Those crazy, subversive Tea Party-types are at it again, this time getting arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge after...oh. What's that? You mean those 700 arrested protesters were members of the Occupy Wall Street movement?
Yesterday, NYPD officers arrested hundreds of participants as they crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, having ignored repeated warnings to stay out of auto traffic lanes. The march was intended to bring greater media attention to their cause, as they speak out against high unemployment, the 2008 bailouts, and what they see as a financial system fraught with corruption and crony capitalism. Unfortunately for these activists, however, their traffic jam made more news than their cause.
During Saturday's march on the Brooklyn Bridge, some protesters sat on the roadway, chanting "Let us go," while others chanted and yelled at police from the pedestrian walkaway above. Police used orange netting to stop the group from going farther down the bridge, which is under construction.
Some of the protesters said they were lured onto the roadway by police, or they didn't hear the calls from authorities to head to the pedestrian walkway. Police said no one was tricked into being arrested, and those in the back of the group who couldn't hear were allowed to leave.
"Multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway and that if they took roadway they would be arrested," said Paul Browne, the chief spokesman of the New York Police Department.
The NYPD on Sunday released video footage to back up its stance. In one of the videos, an official uses a bullhorn to warn the crowd. Marchers can be seen chanting, "Take the bridge."
Support for Occupy Wall Street has been growing in recent days, with celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore stopping by the movement's camp at Zuccotti Park, in downtown Manhattan. Unions, too, have pledged their support, and are lending their clout and structure to the "occupation" and its planning, specifically for another march to take place this Wednesday.
Some of the biggest players in organized labor are involved in planning for Wednesday's demonstration, either directly or through coalitions. The United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Communications Workers of America are all expected to participate. The Working Families Party is helping to organize the march, and MoveOn.org is expected to mobilize its extensive online regional networks to drum up support.
“We're getting involved because the crisis was caused by the excesses of Wall Street, and the consequences have fallen hardest on workers,” a spokesman for TWU Local 100 said.
However, union leaders were quick to denounce the idea that they intend to take over the protest, and are instead excited to join a populist, faceless movement that's "too big to ignore." They merely support the cause, and see an opportunity to give their own agenda another platform.
Another powerful demographic has joined the "occupation" as well: hackers. U.S. security officials have warned that the organization may start to target Wall Street as part of the movement:
Amid the real world protests swarming around Wall Street, the Department of Homeland Security has warned financial companies to be vigilant against a looming cyber-security threat from Anonymous, a headless horde of activist hackers.
Wanted for shutting down Web sites as high-profile as that of the CIA, a recently released DHS bulletin said the group “will continue to exploit vulnerable, publicly available Web servers, computer networks and other digital information mediums for the foreseeable future.”
While the DHS warning doesn’t mention Wall Street protests in particular, it did say that “publicized events” like Occupy Wall Street may motivate the group.
No word yet on any attempted hacks, but a group like Anonymous could prove to be a powerful ally for the otherwise innocuous protesters. Incoherent hoardes of picketers utilizing the products of the very organizations they purport to boycott is one matter (How we gonna tweet about corporate greed?!). An all-out Internet assault that could target account information of individuals, corporations, and governments alike is quite another.
Indeed, the question of effect has haunted the "occupation" from its beginnings, as many on the conservative side have viewed the protest as the Tea Party's unwashed, trustafarian cousin. Protesters have vowed to hold ground through the winter months, and according to their website, they are compiling a list of demands to present to Congress in Washington, D.C. Of course, the group has no leadership to speak of, and some members have commented on the fact that this could interfere with the movement's impact.
“The challenge is, how do you transfer protest into power?” [Communications Workers of America's] Mr. Master said. “At the end of the day, you have to figure out a way to take this energy and turn it into legislation that really changes people's lives.”
So what, exactly, are their demands? I checked out their website and found a goldmine of cliches and grammatical errors, along with a list of incoherent, unsupported, Wikipedia-cited ideas for "effective legislation"--an oxymoron if there ever was one. Ranging from reinstating Glass-Steagal (#1), to legislation overriding Citizens United (#3), to passing the Fairness Doctrine (#9), the list also includes suggestions for protest slogans, like this: "RE-IN-STATE the ACT GLASS-STEAGALL. IT MAKES THE WALL STREET GAMES ILLEGAL."
Clearly someone took a class on the great beat poets of history instead of economics.
My favorite demand, however, is number five, which I now present to you in its unedited entirety:
CONGRESS COMPLETELY REVAMP THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION and staff it at all levels with proven professionals who get the job done protecting the integrity of the marketplace so citizens and investors are both protected. This agency needs a large staff and needs to be well-funded. It's currently has a joke of a budget and is run by Wall St. insiders who often leave for high ticket cushy jobs with the corporations they were just regulating. Hmmm.
And how will we fund this expanded SEC? Why, by soaking the rich! Naturally, demand number four calls for passing the so-called "Buffet Rule," despite its namesake's opposition to it.
Behold! A genius plan rivaling those concocted by the Founding Fathers. Because if Thomas Jefferson were alive, you know he'd be obstructing traffic for media coverage.