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October 1, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
but you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones? (Bob Dylan’s “Ballad Of A Thin Man”)

Have you noticed what’s happening on Wall Street? No, I don’t mean that the stock market is doing what it usually does--making a few people richer and a lot more people poorer. No, Wall Street is filled with protestors.

Well, not exactly filled with protestors, some reports put the numbers at 1500 to 3000, not really a big protest as far as New York City is concerned, but it began September 17th and has continued ever since.

In the beginning New Yorkers did what they usually do and ignored the protestors. Wall Street Bankers, Hedge Fund Managers money makers all wearing $3000 suits and $1000 shoes looked down from their skyscraper aeries at the ant sized figures peacefully strolling back and forth and chuckled at their insignificance. New York’s political class ignored them and arguably the finest police force in the world was satisfied to stroll in their midst exchanging pleasantries.

One website post described the participants as ..”unions, students, veterans, first responders, families, the unemployed and the underemployed. We are all races, sexes and creeds.” The issues are as diverse as the crowd, housing, human rights, criminal justice, urban development, community development, banks and bankers and war and peace. The New York press viewed the protestors as unorganized and without a coherent theme or clear expression of demands or goals, confused, some wrote. But, it became apparent that this protest was not political as in Democrats verses Republicans. There are as many protestors put off by Obama as there are those disenchanted with Mitt Romney.

There are liberals and conservatives and libertarians and tea party adherents in the crowd. One person described the crowd as not politically “left and right,” but “up and down,” all victimized by corruption in our political and economic systems. The general consensus was that this rag tag group of idle youth would tire of the inconvenience, give it up and return to the place from whence they came. But, they kept coming, the merely curious and individuals and small groups and if one looked carefully the crowd was getting older.

Some time near the tenth day, give or take two or three days either way, the Captains of Industry on the upper floors became peeved with the daily hassle and piqued that the police (the foot soldiers) were a bit too friendly toward the peaceful protestors. We may never know which bigwig made the call, perhaps several called, but a call was made to Mayor Bloomberg or to one or more of his subordinates that went something like this:

“I hate to bother you with this, but this group of misfits is beginning to stink up the place. Something has got to be done. These unemployed, lazy, good-for-nothings have got to go. For God’s sake, your police officers are just standing around smiling. They’re too nice and too kind, too friendly with these hippy freaks.”

That’s why we saw those white shirted supervisors from the NYPD burst on the scene. The intent of these high ranking police officers was to demonstrate to their subordinates how to rough up a crowd of hippies, throw unarmed and peaceful protestors to the ground and how to discourage an otherwise peaceful assembly. Then, in an attempt to put an exclamation point on their power point presentation one commander wantonly and deliberately pepper sprayed three young women who were only trying to get out of the way.

Too be sure, nothing will happen to those police officials that abused their power, but they, like the power elite and the monied class, mis-underestimated (to quote President Bush) the power of the people. Even Mayor Bloomberg missed the point of the demonstrations when he declared on a local radio station that the protestors “are protesting against people who make $40,000 to $50,000 a year who are struggling to make ends meet. That’s the bottom line,” Bloomberg said.

The protest movement is growing and spreading. Nearly two thousand people marched in Boston and events are planned for Chicago and Los Angles. Wall Street is gaining attention. Michael Moore stopped by the other day and labor unions are getting involved. The firefighters are planning to show support. Richard Trumpka, President of the AFL-CIO has pledged his support and the the 2.5 million member SEIU--Service Employee International Union is planning to attend in numbers and sit up food tents and rest stations.

Wall Street protestors have been arrested, but oddly enough, not one of those who swindled the world has even been investigated. The political and monied classes pushes on aggravated, but undeterred. But, the Wall Street protestors are like a butterfly that flapped its wings on Wall Street and created gale force winds in Los Angeles.

Bob Dylan continued.... put your eyes in your pocket And your nose on the ground There ought to be a law Against you comin’ around ...something is happening And you don’t know what it is Do you Mister Jones?


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Wall Street Protestors (Double click to enlarge)