'Occupy' Winds Lift de Blasio

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Occupy Wall Street supporters gather in Zuccotti Park for the movement's second anniversary. (Brigid Bergin/WNYC)

Bill de Blasio called it "a tale of two cities" — not "Occupy Wall Street." But the fierce anti-inequality sentiment that provoked mass protests two years ago Tuesday is giving his campaign for mayor a huge boost. And, that's fine with de Blasio.

At the corner of Zuccotti Park, where the Occupy movement began, 32-year-old Roman Shusterman stood under a red iron sculpture named Joie de Vivre holding a handmade sign that read: "Bill de Blasio will save us."

But a passing protester is unconvinced and barks, "De Blasio talked some Occupy talk. He ain't done nothing."

This anniversary, people organized to get money out of politics, increase pay for fast food workers, and add a tax to financial transactions to pay for things like health care and debt relief. But distilled to its essence, the movement is and has been about inequality.

When asked whether he saw any similarities between his tale of two cities and the Occupy movement, de Blasio said, "obviously."

"It's a complicated movement to say the least, but the core message was that we have to address inequality and I think it was an important message," said de Blasio at press conference at City Hall, where Council Speaker Christine Quinn was now endorsing his run.

Once, Quinn was the front-runner. But three-quarters of voters in exit polls said they wanted a clean break from Bloomberg. De Blasio's campaign was lifted aloft by the same sentiment that drove scores of New Yorkers to sleep in tents two years ago.

The way de Blasio has framed that conversation has been consistent: the tale of two cities. But Republican Joe Lhota calls that language class warfare.

"That's code," Lhota told reporters Monday. "That's code for divisiveness and I won't stand for it and I won't let him get away with it."

Lhota said he will also offer voters a change from the Bloomberg administration. But his change will be "practical" compared to de Blasio, whom he says offers something "radical."

But that radical change is what appeals to some Occupy supporters. Harry Waisbren, 27, voted for de Blasio and said he feels "hopeful" about his administration, although he added a note of caution.

"They'll come a time where this mayor who wants to be the mayor for the 99 percent will have to put up," said Waisbren.

Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Roman Shusterman, 32, carried the one overt sign supporting Bill de Blasio for mayor at Zuccotti Park on Tuesday.
Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Occupy supporters march the perimeter of Zuccotti Park.
Harry Waisbren, 27, voted for de Blasio. But he understands why the Occupy movement does not endorse candidates.
Despite a smaller turnout from Occupy supporters, the media was still there in large numbers.


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Comments [6]

MigraineNYC from Park Slope

I'm not worried about the rich picking up and leaving. I'm more worried about the rest of us, everyday folk, needing to pick up and leave. I've come across far more people--not super poor but solidly middle class-- who are picking up and leaving not only the city, but the state, because NYC is too expensive. Rents are too damn high and education for our kids boils down to a dice throw of whether or not you can get your kids into one of the better public schools. Paying private tuition isn't even an option.

And sorry Lhota. I don't care if you or the uber-rich are offended by talk of a Tale of Two Cities. What de Blasio says is absolutely true. New Yorkers live too close to the rich, see how high rents are rising in Brooklyn, wondering who the hell can pay for this stuff without needing a trust fund (or second or third job), to worry about offending the wealthy.

People might routinely vote against their economic interests in places like Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas or Mississippi, where they can't seem to figure out that they will NEVER climb to the tippy top of the ladder and benefit from the Republican 'don't tax the rich' nonsense. But that load of bull won't fly in NYC.

Sep. 18 2013 11:41 AM

The rich are going to pick up and leave? That's like going into a Gucci store and telling them "if you raise prices on those $1200 pants the rich are going to leave!". Get real man. New York is a prestiguous luxury good for the elite, the more expensive it is the more appealing it gets. Do you really think the Koch brothers are going to leave Park Avenue or whatever and move to Buffalo to save 1% on their taxes?

Sep. 18 2013 10:39 AM
Dan from Brooklyn

Given that the story is about Occupy Wall Street and the mayoral race, the caption should mention that Green Party mayoral candidate Tony Gronowicz is in the lead image (second from left).

Sep. 18 2013 08:05 AM
CK from Yorktown

Yes, I know. It all sounds so wonderful. Tax the rich more and in doing so Bill will "save us." Do that and watch the rich pick up and leave. There gets to be a point when it's no longer worth it to stay. Don't think it happens? Wait. You know the expression about sooner or later you run out of other people's money? That's exactly what will happen if you tax too much. And then who will those real estate developers be selling to?

Sep. 18 2013 07:44 AM
Rad Rich from Zuccotti Park

Shouldn't the headline be: 'Occupy' Stench Lifts DeBlasio?
Seriously. Were you there? Phew! It was awful.

Sep. 17 2013 07:10 PM
Bloomy Baby from DUMB-O

Wait, are real estate developers—the ones who DeBlasio is only too happy to accept money from—are they part of the Occupado Movement?

Sep. 17 2013 07:01 PM

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