Wall Street: #Occupied
For the first time since our movement against economic inequality and political corruption began, Occupy Wall Street is literally occupying Wall Street. As of 3am eastern time, over 40 Occupiers are sleeping on Wall Street near the corner of Broad across from the New York Stock Exchange. Everyone angry at the greed of the financial system is encouraged to bring a sleeping bag! Follow on Twitter: #SleepOnWallSt, #SleepfulProtest. Update: Just before 8am Eastern, NYPD arrived with zipties and informed the protesters they had to be out of the way. Occupiers are engaging with stock traders, tourists, workers, and other folks in the financial district and plan to hold an assembly in Liberty Square later.
Background: On March 16, we attempted to peacefully re-occupy Liberty Square (formerly Zucotti Park), the small park just south of Wall Street that had become home to Occupy Wall Street exactly six months earlier. The NYPD had other plans. They attacked us once again. When many homeless Occupiers were left with nowhere to go, many went north to Union Square in midtown Manhattan. Union Square, which has been a central point in popular struggle in New York City for over a century, quickly became a central point for the Occupy movement as well.
As an excuse to arrest and harass Occupiers, the NYPD began enforcing a midnight park closing rule for the first time in history. In response, Occupiers developed a new tactic: Sleeping on sidewalks directly in front of banks. Rather than allowing the NYPD to muddy our message by re-framing the narrative as ¨police versus protesters,¨ we returned to the banks for our real battle: the 99% versus the 1%. The police merely enforce the system; Wall Street is our real enemy.
On April 6, NYPD gathered once again for the nightly ¨eviction theater¨ only to find Occupiers had moved to the sidewalks and erected a sign declaring their legal right to do so. When police moved in arrest them, Occupiers on livestream read the law permitting sleeping on sidewalks as political protest. In Metropolitan v. Safir, the U.S. District Court covering New York City ruled that ¨ the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not allow the City to prevent an orderly political protest from using public sleeping as a means of symbolic expression."
The police backed down. The tactic quickly became a model for other Occupations. Occupy DC can be found sleeping outside of a Bank of America near their old encampment at McPherson Square, while Occupy Philadelphia have taken their message and sleeping bags to Wells Fargo on Chestnut Street, near occupied Independence Mall.
Now, the tactic has been applied to, finally, occupy Wall Street.
These bank protests are part of the latest wave of the spring resurgence of Occupy leading up to a major day of demonstration and a General Strike on May 1st. From the Chicago Spring to recent attempted re-occupations in San Francisco, Minneapolis, and many other places, as long as banks keep taking our homes and receiving massive public bailouts from corrupt governments, we will make our discontent known by making our new homes right in front of them.