Occupy Wall Street may have gone global, but its having a local impact, too, according to a small but vocal group of local residents and business owners. They say the movement is having adverse effects on their neighborhood--and want something done.
Arriving at City Hall at 5 p.m. to express their dissatisfaction with Occupy Wall Street, a half-dozen protesters-against-the-protesters called on Mayor Bloomberg and his administration to remove the OWS movement from Zuccotti Park. Business owners have complained that the tactics they have employed are hurting their profits--even putting their livelihoods in peril.
Our business went down by 30 percent, said Marc Epstein, 53. Epstein owns the owner of the Milk Street Café of 40 Wall Street. The Milk Street Café opened on June 23. Epstein said that his business was performing well.
Sales kept going up and costs kept going down. It looked like we had a winner, said Epstein.
Business Owners Suffer
However, once the protests began in Lower Manhattan, Epstein saw a dramatic decrease in his profits.
It's like they cut your legs from underneath you, he said. I have lost 25 jobs already. We hired 100 people.
In recent weeks, there have been other protests and rallies by investment bankers against the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Other protesters reacted angrily to Mayor Bloomberg inaction to the protests.
He should have done something three weeks ago. Every day he doesn't act is not just disappointing, it is a case of him being a failure, said Jeremy Madden, 35. He knows if he can keep this downtown they won't come to Gracie Mansion.
Madden went to City Hall to support his friend, a small business owner, who is losing profits due to the protests. Madden spoke very critically of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and their tactics.
This is how taxpayers show their freedom of speech. They do it in a very organized and civil manner. Those petulant little brats down there want altercations, they want aggravations.
All along Lower Manhattan, the police have put up barricades in order to prevent the sporadic marches from the Occupy Wall Street movement from spreading.
Epstein, while not giving his opinion about the message of the protest, cited his discontent with the way the protesters are acting.
They will not share with the police. When they get up and march they won't tell them where they are going. The police have no choice but to put up barricades, he said. Frankly, after two months of behaving the way they are, I think they should leave lower Manhattan.
Epstein added that protesting and drumming in a neighborhood park will not create jobs. It is the entrepreneurs who create jobs.
Occupy Wall Street Responds
It seems like there is a myth perpetuated that all merchants are being damaged by the protest, said Eric Lazarus, 50.
Lazarus is a resident of the West Village and regular Occupier at Zuccotti Park. He arrived at the rally in order to show support for the Occupy Wall Street movement and refutes the claims that Occupy Wall Street is to blame for the business owners' loss.
It's unfair to blame us for the police decisions, he said, referring to the police barricades.
Lazarus says that the Occupiers often work with merchants in order to make sure they are not impeded their business. He continued to say that they even set up an e-mail account and phone service for business owners if they are facing any problems.
We try to problem solve with the person depending on who it is, said Lazarus.
Nathan Stueve, 32, agreed with Lazarus. Stueve is also an Occupier who said that Occupy Wall Street attempts to solve any problem that a business owner might have.
We have a working relationship with business owners, he said.
Still, this doesn't sit well with Epstein, who does not blame police nor the city government for his decline in business. He believes if something is not done quickly, he may lose his business and cost New Yorkers more jobs.
The tactics of what has been going on in here in Lower Manhattan has to change and things have to get back to normal.