Bloomberg News

Occupy Wall Street Celebrates First Year With ‘Carnival’

September 17, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Celebrates First Year With ’Roving Carnival’

Occupy groups across the U.S. coalesced last year to protest high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. Photographer: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that sparked a global revolt against economic inequality, plans to celebrate its one-year anniversary today with a “roving carnival of resistance.”

The schedule includes “nonviolent civil disobedience” beginning near the New York Stock Exchange at 7 a.m. local time, a rally at Bowling Green and marches around the city’s downtown as night falls, according to planning materials. Events are planned in at least 15 other cities, including Asheville, North Carolina, and Hilo, Hawaii.

“Occupy Wall Street won’t stop until the 99 percent gets what it deserves -- economic justice,” organizers said in an e- mailed statement. Protesters say the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans benefit at the expense of the rest.

Organizers of the movement, which began one year ago in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, are seeking to revive the energy and emotion generated when thousands took to the streets to protest income disparity, corporate greed and the influence of money on politics.

Occupiers began gathering over the weekend to kick off the protests and continue planning today's events.

Some assembled Sept. 15 at Washington Square for a march to Zuccotti Park, the symbolic and physical heart of last year's movement. Yesterday, there was a concert by Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Das Racist and others, said Linnea Palmer-Paton, a 24-year-old organizer, in a telephone interview.

Police made about 50 arrests during the weekend, said Susan Howard, coordinator for the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which supports the protest.

Year Later

The anniversary marks a test of the brand after its public presence all but vanished amid what organizers called flagging interest bordering on burnout.

The movement’s New York City General Assembly, which made decisions for the group by consensus, ceased functioning in April because of infighting, ineffectiveness and low turnout, according to organizers and minutes of meetings. The group’s funds were frozen to preserve money for bail, ending most cash distributions, they said.

Occupy units across the U.S. coalesced last year to protest high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. Similar groups, using social media and other tools, spread around the globe to Europe, Asia and Latin America. Governments responded with concussion grenades, gas, riot gear, pepper spray and arrests.

West Coast

Outside New York, demonstrators plan to gather in San Francisco’s Financial District beginning at 1 p.m. local time, before converging at 555 California St., the skyscraper housing offices of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US), Bank of America Corp. (BAC:US) and Morgan Stanley. (MS:US) In Oakland, site of some of the most violent clashes between protesters and police, the local Occupy chapter announced it will celebrate next month.

Occupy Wall Street’s last major public event was on May 1, when demonstrators took to the streets across the U.S., sending a singing “Guitarmy” to Manhattan’s Union Square, smashing windows in Seattle and seizing a vacant building in San Francisco.

Organizers said the events marked a springtime resurgence of the movement, and protesters punctuated their message with trombones, hand-held drums, a San Francisco kayak flotilla and a crowd a half-mile long moving down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Calls for a global general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping were heard in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney.

To contact the reporter on this story: Esme E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net


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