I was walking around Zuccotti Park and the surrounding area today, to get a feel for what's happening with the Occupy Wall Street protest. It was educational, in a number of ways. I took several pictures along the way of various things that stuck out at me: The black flags of anarchists, the sign advertising a website titled “SocialistAlternative.org,” the guitar-playing Arab, the “We Shall Overcome” chorus, and the kid with a bandana who I overheard saying “Celebrating America is celebrating genocide and corporate exploitation.”
I left and visited the 9/11 Memorial, Having gotten a ticket up at the office on Vesey Street, and then walked down to the entrance on Albany Street. I walked through the garden, listened to the waterfalls of the reflecting pools, and found the name of a friend at the North Pool. His name was along the east side of the pool, and a strong wind from the west was blowing spray in my face as I tried to take a picture of it. I couldn’t help thinking my friend was messing with me.
Later, I walked around the protest site and north to catch the A train. It was then that I realized that the failing of the OWS protest, why it will really not matter in the long run, can be explained not by economics, or even politics, but by geography.
Non-New Yorkers may not be aware of this, but across Broadway from the park, and on the other side of the Brown Brothers Harriman building, is the NYC headquarters of JP MORGAN CHASE BANK.
I’m sorry; did I not type that clearly???? The headquarters of one of the largest banks in the world, Chase, is LESS THAN A HUNDRED FREAKING METERS from these protesters!!!! And yet, not a single protester is shouting within sight of the building, despite the fact that there's a large, spacious terrace-and-patio PARK surrounding it!!!! You know, the one with those ugly black and white "tree" sculptures??? You could probably fit more people in there than in Zuccotti!!!
Oh, and just for good measure, you want to know what’s across the street from Chase? THE GODDAMNED FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK!!!!! I wonder if that guy holding the “Audit the Fed” sign was aware of that, or if he just preferred to stay where the cameras are.
But then, perhaps the reason they're not picketing over by these places is because the park has been fenced off, barricaded, and is patrolled by a battalion's worth of cops. Walking past it this evening, I was impressed by the presence, when the "action" was actually a block away. Clearly, the city and/or Chase decided to keep anything from happening on their turf, and the protesters are either too dumb to realize who is on the other side of the building with the big orange cube in front of it, or they don't want to risk being arrested by walking across the street.
And that's kind of it in a nutshell: These people, despite the black anarchist flags and the socialist web site signs, are not revolutionaries. They want attention, not confrontation. Glenn Beck is as dumb as a fence post if he's comparing these people to the French Revolution. Revolutions happen when people are so pissed off at the status quo that to die trying to change it is preferable to continuing to live under it. If these people are going to let some cops eating in vans and portable fencing keep them away from one of the biggest of the 'big banks', they are clearly not at that point.
Memo to the Mayor: Leave them alone, Mike. It’s mid-October; in another month, when the frost comes, they’ll leave willingly, without the bad press of evicting them. They’re a minor nuisance, nothing more.