The protesters who have been camping out in Manhattan’s Financial District for more than two weeks eat donated food and keep their laptops running with a portable gas-powered generator. They have a newspaper — the Occupied Wall Street Journal — and a makeshift hospital.
They lack a clear objective, though they speak against corporate greed, social inequality, global climate change and other concerns. But they’re growing in numbers, getting more organized and showing no sign of quitting.
City officials “thought we were going to leave, and we haven’t left,” 19-year-old protester Kira Moyer-Sims said. “We’re going to stay as long as we can.”
The arrests of more than 700 people on Saturday as thousands tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge seemed to pour oil on the rage of those who camped out overnight in Zuccotti Park, a private plaza off Broadway near Wall Street.
The growing, cross-country movement “signals a shift in consciousness,” said Jared Schy, a young man sitting squeezed between three others who participated in Saturday’s march from Manhattan’s Financial District to the bridge.
“We don’t care whether mainstream media covers this or people see us on television. What counts are the more than 30,000 viewers following our online live stream,” he said. “We heard from a lot of them, and they’re joining us now!”
The Occupy Wall Street demonstration started out last month with fewer than a dozen college students spending days and nights in Zuccotti Park. It has grown significantly, both in New York City and elsewhere as people across the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, display their solidarity in similar protests.
Moyer-Sims, of Portland, Ore., said the group has grown much more organized. “We have a protocol for most things,” she said, including getting legal help for people who are arrested.
The protest has drawn activists of diverse ages and occupations, including Jackie Fellner, a marketing manager from Westchester County.
“We’re not here to take down Wall Street. It’s not poor against rich. It’s about big money dictating which politicians get elected and what programs get funded,” she said.
On Sunday, a group of New York public school teachers sat in the plaza, including Denise Martinez of Brooklyn. Most students at her school live at or below the poverty level, and her classes are jammed with up to about 50 students.
“These are America’s future workers, and what’s trickling down to them are the problems — the unemployment, the crime,” she said. She blamed Wall Street for causing the country’s financial problems and said it needed to do more to solve them.
Police officers have been a regular sight at the plaza, but NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the protest has not led the department to assign additional officers to the area. The department won’t change its approach to handling the protest and will continue regular patrols and monitoring, he said.