Posts Tagged Occupy Wall Street
Photography In Public Is Not A Crime
from the protecting-the-first-amendment dept
Sadly, we talk way too often about police arresting people for doing nothing other than taking a picture or filming them. The police officers being filmed and photographed make these arrests using various excuses, but frequently the charges get dropped for lack of merit. The reason charges rarely stick when an officer is filmed is because filming police, or anyone in a public space, is not illegal. Some people may not like it, but it is a fact.
The New York Times is waking up to this fact that photography is not a crime. In an interview with Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counselor for the National Press Photographers Association, they get down to the nitty gritty of the legalities surrounding this age old tradition. They also talk a bit about just why such arrests are happening more frequently.
Since 9/11, there’s been an incredible number of incidents where photographers are being interfered with and arrested for doing nothing other than taking pictures or recording video in public places.
It’s not just news photographers who should be concerned with this. I think every citizen should be concerned. Tourists taking pictures are being told by police, security guards and sometimes other citizens, “Sorry, you can’t take a picture here.” When asked why, they say, “Well, don’t you remember 9/11?”
I haven’t really thought of criminalizing photography as something to do with 9/11 before. I know that a lot of our rights have been eroded since that day, but the photography aspect never really clicked until now. Just as Mickey can’t make heads nor tails of this argument, I am struggling to find a connection here. I don’t recall cameras being a part of the plots to destroy the Twin Towers, Pentagon or White House.
Of course there could be more reasons for this increase in arresting photographers. Mickey suspects that part of the reason is the proliferation of the camera. Pretty much everyone with a smart phone has a camera capable of taking some very high quality pictures. Prior to this boom, the police had some modicum of control over the press. They knew the press wasn’t going to be everywhere and were used to not being under constant recordable surveillance by the public. Now that anyone could be filming them or taking their picture, they are more on edge and more prone to lashing out.
When this happens, it is important for those accused to know their rights. However, it is also important for the police to know the public’s rights as well. While you, as a photographer, may know that you have the right to take pictures or film in a public space, some officers may not know or may have forgotten that fact. That is why the Mickey and others have been working with police to keep officers reminded of that right.
Q. After photographers were stopped from photographing the police clearing Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park, you and representatives of a media coalition including The Times, met with the police commissioner Ray Kelly. What happened at that meeting?
A. It was on Nov. 23. I asked the commissioner if he would reissue the “finest message” from 1999 that dealt with the police cooperating with the press. He did that. It was read at 10 consecutive roll calls in every single station house and precinct.
The finest message is a policy statement on police interactions with the press. It states that officers are not to interfere with videotaping and photographing in public places. It also reminds officers that they have an obligation to assist the press whenever possible. This is very similar to the recent news when the DC police chief laid down the law on filming of officers.
Hopefully, continually repeating this message will help slow down this barrage of arrests for photographing the police. As more officers are reminded of the rights of the cameras-wielding public, we will hopefully start to see fewer future incidents. It would be great if other police departments across the nation follow the lead of NY and DC police in proactively spreading the word about the rights of the public to record and photograph the police.
- Pre-Conventions, Photographers Know Your Rights (reason.com)
- “The War on Terrorism Has Somehow Morphed into an Assault on Photography” (petapixel.com)
- Don’t Take A Picture In Public (crooksandliars.com)
- Veteran NYTimes Photographer Arrested & Allegedly Beaten by NYPD [Interview] (chasejarvis.com)
- Photojournalist group urges NYPD to ‘do the right thing’ (capitalnewyork.com)
- Photographer Arrested After Fight With Police (huffingtonpost.com)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting Moment (mikehardisty.wordpress.com)
- Sebastien Zanella – Photography (wevelostcontrol.com)
- Times Photographer Roughed Up by NYPD Just Wants His Stuff Back (nymag.com)
- New York Times fights NYPD after photographer brutally arrested (rt.com)
Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole
Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times
By LOREN FELDMAN
Published: July 14, 2012
THE business deal from hell began to crumble even before the Champagne corks were popped.
The deal, the $580 million sale of a highflying technology company, Dragon Systems, had just been approved by its board and congratulations were being exchanged. But even then, at that moment of celebration, there was a sense that something was amiss.
The chief executive of Dragon had received a congratulatory bottle from the investment bankers representing the acquiring company, a Belgian competitor called Lernout & Hauspie. But he hadn’t heard from Dragon’s own bankers at Goldman Sachs.
“I still have not received anything from Goldman,” the executive wrote in an e-mail to the other bank. “Do they know something I should know?”
More than a decade later, that question is still reverberating in a brutal legal battle between Goldman and the founders of Dragon Systems — along with a host of other questions that go to the heart of how financial giants like Goldman operate and what exactly they owe their clients.
James and Janet Baker spent nearly two decades building Dragon, a voice technology company, into a successful, multimillion-dollar enterprise. It was, they say, their “third child.” So in late 1999, when offers to buy Dragon began rolling in, the couple made what seemed a smart decision: they turned to Goldman Sachs for advice. And why not? Goldman, after all, was the leading dealmaker on Wall Street. The Bakers wanted the best.
This, of course, was before the scandals of the subprime mortgage era. It was before the bailouts, before Occupy Wall Street, before ordinary Americans began complaining about “banksters” and “muppets” and “the vampire squid.” In short, before Goldman Sachs became, for many, synonymous with Wall Street greed.
And yet, even today what happened next to the Bakers seems remarkable. With Goldman Sachs on the job, the corporate takeover of Dragon Systems in an all-stock deal went terribly wrong. Goldman collected millions of dollars in fees — and the Bakers lost everything when Lernout & Hauspie was revealed to be a spectacular fraud. L.& H. had been founded by Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie, who had once been hailed as stars of the 1990s tech boom. Only later did the Bakers learn that Goldman Sachs itself had at one point considered investing in L.& H. but had walked away after some digging into the company.
This being Wall Street, a lot of money is now at stake. In federal court in Boston, the Bakers are demanding damages, including interest and legal fees, that could top $1 billion. That figure is nearly twice what Goldman paid to settle claims that it misled investors about subprime mortgage investments before the financial crisis of 2008.
This account is based on a trove of legal filings — e-mails, motions and roughly 30 depositions, more than 8,000 pages of sworn testimony in all — that open a rare window on Goldman Sachs and the mystique that surrounds it.
JAMES AND JANET BAKER, now in their 60s, are computer speech revolutionaries. Both Ph.D.’s, they became interested in voice-recognition technology in the 1970s, back when a personal assistant like Apple’s Siri would have seemed more science fiction than scientific fact.
They are widely credited with advancing speech technology far faster than anyone thought possible, primarily because of an epiphany Mr. Baker had while doing his doctorate research. He figured out that speech recognition could, in essence, be reduced to math. You didn’t have to teach a computer to recognize accents or dialects, Mr. Baker realized — you just had to calculate the mathematical probability of one sound following another. His algorithms proved remarkably accurate and eventually became the industry standard. (Want to know more? Ask Siri.)
The Bakers founded Dragon Systems in 1982 in an old Victorian house in West Newton, Mass. At that time, despite having two school-age children and a big mortgage, they were determined to take no venture capital and to finance the company’s growth with its own revenue — once they had a product. They figured they could last 18 months, maybe 24.
Their first product was a software program for a British-made PC called the Apricot that let users open files and run programs by voice command. Then came DragonDictate, a groundbreaking speech-to-text system for dictation that still required the speaker to pause. Between. Every. Word.
For years, the Bakers pressed on, convinced that they were on track to create a program that would recognize continuous speech.
To do that, however, they eventually decided that they needed more capital. While Mr. Baker worked on the technology, Ms. Baker brokered a deal with Seagate Technology, the disk drive manufacturer. Seagate bought 25 percent of Dragon for $20 million. Then, in 1997, Dragon introduced Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a program that recognized more words than could be found in a standard collegiate dictionary. It was available in six languages and could handle normal speech, even sentences with words that sound alike, such as, “Please write a letter right now to Mrs. Wright. Tell her that two is too many to buy.”
By this time, I.B.M. and others had piled into the voice technology market, too. As the Nasdaq market raced toward record highs, the Bakers considered taking Dragon public. But in 1999, several companies — including Sony and Intel — expressed interest in buying into Dragon. Finally, unsolicited buyout offers began to arrive. One came from Visteon, a subsidiary of Ford Motor. Another arrived from Lernout & Hauspie.
TO the uninitiated, the mystique of Goldman Sachs may be hard to fathom. Known for what might politely be called ruthless professionalism, Goldman, the thinking goes, is smarter and more plugged in than just about any other investment bank. In the late 1990s, under Henry M. Paulson Jr., who later became the Treasury secretary and orchestrated the Wall Street bailouts, Goldman was the alpha dog in the lucrative game of mergers and acquisitions.
So it was that in December 1999, the Bakers, in over their heads when it came to M.& A., signed a five-page engagement letter drafted by Goldman. In it, Goldman pledged to provide “financial advice and assistance in connection with this potential transaction, which may include performing valuation analyses, searching for a purchaser acceptable to you, coordinating visits of potential purchasers, and assisting you in negotiating the financial aspects of the transaction.”
To the Dragon deal, Goldman assigned four bankers, two in their 20s and one in his early 30s. That wasn’t unusual. Although Dragon Systems was worth everything to the Bakers, the company — with $70 million in revenue and 400 employees — was small beer on Wall Street. Dragon agreed to pay Goldman a flat fee of $5 million, less than some Goldman bankers were pulling down.
But who, if anyone, supervised these bankers — later called “the Goldman Four” in court documents — remains something of a mystery. One of the four, the most senior, testified later that their supervisor was Gene T. Sykes, a Goldman partner who at the time specialized in technology and who this year was promoted to head of M.& A. at the firm, one of the most powerful jobs on Wall Street. In a deposition, Mr. Sykes disavowed any involvement.
Most of the Goldman Four didn’t stay long at the bank. Richard Wayner, who was 32 when the Dragon deal was cut, struck out on his own in 2002 and eventually landed at the Keffi Group, an investment firm. T. Otey Smith, then 21, left Goldman in 2000 and now works for RLJ Equity Partners. Alexander Berzofsky, then 25, left Goldman at about the same time and is now a managing director at Warburg Pincus, the big private investment company. Chris Fine, then 42, was a Goldman information technology specialist who was enlisted on the deal and is still with Goldman. (None of the four agreed to be interviewed for this article.)
Before the engagement letter was signed in late 1999, Goldman sent Dragon a memo indicating that its first steps would include beginning to conduct due diligence — Wall Street-speak for kicking the tires — on L.& H. The memo included specific areas of concern, including L.& H.’s sources of revenue, its major customers, its license agreements and royalty agreements, its expected growth, its partnerships and its financial statements.
THAT December, Mr. Wayner of Goldman accompanied Ms. Baker and Dragon’s chief financial officer, Ellen Chamberlain, on a trip to Belgium to meet L.& H. executives. For the trip, another of the Goldman Four, Mr. Berzofsky, prepared a list of due diligence questions. Goldman also prepared a “merger analysis” that predicted the companies’ combined sales per share, earnings per share and total debt under three acquisition scenarios: all cash, all stock and half and half.
In its initial offer, L.& H. proposed paying $580 million, half in cash and half in stock. But the Bakers weren’t sure. News reports had questioned L.& H.’s revenue, particularly in fast-growing Asian markets, as well as some of the company’s licensing deals. Mr. Baker felt that L.& H. had inferior voice technology. But then, he reasoned, if L.& H. could generate so much revenue with lesser technology, imagine what it could do with Dragon.
By mid-February 2000, Ms. Chamberlain had sent an angry memo to Goldman. It urged the bank to move faster in its analysis of L.& H. Talks with the other companies had gone nowhere, and she expected Goldman to “drive” the due diligence process. Mr. Wayner testified later that the bank’s reaction to that memo was “to do as our client asked and to revisit all of our analyses.”
But on Feb. 29, Dragon received an odd memo from Goldman. It wasn’t addressed to anyone in particular at Dragon, and it wasn’t signed by anyone at Goldman. The Goldman Four testified later that they had no idea who had sent it. But the memo referred to many of the same due diligence issues that Ms. Chamberlain raised. The memo asserted, however, that Dragon’s accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, should do the work, not Goldman.
The memo shocked Ms. Chamberlain. She had come to Dragon from Seagate, where she had participated in similar deals. She believed that this sort of thing was generally done by investment bankers, not by accountants. But the moment passed. No one at Dragon or Goldman brought up the mystery memo again — at least not until the lawsuits began flying. (The Bakers also filed suit against other participants in the transaction.)
THE Dragon executives thought that Goldman was taking a hard look at L.& H. After all, Dragon was paying Goldman $5 million for its advice. If Goldman wasn’t conducting due diligence, what was it doing?
“They put items on and off the due diligence list,” Ms. Baker later testified. “We discussed the issues at — at basically every meeting that we were at, and we were meeting often in person or by phone, typically, several times a week in this time frame — sometimes multiple times a day, as we’ve seen. And so they knew what everybody was doing. And they were, they were directing it.”
One of the tasks was a conference call that Mr. Wayner arranged, at Ms. Baker’s request, between Dragon and Charles Elliott, a Goldman analyst in London. Dragon was wondering why L.& H.’s share price had been gyrating wildly. Mr. Wayner told Ms. Baker, he later testified, that Mr. Elliott was following L.& H.’s stock and was up to date on its fluctuations. And Mr. Elliott assured Ms. Baker that investors were worried about the market in general, rather than L.& H. in particular. He also said he expected the stock price of the combined companies to rise substantially once a merger was struck.
Years later, in his deposition, Mr. Elliott told a more complete story. He acknowledged that he actually had not been following L.& H.; that had been the responsibility of another Goldman analyst who had left the firm shortly after the Bakers retained Goldman. After the other analyst left, Mr. Elliott testified, Goldman terminated its coverage of L.& H. No one told the Bakers that Goldman was no longer covering the company they were about to bet their futures on.
Mr. Elliott also testified that he was unaware of press reports at the time that suggested L.& H. was claiming huge revenue gains in Asia. If he had been aware, he said, he would have been “very skeptical” of those gains, given the challenges that Asian languages present for speech recognition. He also acknowledged that it would not have been difficult for him to call up L.& H.’s customers and check the revenue claims.
As the Nasdaq composite index raced toward a record high that March, Dragon’s executives made fateful decisions. On March 8, the Bakers met with L.& H. executives and that company’s advisers from SG Cowen to try to reach a definitive agreement.
A few days before that meeting, Mr. Wayner of Goldman told Ms. Baker that he would be away on vacation and couldn’t make the session. He also said that he would be unable to call in and that it was pointless to send anybody else from Goldman because there wasn’t time to catch up on the deal. It was at this meeting that L.& H. proposed shifting the $580 million deal from half stock and half cash to all stock. The Bakers, with their high-priced investment bankers M.I.A., agreed.
Later, after L.& H. collapsed, Mr. Wayner testified that the bank “did not form a point of view” as to whether an all-stock deal would be risky or advisable for the Bakers. He said he could not remember if it had crossed his mind to warn the Bakers about potential issues with an all-stock deal.
Two weeks after the initial agreement was reached, Mr. Wayner told Ms. Baker that he would be leaving the next day for another vacation. He would not participate in a conference call with L.& H.’s accounting firm, KPMG, that was set up to discuss any open questions about accounting and due diligence. Mr. Berzofsky of Goldman did participate but later acknowledged that he did not raise any concerns. The Bakers say they believed that all issues had been addressed.
Mr. Wayner was still on vacation on March 27, when Dragon’s board met to take a final vote on the proposed acquisition. This time, Mr. Fine and Mr. Smith of Goldman attended the meeting, and Mr. Wayner called in from Argentina. No one from Goldman gave a presentation, but minutes from the meeting, taken by Dragon’s outside lawyers, indicate that the Goldman bankers expressed confidence that the combination of Dragon and L.& H. would produce a market leader. The board voted unanimously to accept the $580 million all-stock deal.
Years later, Mr. Wayner testified that lingering issues of due diligence had never been resolved to his satisfaction. He was asked if he had said as much that March day on the phone from his vacation.
“No, I don’t recall saying that,” he responded.
The deal closed on June 7. By Aug. 8, the merged companies were in crisis amid reports that L.& H. had cooked its books. Reporters for The Wall Street Journal did something the Goldman Four did not: they picked up the phone and called L.& H.’s supposed customers in Asia. They found that companies in South Korea and elsewhere that L.& H. had claimed were its customers weren’t doing any business with it at all. L.& H. had pulled sales figures out of thin air.
Although the Goldman Four never tried to call those customers, it emerged during litigation that other bankers at Goldman had done precisely that — about two years earlier, when Goldman itself considered investing in L.& H. in a plan known internally as Project Sermon. In it, Goldman’s merchant banking division took a closer look at L.& H. — but, apparently, never shared what it knew, and was never asked. Goldman was considering putting $30 million into L.& H., a step that, at the time, might have seemed conceivable, given the hype surrounding L.& H.
“Whenever we invest, we always want to talk to customers,” Luca Velussi, a Goldman analyst who worked on Project Sermon, later testified. Based on what Project Sermon’s team leader, Ramez Sousou, termed “preliminary” due diligence, Goldman declined to invest in L.& H.
By Nov. 29, L.& H. had plunged into bankruptcy. Indictments and convictions followed. L.& H.’s stock price sank to zero — and the Bakers lost everything.
Dragon Systems, the Bakers’ “third child,” was put up for sale at a bankruptcy auction. Visteon acquired some of Dragon’s technology. ScanSoft bought the bulk of it and went on to become a $7 billion giant, with a licensing deal with Apple. (The Bakers believe that some of their technology made its way into Siri.) ScanSoft later acquired — and assumed the name of — Nuance, another voice technology company.
Indeed, Nuance had gone public about the same time L.& H. bought Dragon, and Goldman handled the initial offering — a fact that still angers the Bakers. They say they had no idea Goldman was simultaneously representing their company and a rival.
It wasn’t until after the bankruptcy auction, the Bakers now say, that the full force of what had happened hit them. The money was one thing. But what they really wanted was the opportunity to complete the work they had started decades earlier. As part of the deal with L.& H., they had expected to continue their research. Once L.& H. collapsed, they had held out hope that they might get their technology back — either through litigation or through the bankruptcy auction. They now knew that it wasn’t going to happen.
“The door is closed,” Mr. Baker remembers thinking. “Not only do we not have the technology any more, but we have no chance of getting it back.”
THE Bakers’ case against Goldman is simple. Their lawyer, Alan K. Cotler of Philadelphia, captured it in a single sentence in a motion for summary judgment: “The Goldman Four were unsupervised, inexperienced, incompetent and lazy investment bankers who were put on a transaction that in the scheme of things was small potatoes for Goldman.”
Summarizing Goldman’s defense is more complicated. Based on the firm’s response to the complaint, its motion for summary judgment and testimony of the people it employed, most of that defense falls under one of three rubrics: The Bakers do not have standing to sue. Goldman had no obligation to do a financial analysis of L.& H. And Goldman’s bankers actually performed quite well. The firm released a statement that asserted, “Goldman Sachs was retained as a financial adviser by Dragon Systems, not its shareholders, and performed its assignment satisfactorily in all respects.”
Goldman’s lawyer, John D. Donovan of Ropes & Gray in Boston, has argued that under the terms of the engagement letter, only Dragon Systems had the right to sue, and Dragon no longer exists. Goldman has even filed a countersuit against Ms. Baker, contending that by suing Goldman she had breached the contract. Even though Ms. Baker lost everything in a deal Goldman orchestrated, the firm says Ms. Baker should now pay its legal fees.
To support the argument that Goldman was not obligated to perform due diligence, the firm points to that mystery memo of Feb. 29, 2000 — the memo that no one at Goldman has acknowledged sending — as establishing that Dragon Systems needed to push its accounting firm to explain any red flags or resolve outstanding worries.
Goldman’s lawyers have argued in a motion that while Goldman “strongly urged” Dragon to engage an international accounting firm to do a “forensic accounting analysis on L.& H.,” Ms. Baker “prevented” Dragon from following Goldman’s advice because she did not want to incur the expense of the due diligence and did not want to delay the transaction. The Bakers call this argument “complete fiction,” and even the Goldman Four seem dubious. They testified that Ms. Baker did nothing to block the performance of due diligence.
Goldman also hired an independent investment banker, Ian Fisher, who filed an expert report arguing that Goldman was not obligated to conduct due diligence because Dragon did not order what is known as a fairness opinion, an analysis of the acquisition price.
The Bakers have hired their own expert, Donna Hitscherich, a former investment banker with JPMorgan Chase who lectures at Columbia Business School. She wrote in her expert report that Goldman was obligated to perform due diligence with or without a fairness opinion.
If the case goes to trial in Boston, as scheduled, on Nov. 6, the final argument that Goldman can be expected to make is that the bankers, as Mr. Wayner testified, gave the Bakers “great advice.”
Mr. Berzofsky, too, testified in his deposition that the Goldman Four did a “great job.”
Even though Dragon lost everything?
“Yes,” Mr. Berzofsky said. He was given several opportunities to clarify. And then he was asked one more time — the fact that the Bakers and Dragon’s shareholders lost everything doesn’t affect your opinion?
“Correct,” Mr. Berzofsky responded. “We guided them to a completed transaction.”
- Goldman Sachs and a Sale Gone Horribly Awry (nytimes.com)
- Goldman Sachs and the $580 Million Black Hole (nytimes.com)
- Inventors of Nuance’s Dragon sue Goldman over deal gone bad (bizjournals.com)
- These Cofounders Say Goldman Sachs Owes Them $1 Billion Because It Sold Their $580 Million Company To Fraudsters (GS) (nytimes.com)
- Trust, But Verify. Big Fees Don’t Guarantee Advice That Should Be Followed. Goldman Sachs ‘Deal’ Destroys Couple’s Life’s Work (inelegantinvestor.com)
- The deal’s the thing (brandrepair.typepad.com)
- Goldman Sachs Shares Eyeing The Century Mark Ahead Of Q2 Earnings (seekingalpha.com)
- Why Goldman Sachs Is Worth $200 A Share (seekingalpha.com)
- Goldman Sachs Goes from ‘Muppets’ to Tweets (dailyfinance.com)
- When Corporate Culture Becomes a Public Relations Nightmare (globalcompliance.com)
Scenes from the NATO protesters march downtown
May 19, 2012 7:27PM
A girl watches a line of police officers pass by during an Occupy Chicago march through the Loop Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: May 19, 2012 8:16PM
Scenes from the marches as NATO protesters descend
- One arrested as NATO protesters disperse downtown – Chicago Sun-Times (mbcalyn.com)
- Hotels have reservations about NATO’s profit potential – Chicago Sun-Times (mbcalyn.com)
- Suspects wielding hammers and batons attack diners at Tinley Park restaurant – Chicago Sun-Times (mbcalyn.com)
- Saturday night live: Hundreds of protesters march through Loop, financial district, on Michigan – Chicago Sun-Times (mbcalyn.com)
- You: Three NATO summit protesters face terror charges (france24.com)
- Cubs boss Tom Ricketts works to douse Obama political firestorm – Chicago Sun-Times (mbcalyn.com)
- Thousand join 2nd day of anti-NATO protests in Chicago (EndtheLie.com)
- Three NATO protesters face terror charges: report (dailystar.com.lb)
- Is Chicago now under Martial Law? Evacuation and Blockade of Downtown Chicago (offgridsurvival.com)
- NATO Protesters Arrested in Chicago’s Downtown (abcnews.go.com)
Blog: Some protesters detained as evening march snakes through Loop NATO
10:38 p.m. CDT, May 19, 2012
As President Barack Obama and NATO leaders headed into Chicago this evening, demonstrators marched through the Loop for hours and sometimes scuffled with police officers. Several protesters were detained in the first serious confrontation of the day. Earliler, demonstrators spent the middle of the day outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house protesting cuts in health care. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at Wrigley Field but did not sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
A peck during the protest 10:38 p.m.
Occupy protesters from Boston kiss during an unorganized march near the corner of Jackson and LaSalle in the Chicago Loop Saturday night (William DeShazer/ Chicago Tribune)
Police Superintendent says six arrests Saturday so far 10:24 p.m.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy held an impromptu news conference at Jackson Street and the river. McCarthy said police have made about six arrests, although other protesters may have been detained and then let go.
McCarthy also reacted cautiously to questions about an apparent incident involving a police van that was moving through a crowd of protesters. One protesters was reportedly injured and taken away by ambulance.
Police commanders at the front of the march have been trying to negotiate an end with the protesters, but are frustrated by their inability to find any decision-makers. While their were talking to several young people resting in front of Old St. Pat’s church west of downtown, most of the group got up and headed out again.
The main group of those protesters headed into Greektown.
Jeff Coen and Annie Sweeney
A quiet gesture during the march 10:06 p.m.
A protestor offers a flower to Chicago police standing in front of the Chicago Board of Trade Building. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Wrigley 10:00 p.m.
(Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to the Cubs-Sox game at Wrigley Field Saturday night.
Talk about marchers heading to Grant Park just that — for now 9:54 p.m.
Chicago police block the south end of the Michigan Avenue Bridge as protesters march nearby in the Loop. (Mark Hume/Chicago Tribune)
At one point, a high-ranking officer and a protester talked about getting the march to Grant Park.
“I just don’t want mass arrests,” the protester said.
“I don’t want mass arrests either,” the officer responded.
But there was no indication that the march was headed to the park.
Police say about 5 arrested in Loop march 9:49 p.m.
Police and protesters on Michigan Avenue. (William DeShazer/ Chicago Tribune)
Police say around five people have been arrrested during the Loop march.
The mayor’s office estimated the crowd between 750 and 1,000.
Demonstrators sit in front of Board of Trade 9:24 p.m.
Chicago police wait for NATO protestors at State and Randolph. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Protesters are sitting down in front of Board of Trade building at 141 W. Jackson.
A police bike barricade is lined up to keep protesters away from the building. Police are equipped with helmets and batons.
Loop marchers head into financial district 9:18 p.m.
Marchers head north on Michigan Avenue near Adams. (Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune)
Protesters continued their march into the financial district, as state police officers in helmets and shin guards lined Randolph to keep them from getting too close to the Thompson Center.
One protester tried to pull down a flag, hung on it for a moment as people cheered.
Protesters head west back into Loop 9:04 p.m.
Ben Painter of Minneapolis sits in front of a police line at Congress and Michigan in Chicago as march continued into the evening. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune)
Protesters moved freely up Michigan Avenue, with police shutting down traffic on Randolph.
Before reaching the bridge, the march turned west onto Randolph into the Loop.
Protesters march on Michigan as president lands at Soldier Field 8:48 p.m.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel greets President Obama and wife Michelle on the tarmac at O’Hare Airport on Saturday. (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune)
Police allowed protesters to move north on Michigan Avenue, to the cheers of protesters. Some marched, some ran toward the bridge.
Police have sought all weekend to keep protesters south of the Chicago River, away from the city’s ritziest retail district which also contains the hotels where many of the NATO dignitaries are staying for the weekend.
The clashes between police and protesters came as President Barack Obama and his wife MIchelle landed in their hometown. After touching down aboard Air Force One at O’Hare International Airport, the Obamas and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his wife boarded Marine One for a helicopter ride to Soldier Field, south of where the bulk of protesters were.
Police form blockade, protesters kept in Congress Plaza area 8:37 p.m.
(Matthew Walberg, Chicago Tribune)
Chicago police in riot gear and officers mounted on horses keep protesters, at one point, from continuing to march north on Michigan Avenue near Congress Plaza.
Protesters head north on Michigan Avenue 8:35 p.m.
Chicago Police line up on Washington Street near Wabash Avenue. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)
Police have moved the mounted horses back behind officers, to the cheers of protesters on Michigan Avenue. Protesters have moved forward, and are facing off with officers, chanting for them to let them through so they can march north.
At Michigan and Balbo, police briefly kept protesters from moving forward.
There are police lines on three sides while marchers chant, “Whose streets, our streets.”
A line of police officers is in the southbound lanes of Michigan Avenue.
About 100 feet behind them, about 50 police officers are in full gear, including chest pads and shields down, holding night sticks, standing in front of the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue.
As marchers passed the Blackstone Hotel on Balbo, formally-attired hotel patrons came out on the steps behind police who lined the entrance.
The hotel patrons heckled protesters. That caused some protesters to stop and shout back. Annoyed police officers turned and shouted at the hotel guests to “get back inside.”
Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann
Skirmish over police bike leads officer to use baton on protester 8:01 p.m.
A female protester tried to take a police officer’s bike. An officer grabbed her.
Other protesters came to try to free her, and as the crowd surged toward the officers, at least one officer took out a baton and struck a protester. Some of the crowd is moving now at Balbo and Wabash.
At the back of the march, police mounted on horses were used to advance the crowd.
Growing protesters head south on State Street 7:48 p.m.
Police detain protesters near the corner of Washington and State streets in the Loop during an early evening protest. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune)
The crowd, which has grown in size again, is heading south on State Street and already has crossed Adams Street.
At the front of the march is a police squad car and a group of supervisory officers in white shirts. Other police are on either side of the protest march, keeping demonstrators in the middle of State Street and away from buildings.
Protesters rush, officers on bikes hold 7:41 p.m.
As protesters tried to rush forward through a line of police officers, they knocked over officers and their bicycles. Officers pushed back with their bicycles.
The first serious confrontation of the day came after a group of hundreds of protesters had been marching through the Loop for hours, growing in strength as the evening went on.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is on the scene.
Police detain protesters at State and Washington 7:39 p.m.
Police detained several protesters this evening following a scuffle at State and Washington.
A large crowd tried to push through police lines and police with batons and riot helmets on pushed back.
There is a standoff now with protesters milling around while police form a protective line facing out at the crowd.
Protesters head to Loop 7:28 p.m.
A group of hundreds of protesters made it across the river tonight at Lake Street.
Earlier, as protesters continue to march downtown tonight, a few hundred tried to get ahead of police patrols by sprinting down the street.
They headed north on Jefferson, shouting to other protesters to spread out the protest.
Police officers on bicycles sped down the street to keep up with them.
The protesters grew winded and slowed down.
The protesters have stopped at Fulton and Jefferson.
They’ve started back east on Fulton and are headed toward the Loop.
Matt Walberg, Lolly Bowean
Protesters shout as police block some streets 6:55 p.m.
(Matthew Walberg, Chicago Tribune) Warning: Contains graphic language.
On State Street near 9th Street, police formed a barricade and wouldn’t allow some protesters through. Protesters eventually moved down a different street, and continued winding their way downtown Saturday afternoon.
Police and marchers at 18th and Michigan 6:40 p.m.
Police and marchers meet at 18th Street and Michigan Avenue this afternoon. The demonstrators eventually headed back north.
Restaurant owner laments, ‘No one’s going out.’ 6:13 p.m.
Restaurateur Ina Pinkney posted a 14-second video, “What NATO did to us,” on her Facebook page on Saturday, showing her practically empty dining room.
“It was like this all (Saturday) afternoon,” Pinckney said of her breakfast-lunch spot at 1235 W. Randolph St.
On Friday, “people were taking the day off, treating it like a vacation day, so business was OK,” she said. “This morning there was no start, no energy and then it totally dropped dead.”
“None of the delegations are going out,” she said. “One of our servers does room service at (a downtown luxury hotel), and he says the top delegates are going to special dinners, and the security details are ordering room service. No one’s going out.”
“This whole week has been the quietest ever,” she said.
You can see the video HERE.
Police on bikes hold ground at State and Harrison 6:05 p.m.
Chicago Police officers use their bkes as shields to push away protesters who tried to break through at Harrison and State Street. (Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)
On State Street, a group of about 150 protesters tried to turn west on Harrison Street but were blocked by a group of police officers on bicycles in front of them.
The protesters linked arms and tried to push forward, pushing the police officers’ bikes.
The officers held their ground and did not move. The protesters remain on the street, shouting at police.
Scenes from today’s protest as marchers make their way through Loop 6:03 p.m.
Protesters march through Loop streets as police alternate between blocking traffic to allow them to pass and creating barricades to try to steer demonstrators.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives at Wrigley Field 5:44 p.m.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived at Wrigley Field amid buzz she’ll sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the middle of the 7th inning of tonight’s Cubs-White Soxgame.
Clinton arrived in the secure parking lot on Clark Street north of Addison. The Park Ridge native walked into the park while waving to people who lined the nearby wall shouting her name.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin high-fived some fans as he entered the ballpark from the secure lot.
Police remove one protester, march heads back north 5:44 p.m.
One protester was detained by police at 18th and Michigan Avenue. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune) See video by David Heinzmann of demonstrators complaining to police about the protester’s removal here.
Police removed a protester from the crowd during a confrontation at 18th and Michigan Avenue
The protester struggled with police. Three police officers, including a commander, took him away in handcuffs.
Police are trying to tell the protesters that they can’t go west on 18th Street and Michigan.
This was the most tense the protest has become.
A protester with a microphone told the crowd that demonstrators need to head back north on Michigan Michigan Avenue because police will not allow them to turn down 18th. The crowd reversed direction and headed north.
Police block march at Michigan and 18th 5:23 p.m.
Marchers tried to turn up 18th Street westbound, but police blocked the route.
“Let us through,” chants began anew.
At State and 18th Street, two blocks west, is a Chicago Police Department district headquarters.
Before that, the march turned into more of a walk.
Protesters are slowing down and the chanting has lessened, but the crowd continues to move south on Michigan Avenue.
Demonstrators are further south than the protest march got Friday. If they keep going, they could make it to the intersection leading to the McCormick Place convention center, where world leaders gather Sunday for the first day of their NATO meetings.
Chicago Police Chief Debra Kirby, head of the department’s international relations office, was on the scene to monitor the march.
Asked how far police would let the crowd go, she said “’Til they tire out.”
Earlier, the leading edge of the march passed the Hilton hotel on South Michigan Avenue.
Police on bikes are leap-frogging the march, moving forward to block the middle of the street and keep the protesters in the northbound lanes and away from retail shops. There have been no reports of damage on the street.
Mounted police are at the tail end of the protest.
Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann
Protesters stopped at Congress, call to onlookers 4:54 p.m.
Hundreds of anti-NATO protesters are stopped by police at Michigan and Congress before continuing south on Michigan Ave. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)
Police stopped protesters at Michigan and Congress for several tense minutes, as the crowd pressed forward chanting “let us march.”
After a few minutes, police relented and the march pushed ahead south on Michigan.
Police are carrying clubs, but not wearing helmets.
Police on horses had earlier formed a barricade near Van Buren Street, but protesters walked around them. On Friday, police used a similar tactic to steer protesters into Grant Park
One protester on a bull horn called out, “Stay together, we won’t be turned aside!”
As protesters walked down the street, they called to those on the sidewalk.
“Don’t just film us – join us,” a young woman shouted at spectators lining Michigan and Adams streets.
The woman, who identified herself as Anonymous, said she is frustrated by those who watch but do not participate in the march.
“I feel like the people that are filming us and watching us think we’re ridiculous, but what they should do is join us,” she said.
About 50 protesters who headed downtown from the demonstration at the mayor’s home have now taken to the sidewalks on Dearborn between Randolph and Washington. They are chanting and carrying signs, and made a wide loop through the area. They’re being followed by police officers.
Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann, Matthew Walberg
Protesters from mayor’s neighborhood head south 4:34 p.m.
Photographers document the police in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s North Side home Saturday during a protest targeting the NATO Summit and city health care cuts. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)
Some groups of protesters who marched to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home are now heading on trains to the Loop, trying to join protests aleady in action.
As they rode the Brown Line from Ravenswood to downtown, the protesters swapped stories about their experiences at earlier protests.
They bragged about the media attention they received and getting their photographs taken. One man said he wanted to stop and see the local newspapers and TV broadcasts to see if he was in any of the images.
“Getting through the press was a nightmare,” one woman said.
Protest spread a city block, police stopping traffic 4:26 p.m.
A man suffers what appears to be a seizure during the march. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune)
There are at least a couple hundred protesters spread out over the length of a city block. Dozens of police bike officers are surrounding and trailing the group. As the march heads south on Michigan Avenue police vehicles and bikes are shutting down intersections to allow the march to continue.
There is a call for a medic at Lake and Michigan streets. A man who appears to be a protester is convulsing on the street, in what appears to be a seizure. The crowd is moving past. Police are with the man.
Police turn protesters from Michigan Avenue bridge 4:23 p.m.
As a few hundred protesters approach Michigan Avenue bridge, police are waiting. A three-deep wedge of police bikes is forcing the protesters to move south on Michigan Avenue, away from the bridge leading to the Magnificent Mile shopping.
Police appear to be trying to avoid a repeat of Friday’s march that led to a confrontation in the middle of the bridge. Police kept most protesters out of the city’s premier shopping district.
Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann
NATO-related Amtrak security sweep 4:19 p.m.
Amtrak police K-9 officers do a NATO-related security sweep on a “City of New Orleans” train arriving in south suburban Homewood on Saturday.
Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune
Plaza protest empties into street 4:17 p.m.
After Daley Plaza emptied, a few hundred people marched north down State Street, through the Chicago theater district, walking up both lanes of the street. Police officers on bicycles and on foot escorted them down the street, and some officers tried to get them on sidewalks. Police officers scrambled to keep up as the group approached Wacker Drive.
As the crowd chanted on its way up, Eddie Villareal and his fiance Patty stood bewildered in their wedding attire outside the Chicago Theater taking pictures before their 6 p.m. wedding.
“It’s not what we expected, but it’s pretty exciting,” Patty said as several protesters shouted words of congratulation. “We’re glad to celebrate it with all of you.”
Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann, Matthew Walberg
Downtown protest to support ‘NATO 3′ 3:52 p.m.
Another group of about 400 protesters took to the streets downtown, marching from the city’s financial district to Daley Center plaza. Leaders of the group said they were showing support for three out-of-state men facing state terrorism-related charges.
The protesters conducted a 10-minute silent sitdown in Daley Plaza in sympathy with the men, who are being called the “NATO 3.”
Rick Pearson, Matt Walberg
Protesters move on from North Side 3:30 p.m.
The mental health protesters on the North Side dissipated today, with a few getting on trains to head downtown for a solidarity march in support of three out-of-state menarrested on terrorism conspiracy charges.
After moving on from a spot near Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house, the protesters headed to Lincoln Avenue, Irving Park Road and other nearby streets, sporadically stopping at intersections to sit down.
Jeff Coen, David Kidwell, Lolly Bowean, David Heinzmann
Protesters sit in street near mayor’s home 2:50 p.m.
(David Heinzmann, Chicago Tribune)
Protesters sit in the street near Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home in Ravenswood.
Heightened security in effect for commuters 2:49 p.m.
Amtrak police officer Stan Bailey from Chicago with dog “Riot” boards Amtrak train “Saluki” at Homewood station Saturday. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune)
Trains were stopped for an hour and a half on the Metra Electric District line on the South Side this morning while authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be an empty suitcase, authorities said.
Two inbound trains, numbers 114 and 116, were stopped around 115th Street about 8:20 a.m. while other inbound and outbound trains were halted near 53rd Street as canine units checked the package, according to Metra. Passengers who were waiting on the platform were moved away from the tracks, officials said.
Elsewhere in the Chicago area, the security crackdown implemented for the NATO summit that starts Sunday didn’t seem unduly burdensome on commuters, many said.
Bonnie Miller Rubin, Melissa Jenco and Erin Meyer
Sources: Informants used in probe of protesters 2:48 p.m.
Protesters leave the the Cook County courthouse Saturday following a hearing for the three men arrested in a Bridgeport raid. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)
Two informants were working with Chicago police before officers raided a Bridgeport apartment this week and arrested the men accused of planning to hit President Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house and police stations with molotov cocktails, sources have told the Tribune.
Court documents indicate authorities most likely have recordings of the three men discussing their plans, but the records do not indicate how the audio was obtained.
The men discussed attacking other jurisdictions, planned escape routes and held late-night training sessions for engaging in combat with police, prosecutors said. They also talked about avoiding law-enforcement detection by using electronic surveillance, FBI informants and forensic evidence, according to court documents.
“The city doesn’t know what it’s in for,” an undisclosed defendant is quoted as saying in court records.
Protesters sit down on street outside Emanuel’s house 2:52 p.m.
Activists sit on the street in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s North Side home during a protest targeting the NATO Summit and city health care cuts. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)
Protesters concerned about mental health cuts are stopped near Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house and sitting in the middle of Hermitage Avenue.
They’re chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and “whose street, our street.” There are at least a couple of people with bullhorns getting people to chant.
“Nobody trusts Rahm” and “Healthcare not warfare” are among the signs. News helicopters are hovering overhead.
There are several hundred protesters, though none have made a move toward the mayor’s house.
In front of the house is a police line of bike cops, face shields down. The police have not addressed the crowd in any way.
Some of the protesters have moved on, but about 100 remain close to the mayor’s house. A few are trying to engage a neighbor.
“I need to talk to Rahm about justice and stuff,” one woman yelled. “Your neighbor has killed health care and you still live beside him?”
Jeff Coen, David Kidwell, Lolly Bowean, David Heinzmann
Protest winds through Lincoln Square, Ravenswood 2:19 p.m.
Several hundred protesters marched down Montrose Avenue, spilling into the street and moving around parked cars as police walked with them as they headed towards Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home. (Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune)
Several hundred protesters headed toward the mayor’s house marched down Montrose Avenue, spilling into the street and moving around parked cars as police walked with them on foot.
Drivers watched, some snapping photographs of the crowds, which marched past city parks.
“Whose streets? Our streets!” they shouted.
Parents clutched their small children as the protesters marched by. They lined the fence of the playground and watched.
“Hey Rahm Emanuel! Take your cuts and go to hell!” the crowd shouted. They’re protesting the mayor’s mental health cuts.
Some marched arm in arm, shouting, “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.”
As the crowd approached Damen Avenue, police blocked off traffic. Residents have filed out of the restaurants and apartment buildings and are standing in the sidewalks watching. Some are leaning out their windows others on their balconies and rooftops.
In front of the mayor’s house, a line of bicycle officers just switched their police caps for blue helmets after a commander patted her head. Shields are down. The bikes are used as barricades.
Lolly Bowean, David Heinzmann
: NATO not a war machine 2:14 p.m.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meets with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board today. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune)
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen today said he recognizes the constitutional right for protesters to express themselves, but said demonstrators is wrong when they equate the military alliance to a “war machine.”
“If that’s the basis for the protests, it’s actually based on lack of knowledge. NATO is a peace movement,” Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark, told the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.
“During more than 60 years, NATO has been the bedrock of security in Europe and North America. And thanks to NATO, we have maintained peace and stability in Europe during that long period, since the 2nd World War. It is the longest period of peace in the history of Europe. That’s quite a success. That’s what I call a peace movement,” he said.
Citing NATO’s role in helping to reunify Europe, help develop new democracies after the fall of Communism and actions to protect civilians in Libya, Rasmussen said, “It’s not justified to call NATO a war machine. But again, in a free society, it’s a constitutional right to express yourself — even if your statements are not justified or incorrect or inaccurate.”
NATO protesters rally in support of three arrested on terrorism charges 1:50 p.m.
Attorney Sarah Gelsomino, of the People’s law office, talks with protesters and activists outside the Cook County Courthouse following the hearing for three men charged with a terrorism conspiracy. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune)
Dozens of supporters for the three out-of-state men charged with a terrorism conspiracy gathered outside the courthouse after today’s bond hearing. Many of them came to Chicago from Boston, Cleveland and other parts of the country to protest NATO, they said.
One supporter, who would only identify herself as “Elizabeth” from Asheville, N.C., said she doesn’t know the trio, but sees their arrests as a way for law enforcement to deprive them of their freedom of speech.
“They (the trio) repesent a lot of us because we’re all activists and we all run the risk of being targeted by authority,” she said.
The woman said the arrests allow police to focus attention alleged security threats, taking attention away from human rights issues and other problems.
A group of about 25 supporters separated from the group and marched from the courthouse up California Avenue for several blocks. They carried signs including one that read, “Power to the People” and shouted chants such as, “Up With Tomatoes! Down With NATO!”
One of the protesters, who would only identify himself as “Ben” from Omaha, Neb., said he sympathizes with the Occupy movement.
Although he said he wouldn’t call himself an anarchist, he believes “we have to destroy part of the system.”
Protesters begin march toward mayor’s home 1:37 p.m.
Protesters head from Horner Park to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house. (Alex Garcia/ Chicago Tribune) See video by David Heinzmann here.
Carrying signs and chanting, about 400 protesters began leaving Horner Park on foot, setting off east toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood home.
“Fight! Fight! Cause health care is a human right!” they shouted. They’re upset about the mayor’s closure of mental health clinics.
The marchers made their way through the park, where families were playing with their children.
Seeing marchers approaching, members of the Gordon Tech baseball team and their families scrambled to get out of the way.
“We just won an important game, and we don’t want what they’re doing to interfere with what we’re doing,” a team coach said.
One woman at the park abandoned an effort to buy a hot dog from the field’s snack stand.
“Oh! We can’t get a hot dog. The NATO people are coming,” she said as she fled.
It’s going to be quite a long march. The mayor’s house is about two miles away.
David Heinzmann, Lolly Bowean
Excerpts of charges against NATO protesters 1:01 p.m.
A page from a court “proffer” detailing charges against three men accused of planning to hit police stations, President Obama’s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home with molotov cocktails. Read the full proffer HERE.
Protesters gather in Horner Park 12:51 p.m.
(David Heinzmann, Chicago Tribune)
Several hundred protesters gathered in Horner Park on Chicago’s North Side. Demonstrators planned to march and protest at the mayor’s home in Ravenswood.
Cops: NATO protesters wanted to hit Obama HQ, police stations 12:22 p.m.
Jared Chase, Brent Betterly, Brian Church (Chicago Police)
Three out-of-state men arrested in a Bridgeport apartment raid days before the NATO summit considered hitting President Obama‘s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s house and police stations with “incendiary devices,” according to court documents.
The trio, who are appearing in bond court this afternoon, are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device.
They were ordered held today on $1.5 million bail each.
Protesters gather at Horner Park before mental health march 12:32 p.m.
Jeanette Hanson, 56, wears a hospital gown as she makes her way to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house on Saturday. (Alex Garcia, Chicago Tribune)
About 200 people are gathered at Horner Park to protest Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s mental health clinic closures before they march past his North Side house.
Wearing a hospital gown over her clothes, N’Dana Carter told the crowd that city resources and tax breaks benefitting corporations could be better spent keeping clinics open.
“When Rahm Emanuel says that no taxpayers paid for his $14 million party, he’s lying,” said Carter, a South Side resident who claimed corporations who bankrolled the NATO host committee benefit from their ties to the mayor at the expense of poor people.
Carter said she’s a patient at a mental health clinic that has experienced funding cuts, including the layoff of her own counselor.
As Carter spoke, several police officers arrived at the park to monitor the event.
Jeanette Hanson was among the protesters who gathered to march to the mayor’s home, in part to decry closing of some of the city’s mental health clinics.
Hanson said for years she was treated for manic depression and a form schizophrenia at a mental health clinic six blocks from her South Side home. But when that location was closed, she had to take three buses and a train for a two-hour ride to see her therapist.
As she went door to door in her electric wheelchair on Saturday and then to Horner Park to rally, Hanson admitted the journey was long. But she said she has to fight for her own quality of life.
“What the mayor has done is unjust,” she said. “I shouldn’t be punished just because I have mental health problems.
Diane Adams, 56, said she tried to commit suicide after her son was murdered in 2005. She received counseling and medication from a mental health care center that is now closed.
As she told her story to other protesters at Horner Park, she urged them to contact the mayor and local aldermen and demand that funding for the centers be restored.
“You can find money for everything else but not mental health?” Adams said. “We’re the ones that need it. We’re not invading anyone’s space. We’re not here to upset nobody. We’re here to fight for what we deserve.”
The group plans to march to Emanuel’s house, which is roughly two miles away.
Earlier today, a smaller group of protesters marched through the mayor’s neighborhood and past his house.
Supporters of arrested trio gather outside courthouse 11:50 a.m.
About 30 supporters for the three criminally charged protesters gathered outside the Cook County Criminal Courts building at 26th and California eagerly awaiting the start of today’s bond hearing.
The group talked amongst themselves, texted, snapped a few photos of the gathering and exchanged hugs. One supporter had a sign ready for a planned protest outside the building that read, “NO MORE CORPORATE CONTROL.”
William Vassilakis, who said he hosted the out-of-state trio at his apartment before police arrested them, said he came to the courthouse today to support his friends.
“I’m confident that these charges are bogus,” a subdued Vassilakis said, before declining further comment.
Protesters reach mayor’s home 11:32 a.m.
Police guard Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s North Side home Saturday as a small group of protesters gather to bring attention to mental health cuts. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)
A small group of about two dozen protesters chanted “Rahm Emanuel, Stop the cuts” as they approached the mayor’s home, where numerous police officers on bicycles and in cars were gathered.
Officers were lined shoulder to shoulder in front of the mayor’s house, politely asking protesters to keep moving. There were more neighbors than protesters. Neighbors took in the spectacle with dogs on leashes and children in strollers.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy pulled up in an unmarked black Tahoe. He spoke briefly to command staff and left. Contingents of officers are also stationed blocks away from Emanuel’s home on Paulina Street, at the ready.
Emanuel was scheduled to be elsewhere this morning.
On the way to Emanuel’s house, protesters were high-fived by passing runners.
“Of course, I was at Madison (Street) in the late ’60s” said one neighbor who asked not to be named. “This reminds me of how I used to be … But I still moved my car off the street.”
The protesters have been upset for many months at Emanuel’s cuts to mental healthservices in Chicago.
Police officers have told protesters not to stop at any one home, so the small groups continued marching past Emanuel’s home.
Four officers on bikes have arrived outside the mayor’s house to join the barricade. There are about 12 officers posted outside.
Some protesters from the small group in front of Emanuel’s home have decided to head back to the march’s planned meeting point at California Avenue and Irving Park Road.
As they left, protesters shouted “Rahm. We’ll be back!”
Jeff Coen, David Kidwell, Lolly Bowean
Protesters going door to door in mayor’s neighborhood 10:54 a.m.
Christopher Colon, Chicago, and Angie Pray, Portland, Ore., wear hospital gowns as they go door to door on Saturday morning, canvassing Rahm Emanuel’s neighbors about where they can find mental healthcare since they mayor closed some of the clinics. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)
Protesters are going door to door two blocks south of the Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home passing out leaflets on the closing of mental health clinics in the city. Small groups are attempting to talk to Emanuel’s neighbors personally but haven’t had much success.
Instead they have left their materials tucked in doorways on the quiet street as they move north.
“Healthcare for those in need. Say ‘no’ to corporate greed,” the sheets say, blaming Emanuel for shutting six of the 12 clinics run by the city’s department of public health.
Most of the protesters have scrawled a phone number for their lawyers in marker on their arms in case they are arrested. A group of about 10 crossed Belle Plaine on Hermitage at about 10:45, with about as many reporters and TV news cameras in tow.
Protesters gather in Ravenswood 10:45 a.m.
Patrick Rapacz, 17, of Chicago, heads out to canvas Rahm Emanuel’s neighbors on Saturday morning, asking them where they can find mental health care since the mayor closed some of the clinics. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)
Small groups of protesters have started gathering near the Irving Park Brown Line this morning for a planned march to the mayor’s home. Some are holding signs protesting NATO, and small groups have begun heading down Irving Park Road. Police are gathering nearby.
Jeff Coen, Lolly Bowean
Empty suitcase halts Metra Electric trains 10:13 a.m.
Scene at 56th Street near the scene where a suspicious package is being investigated. (José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune)
Trains were stopped for an hour and a half on the Metra Electric District line on the South Side this morning while authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be an empty suitcase, authorities said.
Two inbound trains, numbers 114 and 116, were stopped around 115th Street about 8:20 a.m. while other inbound and outbound trains were halted near 53rd Street as canine units checked the package, according to Metra.
Passengers who were waiting on the platform were moved away from the tracks, officials said.
Police cleared the scene at 10 a.m., Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Michael Sullivan said. The suspicious package was an empty suitcase, he said.
Tom Mahlum said police stopped him from getting to his hair salon because of a suspicious package they found. He said about two dozen police cars were at the scene. Police cordoned off the area between Blackstone and Stony Island avenues along 57th Street, he said.
Uncle shocked by terrorism charges: ‘It’s really not his style’ 9:40 a.m.
Jared Chase Facebook photo
One of the men facing terrorism charges after arrests in Bridgeport had quit his job as a cook last fall to join the Occupy movement, his uncle said today.
“He can be confrontational,” Michael Chase said of his 24-year-old nephew, Jared Chase. “If he’s pressed, he tends to lash out. I really can’t envision him doing this on his own, coming up with an idea to do something that radical.”
Chase and two other men in their 20s are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device, their attorney and police said early Saturday.
The arrests were the result of a month-long investigation into a group suspected of making Molotov cocktails — crude bombs usually created by filling glass bottles with gasoline, according to law enforcement sources and police records obtained by the Tribune.
Michael Chase said he was shocked by the charges.
“I’m not surprised that he’s in the protest movement because he’s been with it for awhile, but it’s a whole different aspect when you start talking about committing acts of terror using anything, and it’s really not his style,” Michael Chase said. “He’s had brushes with the law in the past and bumping heads with the police and so forth.
“It would not surprise me if during an arrest he was charged with resisting arrest, but it’s shocking to me that he would be charged with planning to commit an act of terror using any kind of device that would create the kind of havoc that a Molotov cocktail (would cause).”
Jared Chase lived in a tent for a time after joining Occupy and traveled with other members of the movement to Rhode Island, Washington, D.C. and Miami before arriving in Chicago last month, his uncle said.
Jared Chase was not politically active before joining Occupy, so his decision to leave his job for the movement came as a surprise, his uncle said.
“He wasn’t involved in any of that stuff before,” his uncle said. “He complained about the economy like everybody else, but certainly he wasn’t active about doing anything about it. I was a little surprised because he obviously had to quit his job to spend time in the tent, so to speak, and I had to give him a hard time because I thought that was the wrong move.”
Michael Chase said his nephew had mentioned one of the other suspects, Brian Church, in recent phone conversations, but not the other suspect, Brent Betterly.
Chase’s Facebook page, verified by his uncle, includes a link to a news story about a May Day protest in Chicago with a photo of protesters blocking the entrance to a bank in the Loop. Chase writes on the page that he is pictured in the photo.
In another post, Chase writes that the building where he was staying in Miami with other Occupy members was raided by the FBI and police. The post says he was the only person put in a police car and ends with, “(expletive) you pigs.”
Bikes, strollers navigate security along the lake 9:07 a.m.
Ashaun Thomas, 19, is snifed by an Amtrak police dog before boarding the “City Of New Orleans” that will be stopping in Homewood on Saturday morning. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune)
Megan Zehel and Mike Chorvat found their customary bike ride down the southern section of the Lakeshore Trail was interrupted by NATO security measures early Saturday morning.
A line of city snow plow trucks parked along Balbo Drive from the Lakeshore Trail nearly toMichigan Avenue blocked roads and pathways into the south end of Grant Park.
Some joggers and cyclists passed the trucks at the shoreline, and a few people could be seen walking their dogs or pushing strollers in the area beyond the blockade, but heavy steel fencing barred entrance to the museum campus and the trails leading to the south side.
Zehel and Chorvat chose to turn around at Balbo and try their luck on the north end of the trail, a section they normally avoid because it is normally more crowded.
“It will be busier, for sure, with everyone being directed that way,” Zehel said.
Neither felt the NATO summit was worth the hassle.
“Michigan Avenue was blocked yesterday,” Zehel said. ” There were thousands of people marching, just a bunch of stinky hippies marching.”
She said she was told by her employer to take the day off work on Monday, which she said was “fun, but not very productive.”
3 men face terrorism charges after arrests 8:25 a.m.
Attorney Sarah Gelsomino talks with Robert LaMorte, 21, outside the police station at Harrison and Kedzie after LaMorte was released on Friday night. (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)
Three out-of-state men arrested in a Bridgeport apartment raid days before the NATO summit were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device, their attorney and police said early Saturday.
The arrests were the result of a month-long investigation into a group suspected of making Molotov cocktails — crude bombs usually created by filling glass bottles with gasoline, according to law enforcement sources and police records obtained by the Tribune.
But the National Lawyers Guild, which is representing the men, said they were simplyNATO protesters who had beer-making equipment when the apartment they were staying at was raided overnight Wednesday.
The men also were in a car that was stopped by police a week ago, leading to a YouTube video of the stop that has prompted protesters to complain Chicago Police were harassing the occupants, said Sarah Gelsomino, a lawyer with the guild.
Restrictions kick in: Metra crackdown, parking bans, road closings 8:17 a.m.
The sun rises over protesters outside of Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ on Saturday morning. (William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune)
The streets bordering Wrigley Field will be off-limits to traffic Saturday night and an expanded stretch of Lake Shore Drive will close for seven hours on Sunday as part of extra security for NATO summit dignitaries, officials said Friday.
The new road closings and inconveniences are in addition to extensive changes previously announced — widespread parking bans, CTA bus reroutes, a Metra crackdown on what passengers can carry on board and even restrictions on pedestrians and bicyclists.
It’s all aimed at creating a larger security bubble for visiting world leaders.
The rich are different; they get richer
By Harold Meyerson, Published: March 27
Occupy Wall Street is not known for the precision of its economic analysis, but new research on income distribution in the United States shows that the group’s sloganeering provides a stunningly accurate picture of the economy. In 2010, according to a study published this month by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez, 93 percent of income growth went to the wealthiest 1 percent of American households, while everyone else divvied up the 7 percent that was left over. Put another way: The most fundamental characteristic of the U.S. economy today is the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent.
It was not ever thus. In the recovery that followed the downturn of the early 1990s, the wealthiest 1 percent captured 45 percent of the nation’s income growth. In the recovery that followed the dot-com bust 10 years ago, Saez noted, 65 percent of the income growth went to the top 1 percent. This time around, it’s reached 93 percent — a level so high it shakes the foundations of the entire American project.919
While never putting a premium on economic equality, America has always prided itself on being the preeminent land of economic opportunity. If all of this nation’s wealth is captured by a narrow stratum of the very rich, however, that claim is relegated to history’s dustbin. Research byJulia Isaacs of the Brookings Institution, as part of the Economic Mobility Project, has shown that intergenerational mobility in the United States has fallen far below the levels in Germany, Finland, Denmark and other more social democratic nations of Northern Europe. Now, Saez’s analysis of income data provides further evidence that mocks America’s self-image as a land where hard work yields rewards.
How has the top 1 percent been able to decouple itself from the nation beneath it? To begin, much of its income comes from investments in funds and firms that are raking in profits from overseas ventures in economies like China’s, which weathered the downturn better than ours. Much of those firms’ profits also derive from their reduced labor costs — the result of layoffs and paycuts. Finally, as Saez points out, there has been “an explosion of top wages and salaries” since 1970. In that year, 5.1 percent of all wages and salaries paid in the United States went to the wealthiest 1 percent. In 2007, the share going to the wealthiest 1 percent had more than doubled, to 12.4 percent.
The consequences of this concentration of wealth and income extend beyond the purely economic. A middle class enduring prolonged stagnation isn’t likely to fund projects the nation needs to undertake — such as rebuilding our infrastructure or increasing teacher pay — or, ultimately, to retain its faith in the efficacy of democracy. The rise of super PACs, the low rates of taxation on capital gains and hedge fund operators, the ability of the major banks to fend off reform — all testify to the power of a neo-plutocracy beyond democratic control.
Most proposals to restore a modicum of balance to the American economy focus on making the tax code more progressive. Raising the tax on investments to the level of the tax on wages, for instance, and increasing the inheritance tax would help start reconstruction of a more viable economy.
But changes to the tax code, indispensable though they would be, aren’t remotely sufficient to the challenge of restoring the broadly shared prosperity that Americans enjoyed in the mid-20th century. That would require changing some laws to give stockholders and other corporate stakeholders the power to diminish the share of corporate revenue routinely claimed these days by top executives — at the expense of everyone else. It would require revitalizing unions. David Madland and Nick Bunker of the Center for American Progressrecently found that in 1968, when 28 percent of the workforce was unionized, 53 percent of the nation’s income went to the middle class. In 2010, when 11.9 percent of the nation’s workers were unionized, the share claimed by the middle class had fallen to 46.5 percent.
Capitalism can create prosperity, but left unfettered it doesn’t create broadly shared prosperity — and never will. If belief and participation in democracy are sustained by people’s conviction that democracy produces good economic outcomes, then the growing concentration of wealth and income in the United States is a long-term threat to everything we profess to stand for. A nation where 93 percent of income growth goes to the top 1 percent is not a nation that will embark on great projects, or long command the allegiance of its people.
- Concentrated wealth is a long-term threat to America – The Washington Post (jdeanicite.typepad.com)
- How The 1 Percent And The 99 Percent Are Doing, In 1 Table (npr.org)
- Recovery Leaves 99 Percent Poorer (reason.com)
- The 1% collects 93% of the ‘recovery’ (dailykos.com)
- The Widening Wealth Divide, and Why We Need a Surcharge on the Super Wealthy (alternet.org)
- The Widening Wealth Divide, and Why We Need a Surtax on the Super Wealthy (robertreich.org)
- Johnston: The 10% Get Richer, the 90% Get Poorer (taxprof.typepad.com)
- The 1% Captures Most Growth From Recovery (blogs.wsj.com)
- Why We Need a Surtax on the Super Wealthy (wallstreetpit.com)
- Will the Banksters and the Corpocracy Eventually Own it All? (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
‘I Like Your Pluck!’ Says Gracious Plutocrat
NOVEMBER 15, 2011
NEW YORK—Saying the recently arrested protesters had just the right kind of tenacity and pluck needed to shake up the financial services industry, magnanimous and benevolent Morgan Stanley banker Hank Billings approached members of the Occupy Wall Street movement Tuesday morning and hired each and every one of them on the spot. “This is exactly the kind of self-starting, ‘won’t go home till the job’s done’ kind of attitude I like to see,” said the gracious Billings, claiming that he had grown to admire “the cut of [the activists'] jib” since the movement began in mid-September and that “moxie such as [theirs]” should not go unrewarded. “You all were out there every day, giving it everything you had, and by God if you ever took no for an answer. Sure, you all took some digs at me, but who needs a bunch of yes-men standing around, anyway?” Billings then reportedly smiled, shook each protester’s hand, and said he would see them all in the office “bright and early Monday morning,” noting that a personal history of lawbreaking had never hindered anyone’s career on Wall Street.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt Joins Bryce Dallas Howard For a Screening, Then Occupies Wall Street (popsugar.com)
- Obama-Endorsed #OWS Occupy Wall Street Blocks/Bans Press (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Wall Street Protesters Now Occupy an Office [Occupy Wall Street] (gawker.com)
- The Loyal Opposition: The Next Step for Occupy Wall Street (loyalopposition.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Harry Reid Channels Occupy Wall Street In GOP Attack (huffingtonpost.com)
- Daniel Dicker: The Koch Brothers and MF Global – Friends to the End (huffingtonpost.com)
- Nash & Crosby React To Occupy Wall Street Developments (wncx.radio.com)
- “Perhaps the protesters occupying Wall Street are not so misguided after all. The questions they…” (underpaidgenius.com)
- New Poll Shows Occupy Wall Street Protests Waning In Popularity (mediaite.com)
- Reiterating Occupy Changes (asecondcup.wordpress.com)
By Barry Sloane, Published: November 12
The tea party is a very simple expression of a desire for smaller government. Occupy Wall Street is more of an emotional outburst and reaction.
If you throw out the fringe commentary, what they’re both really angry about is that there haven’t been any consequences for taking bad credit risks and for bad behavior. They feel victimized by Wall Street and the federal government.
The one common denominator between the two is not liking the bank bailout — in actuality, the bank bailout was actually a good thing, but the government failed to penalize the shareholders and bondholders. The taxpayers should have owned the companies and the government should have taken ownership of the companies for a limited period of time. In the real world, if you can’t pay your bills, you go bankrupt.
What small business owners should do as a voting block and a lobbying block is to continue to push for smaller government and getting the money out of politics.
The reason for this inequity occurring is because of special interests. You had government picking who the winners and the losers were. The tea party’s interest and solution is the best solution for Occupy Wall Street. There are some Occupiers who want entitlements — but I think at the bottom line, people are mad that Wall Street got bailed out, and they are correct.
If you look at all of the ills of the economy — they’ve all been created by quasi public and private entities. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are quasi public and private entities — they’ve driven up the cost of education. In every instance, there’s a bubble, and it burst.
Small businesses should continue to reduce their debt, reduce their leverage, reduce their consumption and put more dollars into investment and savings.
Our economy is way overbalanced in terms of consumption versus savings and investments. They should be making investments in their own businesses, better computer hardware and software — the one area where you’re getting cost reduction is through technology. Investing in cloud computing and things like that are where small businesses can get efficiencies.
Barry Sloane is chairman and chief executive of Newtek Business Services in New York.
- Paul Ryan’s frown should make Democrats smile – The Washington Post (mbcalyn.com)
- Asher Smith: What Distinguishes Occupy Wall Street From the Tea Party? Follow the Money (huffingtonpost.com)
- Occupy Wall Street: The tea party of the left? – CNN.com (mbcalyn.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party: Is There a Bridge Over America’s Troubled Waters? (huffingtonpost.com)
- #OccupyWallSt Roundup, Day 56 (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)
- You: Occupy the Highway: The immense pain of walking from New York to Washington – Washington Post (blog) (washingtonpost.com)
- Americans Favor Protesters Over Wall Street, Washington (huffingtonpost.com)
- Occupy Wall Street – Of Course Obama is OK With it – It’s Just More Alinsky (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Occupy Wall Street or Occupy a Small Business? (hiscoxusa.com)
- Herman Cain Believes Occupy Wall Street is a Pro-Obama Conspiracy (timesunion.com)
By Gianna Palmer | McClatchy Newspapers
NEW YORK — In the latest round of demonstrations calling for corporate accountability, 16 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested in front of the global headquarters of Goldman Sachs in lower Manhattan.
A New York Police Department spokesperson confirmed that nine men and seven women were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
The protest began with a mock trial of the giant investment firm at 10 a.m. in Zuccotti Park, the protesters’ base. During “A People’s Hearing of Goldman Sachs,” a group gathered to hear testimony from people who shared stories of how they were directly affected by Goldman Sachs’ influence on financial markets. Civil rights activist and Princeton professor Cornel West also spoke at the panel, as did journalists Chris Hedges and Nomi Prins.
A five-month McClatchy investigation in 2009 revealed how Goldman Sachs peddled billions of dollars in shaky securities tied to subprime mortgages on unsuspecting pension funds, insurance companies and other investors when it concluded that the housing bubble would burst.
Shortly before noon, the protesters began to make their way to 200 West St., Goldman’s headquarters.
“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” the protesters chanted as they walked. Some drummed, other held signs. One protester held a piece of cardboard that read simply, “GREED.” Another said: “Goldman Sucks.”
Police with plastic handcuffs dangling from their belts walked alongside the demonstrators as they marched north on Church Street, past the National September 11 Memorial. The group arrived at the Goldman Sachs building just before 12:30 p.m.
At least 19 police offers stood on the pedestrian walkway watching as protesters blocked the front entrance of the building and delivered their “guilty” verdict. Soon, a white-shirted police officer entered the crowd with a megaphone and asked the protesters to leave. By this time, a small group had sat in a circle on the ground.
“You will be arrested, I repeat, you will be arrested,” the officer told the group when they stayed sitting, arms linked.
The majority of people moved to a nearby walkway.
“We stopped listening to orders, when will you?” a man shouted in the direction of the police, who were now gathered around the remaining group, all of whom would be arrested.
Among the first was activist Bill Talen, commonly known as Reverend Billy — an activist actor who was led away in plastic cuffs. The arrests were largely a nonviolent affair, though some protesters struggled as the officers picked them up by their hands and feet.
“First Amendment rights, First Amendment rights,” one woman shouted as she was handcuffed and led away to nearby police vans.
By 1 p.m., all of protesters in front of the Goldman Sachs entrance had been arrested. The same white-shirted officer then warned the remaining crowd of protesters that they were obstructing pedestrian and vehicular traffic and would be subject to arrest if they stayed.
The crowd slowly marched away, as a handful of employees in the Goldman Sachs building stood by the windows watching the protesters from several floors up. Police on foot and on motorcycles followed the group back to Zuccotti Park.
“The police as an institution are in a position where they’re protecting the real criminals, the people who are responsible for the economic state of the world right now,” said Zack Rosen, 22, as he was leaving Goldman Sachs headquarters. Rosen, who was previously arrested in another Occupy Wall Street protest, said he thought the demonstration “went great.”
- OWS: Chris Hedges, Rev. Billy and other protesters arrested at Goldman Sachs (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Here’s What Happened Today When At Least 15 People Got Arrested Outside Of Goldman (GS) (businessinsider.com)
- #OccupyWallSt Roundup, Day 48 (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)
- A Letter by Goldman Sachs RE: Investing on Occupy Wall Street (michellesantos.wordpress.com)
- Latest developments in the Occupy protests (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Goldman Sachs Tries Tries To Shut Down Occupy Wall Street: A Greg Palast Investigation (newsworldwide.wordpress.com)
- NYC mayor becoming more critical of “Occupy” (cbsnews.com)
- Goldman Sachs and the Criminal Charges (trenhoteleuropa.wordpress.com)
- Occupy protesters lament violence in Oakland (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Oakland erupts into violence as demonstrators shut down port (independent.co.uk)
It’s hard to hate these occupiers
By Harold Meyerson, Published: October 20
By the hoary conventions of American politics, Americans should fear and loathe Occupy Wall Street. The occupiers are vaguely countercultural, counterculturally vague. They are noisy. They are radical. They offer no solutions, though they are prey to the damnedest ideas. (Anti-consumerism! Anti-leaderism!) They are an extra-parliamentary menace, mocking the very possibility of liberal reform. They are anarchists or, worse, McGovernites. Some of them appear genuinely nuts. For all these reasons and a hundred more, real Americans should hate their guts.
And yet, they don’t. Despite the best efforts of trained pundits, working feverishly to convince the public that these are not people you’d want running the republic or dropping by for lunch, Americans seem remarkably unperturbed by the menace of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, the majority supports the protesters. According to a National Journal poll, 59 percent of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street, while 31 percent disagree — a level of support comparable to that found by a Time magazine survey last week. The Post’s Greg Sargent has thoughtfully broken down the data and found that the group that should resent the occupiers most — working-class whites — doesn’t resent them any more than anyone else does. In the National Journal poll, 56 percent of non-college-educated whites back the demonstrators, though the right-wing media continually depict them as trust-fund babies gone wild.442
In the strange case of Occupy Wall Street, none of the usual cultural signifiers by which we’ve been conditioned to hate one another seems to be working. Where have you gone, Archie Bunker? What gives?
What gives, I suspect, is that most Americans don’t particularly care what the demonstrators in downtown New York and other cities look like or believe in. They’re not interested in the demonstrators’ attempt to build a movement prefigurative of a radically consensual society (which could end up just as gridlocked as the U.S. Senate). What they care about is that the demonstrators are confronting unmerited power and unearned wealth. They are taking on the banks.
For good, historically specific reasons, everybody hates the banks. Even New Yorkers, whose economy depends on the bankers’ ability to pay for overpriced amenities, hate the banks. In a Quinnipiac University poll this week, New York City voters supported Occupy Wall Street by a 67-percent-to-23-percent margin. Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is a profiteer without honor in his own home town.
Whence this fall — if not from grace (a state that few of us, and even fewer bankers, attain), then from the occasional decent opinion of humankind? At its root is the simple fact that the Wall Street banks over the past quarter-century have done none of the things that a financial sector should do. They have not helped preserve the thriving economy that America once enjoyed. They have not funded our boldest new companies. (That’s fallen to venture capitalists.) They haven’t provided the financing to maintain our infrastructure, nor ponied up the capital for manufacturing to modernize and grow here (as opposed to in China). Instead, they’ve grown fat on the credit they extended when Americans’ incomes stopped rising. They’ve grown plump on proprietary trading and by selling bad deals to suckers. (Citigroup, likeGoldman before it, just agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle charges that it defrauded investors.)
The original J.P. Morgan was hardly a beloved figure. But in the course of attending to his business, he helped form the American economy. He consolidated railroads, cobbled together the companies that became U.S. Steel and General Electric. In pursuit of profit, he helped build the country. By no stretch of the imagination is that what today’s Wall Street is about. The country isn’t being built; no one’s been building it for the past 30 years. Wall Street’s interests are elsewhere, in realizing huge profits and bonuses for arbitrage and paper-swapping that has brought little but debt and ruin to the larger economy.
So Occupy Wall Street espouses a fuzzy radicalism? That’s fine. At its best, American radicalism kick-starts an era of liberal reform, to which, as in the ’30s and ’60s, its zeal is essential. At its worst, that radicalism can hinder those reforms by itself becoming an object of public ire. But Occupy Wall Street, all our assumptions about cultural polarization to the contrary, isn’t an object of ire. It’s channeling ire — our ire — where ire should go: toward the banks that have fostered and profited from America’s decline.
- It’s hard to hate these occupiers (talkingunion.wordpress.com)
- NYPD Blames Occupy Wall Street for a Jump in Gun Crimes (neatorama.com)
- Occupy Wall Street Plans March And “Aerial Demonstration” For Oakland (timesunion.com)
- Occupy Wall Street Or Halloween: Can You Spot The Difference? (buzzfeed.com)
- Ben & Jerry’s “Occupy Wall Street” (247wallst.com)
- Occupy Seattle vs. Occupy Wall Street (delong.typepad.com)
- Loved this Fresh Pressed Story about Occupy Wall Street (greenlifegirl.wordpress.com)
- Conservative Filmmaker Allegedly Passes Out Bongs To Occupy Wall Street Protesters (mediaite.com)
- Occupy Wall Street, five days before Halloween (thebeardedblogger.wordpress.com)
- New Target for ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Critics: Media (americanpeoplesplatformblog.com)