Spirit of Seattle is back as protesters take on Wall Street

US-based anti-capitalist activist Virginia Rodino reports on a protest at the heart of the system

On Friday 17 September a group of largely young campaigners, artists, and students occupied Wall Street in New York’s financial district.

The protest has a spirit reminiscent of the 1999 demonstrations in Seattle. It aims to represent “the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent” at the top of society.

This couldn’t be more timely. One in six Americans is living in poverty. The Medicaid and Medicare health welfare systems are being targeted for cuts. And high unemployment is expected throughout next year.

Protesters compare their action to those of the “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movement breaking out across the Middle East and North Africa.

They point to the injustice of a situation where gigantic banks are bailed out and corporate chief executives still grab massive bonuses, yet workers stand to lose their homes, jobs and social services.
Police have responded to the peaceful demonstrators with excessive force and brutality. One video show people knocked to the ground and arrested for no reason. Another shows a group of young women corralled into a holding area and sprayed in the face with pepper spray.

The group of several hundred protesters on Wall Street grew out of the “New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts” group that recently held a three-week occupation near New York’s City Hall. They were protesting against austerity measures being pushed through by Michel Bloomberg, New York’s billionaire mayor.

The anger is building among ordinary Americans forced to pay for a deepening crisis caused by the super-rich and the bankers. Earlier this year demonstrators occupied the statehouse in Wisconsin. The latest Wall Street protest targets a seat of global financial power.


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