News / Economy

    'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters in NYC Decry Corruption, Greed

    Nathan Hendrix of Austin, Texas, lies on a mattress in Zuccotti Park during a demonstration by the Occupy Wall Street campaign near the financial district of New York, September 29, 2011.
    Nathan Hendrix of Austin, Texas, lies on a mattress in Zuccotti Park during a demonstration by the Occupy Wall Street campaign near the financial district of New York, September 29, 2011.
    Carolyn Weaver

    Since mid-September, several hundred protesters have been camped out on a plaza in the heart of New York’s financial district. They call their leaderless movement "Occupy Wall Street" and they are opposed to what they say is a government controlled by corporate money and the growing income gap between the very wealthy and the rest of America.

    The office workers and construction crews who lunch in Zuccotti Park on weekdays have had to make way for the colorful, messy encampment. They step around the home-made signs arrayed along the plaza making the demonstrators’ anti-corporate case: "Capitalism is a Violent Monopoly!" and "There Is No Economy on a Dead Planet - End Corporate Ecocide."

    Community organizer Naif Littles spelled out the basic agenda.

    "We need to stop these huge corporations, particularly the big banks on Wall Street, from controlling our members of Congress," he said. "The top 400 richest Americans have more wealth than 150 million Americans combined."

    Most of the protesters appear to be in their 20s. Some say they have huge college debts, but can’t find jobs. Julien Harrison has a master’s degree, $50,000 in student debt, and wants to be a teacher. He’s been able to find only manual labor.

    "Of course, they’re laying off teachers all over the country," he said.  "It’s getting more and more competitive. I just came from Portland. There’s people with Ph.Ds, masters, undergraduate degrees competing to be a barista at a coffee shop."

    So, he’s a fulltime protester, for now. The demonstrators have made themselves at home, setting up a first-aid station staffed by an emergency medical technician, a haphazard library along one wall of the plaza, and a "kitchen," where donated meals - mostly pizza - are distributed. Some have even brought in armchairs, and queen-size mattresses. Others nap on the cement.

    Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons was the most recent celebrity visitor to offer support. Actress Susan Sarandon and filmmaker activist Michael Moore also have stopped by.

    "I’m here in solidarity to all the people who are protesting the money-grab and the fierce class warfare that’s been waged on the poor and under-served," Simmons told the crowd. His listeners recited his words back to him, using what the group calls a "human mic" to amplify the sound, since megaphones are not permitted in the park.

    New Yorkers and tourists at Zuccotti Park have varied reactions to the ragtag incursion. Richard Oranger, who said he worked in insurance, expressed contempt.

    "Lazy bum Marxist freeloaders," he said. "Their sign right there saying capitalism doesn’t work? Oh yeah, it doesn’t work?" He gestures sarcastically at the skyscrapers above. "Capitalism built this city up!"

    Retired social worker Diane Lloyd wholly approved.

    "I’m extremely angry," she said. "In my opinion most of the problems, the economic problems were caused knowingly by financiers. They are making tons of money after hurting tons of people, and Main Street is suffering."

    "I think it’s very true," agreed Anne Glass, a tourist from Ireland. "It’s the same all over the world. Same in Ireland. Greedy people, that’s all it is."

    College student Fadil Palgevic jeered.

    "They should go home and stop wasting time," he said. "There’s no point in this. It’s not like they’re going to get jobs like this anyway. They’re not even looking. They’re just repeating each other."

    The protest began with a call in July by a group called Adbusters, but has no formal organization. Protesters meet each day to discuss strategies and goals. Everyone has an equal voice. The demonstrators also assemble for rallies in support of workers and other causes, and for frequent marches on Wall Street.

    "We are the 99 percent," they chant. And "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!"

    New York police are with them wherever they go. During a march on September 24, police arrested about 80 people, and used what several onlookers said was undue force. One high-ranking officer, a deputy inspector, sprayed pepper spray in the faces of several demonstrators, including a group of women who had been fenced in by police netting. A police spokesman said the department is investigating the incidents.

    There has been no violence since then, and protestors make a point of thanking the police and chanting "professionalism, courtesy, respect!" as they set out on their marches.

    Some critics say that "Occupy Wall Street" is too unfocused to gain traction. Supporters reply that it is an exercise in direct democracy - and that their aims are coherent. They say they will keep their demonstration going even into the winter months. Several other New York community groups and several labor unions have announced they will join in the rallies, and meet in Washington for a similar protest being planned a few blocks from the White House.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8812
    JPY
    USD
    112.18
    GBP
    USD
    0.6939
    CAD
    USD
    1.3961
    INR
    USD
    68.436

    Rates may not be current.