Their goal was this: 'Move in' and Occupy Wall Street for a little bit, flood lower Manhattan with peaceful protestors and fill it with bedding and kitchens and demonstration signs. Their motive was to show that 'We the 99% are fed up with the greed and corruption of the 1%.
The impetus propelling them forward is a disdain for corporate greed, repeated bail outs, tax breaks for the 1 percent, terrible government policy, and the corruption of the Federal Reserve. Initially, the call was for 20,000 people to descend onto Wall Street and occupy it for an indeterminable amount of time, but while there are significantly less than 20,000 in New York, Occupy offshoots have begun to spring up across the country.
Nearly 200 San Franciscans surrounded the Bank of America building in the center of the Financial District Thursday afternoon, rallying against the aforementioned bank bailouts, and yelling Why is life a bitch? Cause we don't tax the rich!
The protest, at the start, was peaceful, and included families, children, dogs and music, The Huffington Post reported. Mayoral candidate and city Supervisor John Avalos opened the march with a speech attacking big banks.
Have you ever felt like you've been had? he asked the crowd. That's why this building right here is a symbol of the incredible greed and wealth that has accumulated into fewer and fewer hands.
And how do they stay wealthy? They took our tax dollars, Avalos continued. They got bailed out. He then urged the crowd to withdraw their money from national banks and invest in small, community-like banks.
The demonstrators marched down Montgomery Street to Charles Schwab, surrounding the building and baffling employees inside, and again, chanting, Charles Schwab, give us our money back and Who bailed the banks out? We bailed the banks out.
The San Francisco crowd ended the day at a Chase Bank on Market Street, where, reportedly, tensions began to rise; six demonstrators walked into the branch and staged a sit-in in the lobby. They were arrested, and eventually released, after they refused requests to leave.
Occupy Wall Street official began Sept. 17 in a park in downtown Manhattan.
The movement, which is an offshoot of online magazine AdBusters, is angered by what it calls the principle of profit over and above all else. This, they say, has dominated America's economic policies and the way in which Americans view culture and humanity.
Posts on the Web site compare the group's efforts to those used in pro-democracy movements across the Middle East, known as the Arab Spring.
On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months, one statement read. Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants.
The San Francisco chapter has been operating less publicly, not counting Thursday's event, but its official Web Site said the activists have been holding general assembly meetings each evening in Justin Herman Plaza every day since New York's protests began.
On Sept. 24, at least 80 protesters involved with the movement were detained near Union Square in Manhattan; some accusing the police officers of using overly aggressive tactics as they fought to control the demonstrators who left their camp near Wall Street to march up Broadway. Police say the arrests were mostly for blocking traffic; charges included disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
It's unclear exactly what the protesters will ask for in exchange for leaving Wall Street.
More than having any specific demand, per se, I think the purpose of Sept. 17, for many of us who are helping to organize it and people who are coming out, is to begin a conversation, as citizens, as people affected by this financial system in collapse, as to how we're going to fix it, as to what we're going to do in order to make it work for us again, said Justin Wedes, an event organizer.
The rally itself was first called for by Adbusters in July.