(Updates with protester count in fourth paragraph.)
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Wall Street firms are the target of a nonviolent demonstration in which organizers say they want 20,000 people to participate with tents, kitchens and “peaceful barricades” in lower Manhattan.
Dubbed “#OccupyWallStreet,” the goal of the protest is to get President Barack Obama to establish a commission to end “the influence money has over our representatives in Washington,” according to the website of Adbusters, a group promoting the demonstration. Organizers want participants to “occupy” the area for “a few months,” according to the website.
“People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sept. 15 at a press conference. “As long as they do it where other people’s rights are respected, this is the place where people can speak their minds, and that’s what makes New York, New York.”
As the demonstration began this afternoon, as many as 1,000 people congregated in the Chase Manhattan Plaza area and, after speakers with a bullhorn rallied the crowd, broke into groups to discuss the event’s goals. Some participants circulated trays of sliced white and wheat bread while others passed out jars of creamy Skippy peanut butter, and distributed apples, bananas and oranges from shopping carts.
Red Flags, Masks
Protesters waved red flags and toted cardboard signs with statements such as “represent the 99%.” Others donned white, mustachioed masks of the anti-authoritarian protagonist from the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta.” A few people played instruments, including guitars, ukuleles and maracas. Chants and applause periodically erupted around the plaza.
Police encircled the plaza and partitioned Wall Street’s pedestrian walkway.
NYSE Euronext, Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. are among firms with operations in the area. Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Inc. are among financial firms whose main offices aren’t on Wall Street.
Rich Adamonis, a spokesman for the NYSE, Duncan King of Deutsche Bank, and Bank of New York’s Ron Gruendl declined to comment on the demonstration.
Protests also are planned for financial districts in Madrid, Milan, London and Paris, according to a bulletin from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center obtained by Bloomberg News. The NCCIC is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Chris Ortman, an agency spokesman, confirmed the bulletin’s authenticity.
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch and Esmé E. Deprez in New York and Dan Reichl in San Francisco. Editors: William Ahearn, Peter Eichenbaum
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