in the summer? There would be more students with nothing else to do, and a looming sense of dread, who might want to make the trip to New York to protest those responsible for the economy they will graduate into. And the weather would have been fantastic! Hurricane Irene aside, this summer was mild.
But instead it was planned for September, when everyone has something to do.