STORM WALL STREET
99% Ground Swell Against Wall Street’s Debt to Mother Earth
At 10am, we will unite in front of the doors of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, at Bowling Green, the site of Occupy Wall Street’s first assembly. All roads lead to Wall Street, when it comes to the environmental crisis: Every day, the big banks invest in fossil fuel extraction and borrow against our future. Rising sea levels and surging debt will soon land us underwater!
At the site from which Occupy Wall Street first arose, we are calling for an end to the corporate occupation of the planet and demonstrating that a just and sustainable world is possible. As the 99% circle New York’s first public park, our groundswell will remind the 1% of their growing debts to Mother Earth and that the Commons belong to us all.
September 19, 2012 from The New Yorker
THE OCCUPY CANDIDATE
On a brisk Monday morning, Jill Stein, the Presidential candidate for the Green Party, was in New York City to give a speech. She was ready to go: her gray hair was neatly combed; a bright scarf was draped over her slim shoulders. But she was waiting for her audience—the protesters celebrating the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street—to assemble in the shadow of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The protesters, who had spent the morning creating a human wall around the Financial District and deploying disruptive “swirls” of people in intersections, were slow to arrive. As she waited, Stein gave a reporter a teaser of her address. “The issues that are really gripping people are jobs, our economic debt crisis, the student debt crisis, the housing foreclosure crisis, and the skyrocketing cost of health care,” she said.
As part of Stein’s visit to New York, she had planned to appear on John Stossel’s show on Fox Business Network, for a round table along with Stewart Alexander, the Socialist Party candidate, plus Virgil Goode, of the Constitution Party, and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. She pulled out, however, when she learned that her remarks on the show would not be broadcast live. “I think it’s really important for us to be able to speak freely, especially when you have an editor like Fox,” she said. Having given up her bully pulpit on national television, and Stossel’s viewers, Stein would now have to fight for a chance to speak above the joyful din at Bowling Green.
A little after ten o’clock, whistles and tambourines announced the arrival of the marchers, who slowly assembled in the park below the court. Anthony Gronowicz, the president of the New York Green Party, steered Stein—who paused on the way to grab handfuls of blueberries and wheat sprouts from a plastic container—into what seemed to be the center of the action so that she could address the crowd. Before Gronowicz could claim the spotlight for her, though, the people’s microphone came online:
“Mic check!” called out an unseen protester.
“Mic check!” the crowd responded.
“Why don’t we…” he suggested.
“Why don’t we…”
“Take a walk around this park!”
“Take a walk around this park!”
Thwarted, Stein joined the marchers, only to run into the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping, who was meant to m.c. the festivities, but who had ceded the spot to the collective. He had worked up a sweat in the morning’s activities, and was rummaging around his pockets.
“What kind of reverend am I without a handkerchief?” he boomed in his practiced preacher’s voice, and attempted to guide Stein once more to the front of the crowd. But once again, the people’s mike stopped her, this time for a group singalong of “We Shall Not Be Moved,” which Stein joined. Then the people’s mike requested that everyone be seated, so that a street theatre performance could commence. Stein crouched on the pavement, jotting down notes for her speech, while eight performers holding hoops festooned with plastic garbage bags to look like jellyfish danced to some baleful polka music and explained how the jellyfish were like toxic assets. (Or so it seemed; the people’s mike appeared to have some interference.)
As the Jellyfish Brigade dispersed, Stein once again made her way to the front of the crowd, hoping to capture their attention, but then a new group of performers took the stage, with an allegory about corporate greed and the tooth fairy. So Stein waited in the wings: chatting with supporters, batting away balloons that read “I Am Not a Loan.” After the tooth-fairy tale concluded, another skit began. One of the event organizers, Rebecca Manski, a slim woman in a black lace dress, signalled to the performers that it was time to wrap up. “It was cool at first, but now it’s annoying,” she muttered.
With that last allegory complete, a Lenin look-alike named Peter Ruch (actually Rugh) sprang into the middle of the group and introduced Stein’s running mate, Cheri Honkala, “the first formerly homeless woman running for Vice-President,” who brought on Stein. Finally able to speak, Stein ran through her best applause lines. She declared that America is at a breaking point, and that it’s “time to turn that breaking point into a tipping point,” and she criticized the Dodd-Frank Act as “gutless, toothless, and useless.” As she brought her speech to its end, she pointed to the nearby headquarters of H.S.B.C. and described its “greenwashing” initiatives as a “partnership with the devil.” The protesters wiggled their fingers in the air to signal their support. With that, Stein relinquished the people’s mike to Green Party speakers from South Africa and England. Her schedule called for a few more interviews, and then a break until a fundraiser in the evening. She’d only slept five hours in the last two nights, and she needed a nap.