Published on 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

9 reader comments

  1. Barb says:

    The protesters are making a point of the dissatisfaction of all of us. We may not be able to be there but we do understand.

  2. Anthony Martin says:

    Most Americans are like British. They sit at home (if they’ve got one) and become whiners at the TV and between family members. They’re lazy, defeatist, demoralised and cowardly.
    Like the US, there have been the scum who have gained millions on the back of predatory capitalism and corrupt colluding governance, while the rest of the citizens shuffle for their place on the heirachy of survival. Pitted against each other in the ruthless game of selfishness and me, me, me attitudes.
    Few people in the US like the UK could give a monkeys for the wider fabric of society, nor do they care with foresight for the future of the world with over corporate control & western capitalistic greed and corruption, let alone over population.
    The protest you see now are a microcosm of what to expect. Behind the scenes the US authoritarian dictatorship & the US regime will be spending millions on plans to silence these protests. No different to the pariah states. The Orwellian states have truly manifested.
    The collapse of the West was predictable 40 years ago. A Predatory capitalistic free market inexorably leads to where we are today. It was never rocket science to determine the outcome. The Darwininistic greed and corruption perpetrated by individuals and governments should never come as a surprise. It’s human nature and the selfish gene. Collusive like minded people clubbing together to look out for their own kind like a religious clan. This is what has happened over the last 50 years but, people have walked with their eyes wide shut and turned a blind eye in the hope of personally benefiting from capitalism.
    The protests we see today in Greece, UK, EU, etc. is the start of what will probably lead to civil wars and all as a result of corrupt governance.
    These ‘austerity measures’ we are witnessing today are a form of terrorism perpetrated at the citizens of the US, UK & EU countries. Why hasn’t this terrorism been accorded the same response that Gaddaffi, Saddam, Osama Bin Laden, Radovan, Maladic, etc. received?
    The furture does not bode well all the time wealthy scum are at the helm and control laws.

    1. Ricardo says:

      Utter nonsense! Pure left wing paranoia

  3. Philip says:

    But if you don’t vote for Obama, who? I can’t imagine any Republican candidate being more distant from the bankers. The cost of US presidential elections rules that out.

  4. James Mclean says:

    Every War since 1945 has caused all of this.

    The Politicians controlling France–U.K. and the U.S.A.should be removed from office as they are Warmongers and will surely drag you into another War if they are left in Power.

    As these Political Gangsters are controlled by the World Banks, then their Leaders should be challenged as well

    Until we are Rid of this International Banking System we will always have Wars controlled by them.

  5. William Larmour says:

    So why are these stories on the situation on Wall Street not getting a mention on any of the C4 news programs. After THREE WEEKS, it seems to many that there is a policy of deliberate media blackout on this whole subject…..How far does it have to go before mainstream media news gets shamed into giving this the exposure it truly deserves…It`s laughable that the Amanda Knox saga got coverage over this….or is it intentional???

    1. sue_m says:

      Well now it has spread at last we are getting some coverage here – although notably more on the independent outlets than the government influenced BBC.

      I was interested to read that Julian Assange was asked to remove a mask covering his face. If all the protesters were out wearing burkas would they also be asked to reveal their faces? Or do the police just make the rules up as they go along?

  6. IAS says:

    Good on them ALL!!

    What a shame that British folk are not making the same noise near Parliament.

    It is shameful that politicians, not even the media, are Bold enough to use the words Bankers, Farud and Subprime Mortgages in the News Media here in the UK. Surely, it must be widely accepted that Banks do not run themselves, it is in fact CEO Bankers – individuals who are responsible for bringing down the economy.

    How weak has our political elite made our so-called democracy when they are so eager to arrest and to seek the identity of the criminals rioters, but who remain less interested in arresting CEO bankers for their Fraud and Banking Abuse of Weak Regulataion.

    Maybe politicians are afraid that if they call for an investigation into the Fraud and Abuse of ‘regulation’, they too will have to answer for their failings too. All at the expense of the Dignity of innocent tax-payers, hard working ordinary folk and the most vulnerable in our communities. SHAMEFUL!!

  7. simon says:

    Its hard to believe that this movement generates so much interest in the social media and so little in the mainstream. Am I a paranoid, conspiracy theorist to wonder why this should be?

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