5 Oct 2011

Wall Street protesters strike a wider chord

It is easy to laugh at many of the protesters who have been camping out close to Wall Street.

There is the Zombie brigade, wandering around all day with ashen face paint, fake blood trickling from their black lips and munching on dollar bills, fake ones like extras from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Someone please give them Pepto Bizmol.

Then there is the girl with fluorescent red hair who seems to be trapped in a never ending anti capitalist trance, or “Sven”, who is very good at balancing a pet cat on his head.

The bankers looking down from their windows on the executive floors at Brown Brothers Harriman, one of New York’s poshest banks may well smirk. But this rolling programme of amateur dramatics is only part of the story. The protesters have no specific aims and they shun the very thought of leadership. But they are dogged and Germanically well organised.

They have divided Zuccoti Park into various areas; the comfort zone for food and rest; the medical center; the communications pod; the open air radio studio. There are briefings every day at 1.30. A team of sweepers is constantly busy with brooms and brushes. And local restaurants are delivering food, sometimes for free. You can even go online and pay for pizza to be delivered to the demonstration. New on the menu: occuPIE.

Needless to say everything they do, think and proclaim here is tweeted, live streamed and blogged about. Even though Main Street America may wince at some of the more outlandish demonstrators here, they agree with the sentiments. This country has been quietly seething at corporate greed and government inertia.

According to one poll this week, a staggering 82 percent believe that government in all its federal incarnations from Capitol Hill to the White House is doing a lousy job. President Obama should take note. We spoke to many demonstrators in Zuccoti Park who voted for him in 2008 and have now turned against the man they believe has become a sell-out to Wall Street.

Meanwhile the bankers, who lavished his campaign with funds three years ago, believe that he is waging class war. On them.

Obama is falling between two stools.

The protests have spread to Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC. They may fizzle over time but the sentiment they have tapped into is here to stay. America may not have another revolution. But they are about to have another election in which anything could happen.

Follow Matt Frei on Twitter: @mattfrei and for more images like the one below, go to the Channel 4 News Occupy Wall Street gallery.

Tweets by @mattfrei