Protesters march to Wall Street during an ACT-UP and Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York, on April 25, 2012.
Protesters march to Wall Street during an ACT-UP and Occupy Wall Street demonstration in New York, on April 25, 2012. Photographer: by John Moore/Getty Images
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators,
whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week
encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the
globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of
power and wealth.
Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a
spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls
for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no
shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona,
London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in
North America, Europe and Asia.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor
organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as
International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square
to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on
Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s
“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of
class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of
resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an
April 26 e-mail.
Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic
disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that
hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives
received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six
months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have
sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The Occupy movement in New York has relied on
demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when
police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in
Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since
Banks have pooled resources and cooperated to gather
intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions
and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an
8 p.m. “radical after-party” in an undetermined Financial
“If the banks anticipate outrage from everyday citizens,
it’s revealing of their own guilt,” said Shane Patrick, a
member of the Occupy Wall Street press team. “If they hadn’t
been participating in maneuvers that sent the economy into the
ditch, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
New York police can handle picketers, according to Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and
responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful
activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” he said in an
About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have
been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a
member of the group’s media-relations team.
Organizers describe the May Day events as a coming together
of the Occupy movement, with activists also calling for more
open immigration laws, expanded labor rights and cheaper
financing for higher education. Financial institutions remain a
primary target of the protests.
“Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of
the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue
to grow in size and risk,” the group’s press office said in an
April 26 e-mail.
Planning Since January
Five banks — JPMorgan Chase Co. (JPM), Bank of America,
Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)
together held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal
to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 43 percent in
2006, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.
Occupy Wall Street began planning for May Day in January,
meeting in churches and union halls with a decision-making
system that avoids a single leader. Instead, participants rely
on group “break-out” sessions in which clusters discuss such
tasks as crowd-building, logistics and communications.
About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich
Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing Textile
Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy
legal and medical help; site selection for picketing;
purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and
how to talk to reporters.
The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where
attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators
asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name
and gender — he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30,
though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the
older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the
presence of a photographer from Tokyo.
Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Park, scheduled
events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area
for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank
Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage
Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing
musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m.,
according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by
a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there
to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for
“evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting
said would be the so-called after-party.
Golden Gate Bridge
Occupy-related events are planned in 115 cities throughout
the U.S., from college towns such as Amherst, Massachusetts, and
Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and
In San Francisco, demonstrators intend to hold a rally at
the toll plaza of the Golden Gate Bridge from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.
local time that “will result in the shutdown,” according to
Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend
morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed
by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.
“We’re looking forward to vigorously asserting our
constitutional right to protest and giving a loud outcry about
Wall Street and greed,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping this will
make a splash. We hope it will bring a lot of more people into
the Occupy movement.”