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Occupy Wall Street - Day One

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AFSME, the powerful NY labor union who recently called for Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein to surrender one of his powerful dual roles could not be found, neither could any other labor unions.  

The major political parties were unrepresented.  And, the major social support organizations were not represented. In short, there was nobody there from the organized mainstream world of powerful charities and special interests.  

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Please correct me in the comments section if I am wrong but there was no NOW, no ACLU, no ALF-CIO, no Progress Now, no Planned Parenthood, no Progressive Democrats for America, no Human Rights Campaign, no AARP, and no Working Families Party just to call out a few of the major no shows.

And finally, few people from NYC itself with an unemployment rate of 8.8%, but where under16% live in poverty and 75% of the household have incomes of over $25,000.

Arrests: Two people were arrested for trying to enter a Bank of America wearing masks.   Question: we're they protesters or bank robbers, and how stupid is that and does it make any point?

The Situation:

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Wall Street and the streets leading to Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange were locked down in a 007 world of security devices: multiple layers of turntable barricades, rising steel blockades, bulletproof black box security personnel vaults, video surveillance and dozens of uniformed and plainclothes police, the former sporting bundles of nylon strap handcuffs.

What were they afraid of?   

They NYPD will tell you they were there to protect the important infrastructures of the financial district.   I will tell you they are afraid of images of people, regular people, protesting on Wall Street in front of the iconic NYSE.   It's just too inflammatory at this point-in-time.   The American rage at the banks and the financial system might be set off and the occupation might just get traction should large numbers of other Americans be privy to what's going down.

In the late afternoon we march up Broadway against the traffic and against the wishes of the NYPD to Zuccotti Park under the shadow of the new Freedom Tower at 9/11 Ground Zero to the west.  

The General Assembly:

Those who wanted to have an active voice in next steps met in four large groups, each of more than 200 participants.   Everyone who wanted a say had a say.   Themes ranged from the ending corporate personhood, to breaking up the too big to fail banks, to ending the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy, to medical and financial care for first 9/11 First Responders, to worker ownership of corporations and various suggestions to achieve same.

Wall Street Occupation General Assembly by Chaz Valenza

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One of the main goals for the group I participated in was to organize the movement itself which was purposefully, according to the leadership, loosely organized.  

The main organizing tool is the Google Group: September 17

Next Days:

More people encamped, more people as daily supporters, more organizations sending groups of supporters every day or this thing will fizzle.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)

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