‘Occupy Wall Street’, 99 percent movements get challenge from the other 1 percent

October 7, 2011

The “Occupy’”movement has spread from its New York birthplace to several other major cities, including Boston, Washington D.C. and L.A.. What protesters might not have expected was that the one percent of Americans that the protests are targeting would hit back. As Elizabeth Flock reported:

In a news conference yesterday, President Obama told the protesters of Occupy Wall Street he understood their concerns about the nation's financial system, but also defended those who worked in the financial sector, saying their work was necessary for the economy to grow

It was the first time the focus had been shifted from the “We are the 99 percent” of people who have been protesting over corporate greed on Wall Street, among other issues, to the “one percent” of people they’re protesting.

As the “Occupy” movement continues to spread across the nation, the bankers who work on and around Wall Street have begun to speak up. Some have responded by telling protesters they aren’t so different from them, or started their own counter-protests. Others have said they just don’t care.

Exception Magazine reports that last night, self-identified Wall Street workers were seen wandering through Zuccotti Park during the General Assembly meeting to challenge attendees on why they had come to protest.

The two workers called out protesters for rallying against corporations while consuming products like designer clothes and iPads. They pointed out that most of the protesters clearly could afford to eat. And they echoed Mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument that some bankers are struggling to make ends meet, too.

New York Federal Reserve's board of directors Kathryn Wylde agreed with the two wayward bankers, Public Radio International reports, saying recently that if the protesters actually “talked to the people working inside the banks and on Wall Street ... they would find they have far more in common with them than what divides them.”

A counter-protest has also started on Wall Street, “Occupy Occupy Wall Street,” by two investment bankers who are fed up with the demonstrations.

In Washington, Occupy DC protesters took to the Metro to demonstrate on Friday, handing out fliers while posing as members of America’s one percent. As Katie Rogers explained:

Nearly a week into “Occupy DC” demonstrations and a day after protestors took to D.C.’s Freedom Plaza, the movement that Wall Street built is still attracting supporters.

Now, Metro riders may find members of America’s 99 percent clogging their daily commute.

A video posted on Occupy DC’s Web site shows a cluster of dressed-to-the-nines demonstrators posing as America’s 1 percent, brandishing an iPad, toasting champagne glasses and handing fliers to riders who mostly just look tired.

As political leaders begin to react to the growing protest movement, some analysts wonder if President Obama can tap into the movement’s energy. As Dana Milbank opined:

As the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators moved to Washington on Thursday and swarmed outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, President Obama was at the other end of Lafayette Square trying to align himself with the swelling protest movement.

“I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place,” the president said at a news conference in the East Room.

For the struggling president, the nascent movement offers a chance at salvation, the opportunity to excite liberals with the sort of populist energy that has fueled the Tea Party for two years. But, as liberal leaders already know, the young movement must be careful to avoid Obama’s embrace: He decimated the progressive cause once, and he would do it again if given the chance.

Liberal activists who rallied behind Obama in 2008 watched as he defied their wishes and instead made unrequited concessions to the Republicans. “Every one in this crowd, I am certain, has had disappointments and frustrations with this White House,” Robert Borosage, a director of the Campaign for America’s Future, told the audience as he convened the Take Back the American Dream Conference, an annual gathering of liberal activists in Washington, this week. He accused Obama of being “too cautious” and “pre-compromised” and criticized his performance on jobs, global warming, defense and foreign policy.

Another of the speakers at the confab, former Obama White House official Van Jones, said it was liberals’ own fault for placing too much faith in the president. “We all affiliated [with] him,” he said. “We made a mistake.” Obama “got to become head of state, he got promoted — good for him,” said Jones, who was forced to quit the White House when conservative critics attacked him. “But here we are — and it’s worse than before.”

More from The Washington Post

Opinion: Rescuing America from Wall Street

Who are the 99 percent?

Russ Feingold endorses Occupy Wall Street

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