My husband and I were in New York City this week. I had read about dwindling Occupy numbers in so many articles that I wanted to lend tangible support to the effort – especially when I heard the issues: the “March To Call on the SEC to Investigate Jamie Dimon” and his role in JP Morgan’s CIO debacle – and the protest and performance in solidarity with students in debt, in Quebec and here in the U.S.
Right off, I learned some interesting twists on the so-called “dwindling numbers.” My daughter, on scene for the May 1st protests, assured me that the reporters consistently downplay the numbers. She is sure that 30,000 people participated that day. The Occupy Movement waxes and wanes, but will not dissolve – like the 1968 May Revolution.
Then, when we arrived at Liberty Plaza, a middle aged woman with an intelligent demeanor and a clean maroon shirt and khaki slacks, took a break from speaking to her group – the Fuck the Banks group – to explain that this group and the Direct Action Working Group met at Liberty Plaza every other Wednesday. “It’s not that there are so many fewer people coming out,” she said, “but that we have so many smaller, specialized groups meeting now.” The critical mass potential continues to grow.
I mention her appearance to counter the media’s other contention, second only to the dwindling numbers: the completely bogus harping on Occupiers as lazy, dirty, insane, nymphomanic drug addicts – or unemployed or homeless, which of course, is because they are lazy, dirty, insane, nymphomanic drug addicts. Pardon my sarcastic rant. The people here are diverse, no doubt about it, but just check out my photos. I felt at home and comfortable among them. Less comfortable among the suited white guys standing in a line and listening when we arrived at the SEC.
But I’m jumping ahead… At Liberty Plaza, we joined “Occupy the SEC” and the “Alternative Banking Working Group” in their well-organized march and educational open mic segments. We were calling on the SEC to investigate Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan Chase, under Sarbanes-Oxley, and refer the case to the Department of Justice for prosecution. The Sarbanes-Oxley law says that CEOs cannot lie about the internal controls of their companies. Incredibly, Dimon sits on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most powerful bank in the Federal Reserve system – a glaring conflict of interest.
- 5:30 – 6:00: Gather in Liberty Plaza
- 6:00 – 6:15: March on J.P Morgan at One Chase Plaza
- 6:15 – 6:30: March on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
- 6:30 – 7:00: March to the S.E.C./Teach-In
Wherever you looked, police vans, cars, and literally mobs of foot soldiers surrounded and infiltrated the Plaza to “protect” passersby from an extremely well-organized, educational and non-violent exercise of free speech.
I learned that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a government agency created during the Great Depression to prevent and prosecute criminal activity just such as this. And that even during the Ronald Reagan administration, the SEC indicted and convicted financiers gambling with public funds. There were fines and there was prison time. Today, on the 78th anniversary of the founding of the SEC, with our democracy transformed into a plutocracy, the SEC sits on its hands, conflict of interest abundant in its ranks. Dimon himself has lobbied fiercely against the Volcker Rule, which (if properly crafted) might have prevented the recent $3+ billion trading loss by his federally-backstopped depository institution.
After leaving the SEC, we travelled north to Washington Square Park for the Casseroles Night in Canada – in NYC! Part 2. By then, it was pouring rain. About 50 people stood under the arch, another handful right in the rain near The People’s Staged performances. We were there to show solidarity with the Quebec student strike and the popular uprising in Quebec against Law 78 and the Charest government by banging pots and pans. The Quebec government plan to raise
the interest rates for students in debt is the prelude to the same plan here in the U.S. The rain drowned out the plan for a “bigger, louder, and rowdier” demonstration than previous versions, but the sheer numbers of wet protesters attests to the depth of emotion over this widespread issue.