Wall Street Warily Eyes the Protests on Its Doorstep

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Members of Occupy Wall Street protesting at the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have riveted the nation's attention, and are now spreading to other cities, but it's unclear whether the protesters' message is actually reaching financial institutions and the people who work there.

Walk the perimeter of Zuccotti Park and you'll see people beating drums and raising banners, and tourists taking photos — but precious few men and women in suits.

Two blocks down, and one block over on Wall Street, a pair of stock brokers leaned against a metal police barrier, enjoying a smoke at the end of the trading day. Despite a heavy police presence, there were no protesters here. Broker Rich Schaefer said he's avoided the demonstrations.

"I don’t know what platform they’re on and there’s other ways to go about it. You’re not gonna solve the crisis in a day," Schaefer said.

But Schaefer’s colleague, Sperry Young sees the protests differently. He said rage is perfectly understandable, if you're not a banker.

"You can't pay your bills, your credit cards are mounting up…If you started your career at 22, at 32 you're done? I understand that they're upset," Young said.

The protests are now in their third week. And banks have had little to say.

WNYC reached out to the major financial institutions in New York. Only Bank of America would comment: "This protest, and others like it, reinforce the urgency of sharing the important work we do and its significant impact at the local level.  America needs strong banks for a strong economy, and we are working to help get the economy moving again."

Many protesters would surely find lots to quibble with there.

But Kathy Wylde, president of the business group Partnership for New York City, said banks and protesters really do have some things in common. Wylde believes the people making signs in Zuccotti Park and the high earners in the office towers above it are all frustrated with gridlock in Washington and the stalled economic recovery.

While instability in Greece may be the most immediate concern to some CEO's, Wylde has spoken with CEO’s whose own adult children can’t find work.

"You know, recent college graduates who are out of work, [whose parents] are saying, I don't know where my kids are gonna get a job."



Below is a map showing the locations of major financial institutions in relation to the protesters at Zuccotti Park.


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Comments [6]

LP from Ledgewood, NJ

Reading this article I am reminded of a very prominent US banker's recent statement that he is simply doing "God's Work" at Wall Street. What the protesters are doing is the real "God's Work" -- helping and caring about your fellow Americans, especially those who are among the 99%.

Another major banker said a couple of days ago, "We have a right to make a profit" while his bank is busily implementing charging its customers $5 a month for using their debit cards. To make such public statement against the backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street protests reflects the height of insensitivity; the irony makes me want to laugh, if only the situation weren't so desperate for the 99% :-(

Oct. 07 2011 01:27 PM
erla tobin from Upper West Side

There were 40,000 people, of every age and from every walk of life gathered in NYC today for the Occupation of Wall Street. Was covered better in other cities. WNYC didn't cover much and when mentioned on air, it seemed that people who generally sound knowledgeable, were either clueless or snide. Perhaps your commercial backers have applied such a heavy hand that their hand is now obvious. This makes me very sad! Many of us will be finding another station to listen to. :(

Oct. 05 2011 10:51 PM
PL Wilson from Midtown Manhattan

I think this coverage is stunningly thin. How about reporting the fact that at least 5 unions participated today including CUNY Professors.

Is this lack of coverage by design?

Oct. 05 2011 09:08 PM
Jason from Brooklyn

The only coverage of Occupy Wall Street on this website is written through the perspective of the Wall Street brokers. Interesting. And shameful.

Oct. 05 2011 08:27 PM
Kathryn Munnell from Brooklyn, NY

I attended the rally in Foley Square this afternoon. I believe there were over 3000 maybe as many as 6000 people in the park and on the steps of both court houses. It was inspiring to talk with so many people from around the country and up state who came for the rally and to be down at Wall Street. The police were more laid back than in the past. I thought it was great that there were many people in their 40s 50s and who were retired there to give support to the younger folks who have been doing all the heavy lifting to date. We must keep up to momentum and get others in the 99% to join us and to get our Congress Reps and Reps in State Assembly to take this movement seriously.

Oct. 05 2011 08:10 PM
Brandt Hardin from Clarksville

The movement is gaining momentum in its THIRD week now and Occupations are popping up all over the country! Stand up together and use your voice to give to those without through peace and solidarity. Tax the rich and feed the poor- you are the 99%! See my Occupy Wall Street painting and Anonymous homage on my artist’s blog at where you can also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for coverage of the movement.

Oct. 04 2011 08:24 PM

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