Wall Street Protesters In It For The Long Haul

Oct 2, 2011
Originally published on October 2, 2011 7:55 am

A protest in New York dubbed "Occupy Wall Street" appears to be settling in for the long term. Twice a day, protesters leave the tents, makeshift kitchen and free bookstore set up in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan and begin a slow march down the sidewalk.

Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of supporters are showing up for marches each day. A protest on the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday resulted in about 700 arrests. Another major demonstration is set for mid-week as union members join protesters.

Pick just about any cause, including the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia in September, and it's likely represented here. The primary focus is on corporations, the wealthy and income distribution.

The objective, as protester Mike Luciano from Pennsylvania puts it, is "taking the big cats down, bringing down Wall Street, changing how the government works and the dirty deals are done."

Luciano says he belongs to a union. Given recent reports that local organized labor is starting to get behind the protest, he expected to see more fellow union members.

Next Wednesday afternoon, several unions are planning a march from City Hall to the protest site. That day there likely will be only one march.

"We have been in the past doing two — one at 9 and one at 4 ... for the opening and closing bells," says Victoria Sobel, a college student at Cooper Union and a protest organizer. "I believe we are moving toward one march a day to have a bigger march."

That does not mean this protest is winding down. Sobel says organizers hope to improve infrastructure for the estimated 200 to 300 people who are living at the protest site so they can stay here for months. There's a makeshift kitchen already set up, but few options for bathrooms.

Despite organizers' intentions, the big question is how long the city will let the protesters occupy the park. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not yet answered that question definitively.

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AUDIE CORNISH, Host:

Police in New York arrested some 700 people yesterday in the Occupy Wall Street protest after hundreds of demonstrators swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge. The group has been demonstrating over economic inequality and corporate malfeasance. They're headed into a third week of marches through Lower Manhattan with union members set to join mid-week. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.

JEFF BRADY: Twice a day, protesters leave the tents, makeshift kitchen and free bookstore set up in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan and begin a slow march down the sidewalk.

CROWD: (Chanting) We are all Troy Davis. We are all Troy Davis. We are all Troy Davis.

BRADY: Pick just about any cause, including the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last month, and it's likely represented here. But the primary focus is on corporations, the wealthy and income distribution.

MIKE LUCIANO: Taking the big cats down, bringing down Wall Street, changing how the government works, the dirty deals.

BRADY: Mike Luciano lives near Erie, Pennsylvania.

LUCIANO: Drove all night. I got in the car at midnight; showed up here at seven in the morning before everybody woke up.

BRADY: Luciano says he belongs to a union. Given recent reports that local organized labor is starting to get behind the protest, he expected to see more fellow union members here.

LUCIANO: I wish I had seen a lot more. I think I've seen three or four.

BRADY: Next Wednesday afternoon, several unions are planning to march from City Hall to the protest site. That day, there likely will be only one march. Victoria Sobel is a college student at Cooper Union and a protest organizer.

VICTORIA SOBEL: We have in the past been doing two - one at nine and one at four - so, for the opening and closing bells. I believe we are moving towards a one march a day, to have a bigger march.

BRADY: That does not mean this protest is winding down. Sobel says organizers hope to improve infrastructure for the estimated 200 to 300 people who are living at the protest site so they can stay here for months. There's a makeshift kitchen already set up, but few options for bathrooms. Despite organizers' intentions, the big question is how long the city will let the protesters occupy the park. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not yet answered that question definitively. Jeff Brady, NPR News, New York.

CROWD: (Singing) We are the change. We are the rising sun. We are the ones we've been waiting for...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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