| Nov. 29th, 2015

Bankers Confused by Occupy Wall Street

"We are the 99 percent!" is the rallying refrain often heard during demonstrations around Wall Street. Although the "Occupy Wall Street" movement's goals are still being defined, a consistent theme is that America's wealthiest 1 percent have too much money and power--and it's time for everyone else to have their voices heard.

The message, however, has not been communicated to workers in the financial sector (assuming the marchers make the distinction between community banks, such as the ones in Maine that invest in local businesses, and the corporate raider banks that got billions in bail-outs).

Last night, while documenting these events in New York City for the Exception, I witnessed two self-identified Wall Street workers wandering through Zuccotti park during the "General Assembly" meeting and challenging the attendees on the purpose of the protests.

In the view of these two, the protesters were hypocritically rallying against corporations, even as they consume trendy products like designer clothes and iPads.

Echoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's argument that "bankers are struggling to make ends meet," the Wall Street workers also claimed they were just trying to feed their families, like everyone else.

Another banker argument was that the young people in attendance had it better off than anyone else in the world and could move home with their parents if need be. They saw no reason for protests since "no one is starving here."

A protester said that he only makes $20,000 a year but the banker countered "that's pretty good!"

Ultimately, it seemed like there was little common ground to be found. The logic of taxing the wealthiest 1 percent more to feed hungry children or provide healthcare to all was lost on these Wall Street workers, who finally admitted "I don't know about Obama or politics."

Additional reporting by Kaila Hale-Stern.

Photo shows protesters mocking billionaires and was taken during the event last night.


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