Is This the Death of Occupy Wall Street?

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And just like that, the police may once again attempt to break up the Occupy Wall Street protest movement only a couple of days after receiving the assurances of New York City's mayor.

What's odd is that the public park where protesters are camping is privately owned. Zuccotti Park was created in the 1960s in a deal that gave the developer concessions on certain development rules in exchange for building the public space. The park's current owner, Brookfield Properties (NYSE: BPO  ) , a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE: BAM  ) , and sister-company of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BIP  ) , had demanded the protesters clear out for the day, arguing they needed to hose down the park, before promising to enforce bans on tents, lying down on the ground or benches, or placing large personal items on the ground.

Protesters, who have been employing an organized sanitation committee, argued they'd kept the place clean, and after hundreds of thousands of signatures were petitioned last night, the company and mayor agreed to let them stay -- for now.

Whatever your opinion about the anti-Wall Street movement, the fact that a private real estate company attempted to call in the police to clear protesters out of the park is a pretty fitting picture for a movement protesting what they believe is undue corporate influence over public life and politics.

Along those lines, one humorous sidenote to the unfolding saga -- the mayor's girlfriend is on Brookfield's Board of Directors. (According to company filings, she only received $86,947 from Brookfield for her work in 2010. That may sound like a lot -- and it is -- but not in the grand scheme of board membership; she also made $286,000 last year sitting on Citigroup's (NYSE: C  ) board.)

It's no secret that Wall Street -- and its mayor -- aren't really enamored with the anti-Wall Street protests. Michael Bloomberg had previously commented on Occupy Wall Street, calling it "unproductive" of them to attack "the jobs of working people." And, to be fair, much of Wall Street does perform legitimate, socially useful services. But that's not necessarily what people are upset about. As my fellow Fool Brian Richards reported, the protesters have a variety of viewpoints, a great deal of which were quite nuanced. It may not require a huge intellectual stretch to support capitalism and banking in general, yet be opposed to 1% of the population owning 40% of the nation's wealth and the too-big-to-fail status of risky companies like Citigroup, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) , Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , and AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) , as many protesters are.

New York's police got bad press after they were accused of entrapping and arresting 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge and one of its officers was caught on video pepper-spraying two females (the officer has been placed under investigation).

One thing's clear: This won't be the death of protests like Occupy Wall Street. Similar "occupy" events are sprouting up in hundreds of cities. As the CEO of BlackRock (NYSE: BLK  ) -- Brookfield's largest U.S. corporate shareholder -- put it, "These are not lazy people sitting around looking for something to do. We have people losing hope and they're going into the street, whether it's justified or not."

This is the sort of thing that's to be expected after Wall Street helps create an economic implosion, gets bailed out, and returns to bubble-era levels of profitability while the middle class remains under enormous stress with jobs few and far between.

Movements tend to happen when people feel like there's not much hope left in the status quo. Sticky movements like Occupy Wall Street happen when people become desperate enough to try to change things.

Ilan Moscovitz doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter @TMFDada. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, and Citigroup. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, Brookfield Asset Management, and BlackRock. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (12)

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  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 4:32 PM, TimothyVR wrote:

    Spare me, please. You'er breakin' my heart....

    This is a movement that is claiming to speak for 99% of the population. They claim to be the middle class. What we are seeing is the transformation of this disorganized 'movement' into a left-wing event that allows Michale Moore and Al Sharpton and assorted wealthy left-wing celebrities to carry on and pontificate while 'students' eat free food and bang drums.

    Their goals include ending the Fed and providing guaranteed income for all people, at all times. And immediate forgiveness of all debt.

    Do you support that as well? Do you know what will happen to your investments if they succeed?

    Oops! Sorry. I know it is trendy now to be hysterically anti-capitalist. And the Motley Fool is the distilled essence of trendy political correctness.

    And the private owners of the park have every right to expel them. Are you kidding? Or do you support the end of private property too?

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 5:12 PM, michnow wrote:

    Many of these ppl are being paid by a left wing publication from Canada. This is grass roots, sure.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 8:16 PM, Tiingall wrote:

    I'm sure there are fringe groups jumping onto the back of the OWS. And extremists sent in by opponents to undermine the credibility of the movement. But the fundamental reason the OWS movement exists is because a lot of people working in Wall Street abused the trust we placed in them to responsibly manage our savings and investments.

    Instead, they happily and eagerly destroyed our savings for their personal greed, to get rich quick, at everyone's expense.

    By doing so they destroyed future opportunities for our children, our retirement funds, the value of our shares, and the viability of many businesses.

    They fact that some elements of the OWS movement are asking for free food and to have student loan debts written off is a consequence. In a practical sense such costs are possibly a small price to pay relative to what supporting the corrupt bankers via the bail-out money, the loss of savings, destroyed businesses, and the widespread destruction of the capitalist system which they have created.

    The consequences of Wall Street's greed have been devastating for millions of people around the world. These leeches of Wall Street have shown no remorse, they have not apologized, fixed the problem or removed the mechanisms by which it could be done to us again. They have not sold the mansions, yachts or other assets, nor emptied their hidden offshore accounts, to return our savings to their vaults.

    Without our savings, legitimate businesses - that actually create jobs, make things to sell, enhance the quality of life and generate more wealth/savings - have less cash to initiate developments, conduct research, develop new drugs etc. As Foolish investors, we have less money to invest in these real businesses which we see as well run, sound operations with a positive future.

    The selfish, myopic actions of the leeches of Wall Street have sucked the life-blood - the accumulated savings of all the little people and responsible business that create products and services to sell - out of the capitalist system. Without capital to invest, the system grinds to a halt; as it has.

    Company profits are down, people are out of work, they have less money to spend, therefore company profits are down further, and more people are tossed out of work; in a continuing and ever deepening downward spiral. Everyone suffers.

    We were depending on the bankers and financial wizards of Wall Street to be responsible and professional, to use their superior education (which we paid for, one way or another) and quick minds to manage our money, to protect the capitalist system, and with it, our personal savings. We were paying them massive salaries for this very important job, and to attract the best and brightest into the occupation. But instead, they used their intellect, education - and our savings - to contrive all manner of convoluted scams to drain the life-blood of the capitalist system into their private pockets.

    The capitalist system works really well if everyone is honest and plays their part, responsibly, and with consideration for others. It does not work when one group of people decides to abuse their position of trust and power to exploit others. Eventually they too will suffer - e.g.: the big job losses on Wall Street - but only because they first destroyed the hands that feed them.

    That's why a lot of normal people - including Fools - support the OWS; we are all suffering because of the insatiable greed of a few, and the horrible consequences they have brought upon the capitalist system.

    I'm a (very small) BIP shareholder. I intend to write to them to say I want BIP to support the OWS people. The OWS initiative could help save BIP and my share prices from further or future blood-sucking on Wall Street.

    And if push comes to shove, the leeches of Wall Street need to remember that they also destroyed the pensions, homes, savings and life-opportunities for the Police, the Fire Brigade, the National Guard, electricity and water workers and a lot of other people, businesses and services they'll need to protect and support them. What goes around comes around.

    The leeches of Wall Street need to listen to the rumblings of the OWS - not try to rationalize, write them off or stomp them out - before what is very probably the tip of the iceberg, bursts onto the surface. If it does, and in a destructive way because they have been ignored or denied, there will be a lot more suffering.

    Perhaps the leeches of Wall Street have been too busy counting our money in their accounts to read the news about Egypt, Syria etc. When you exploit people to the point where they have nothing, they also have nothing worth losing.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 8:23 PM, TimothyVR wrote:

    So you are looking forward to a repeat of Syria and Egypt?

    Good luck. Somehow I cannot see 99% of the population of the US rampaging through the streets and turning out the government.

    We have no right to compare ourselves to the Arab Spring. That is an insult to them.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 11:02 PM, fantoozler wrote:

    @TimothyVR - first comment:

    "Ending the Fed" is not necessarily a left-wing proposition. It is espoused by Ron Paul and very popular with Libertarians and proponents of hard currency.

    As far as a "guaranteed income", that was proposed by Milton Friedman as part of his flat tax. He called it a Negative Income Tax.

  • Report this Comment On October 14, 2011, at 11:46 PM, WikiCPA wrote:


    How can you place all the blame on wall street? Are you a protestor? I agree with your one comment that a capitalistic society should be fair, but how we (taxpayers) paid for wall street's education? They aren't exempt from paying those back, i'm sure they paid those back in full and all the interest. They probably did it with the money they earned working 80 hour weeks starting out. Whatever they do after isn't our business.

    "Company profits are down, people are out of work, they have less money to spend, therefore company profits are down further, and more people are tossed out of work; in a continuing and ever deepening downward spiral. Everyone suffers."

    Less money to spend huh? 100 million iphones and 20 million ipads feed more than 1%...must be wall street fat cats at it again!

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 12:04 AM, TimothyVR wrote:

    The cry to 'end the fed' must be the last word in trendy stupidity.

    They REALLY want to return to the 19th century with its wild swings in GDP?

    All of these protesters should stop screaming and blaming the world for their problems and do some HOMEWORK before they come up with these bizarre 'demands'.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 4:03 AM, Tiingall wrote:

    It won't need 99% of the population to come onto the streets. A minor fraction of a % is all it will take to block access to the major banks and trading houses. If that happens just in the present States where the OWS is currently active, that will be sufficient to collapse our share prices and send our financial future down the drain.

    And which government official will send in the Police or National Guard to forcibly evinct the OWS? Only those who do not wish to be elected again. The TV news coverage of that would be political suicide. 99% is a big majority of voters.

    And would the Police or National Guard actively implement such an order? After all, it was the bankers and financial wizards who destroyed their pension funds and flogged them deliberatly flawed and predatory housing loans. And who - as taxpayers - the Police,and National Guard had to bail out of the financial abyss they deliberately and knowingly created for everyone.

    The Police, National Guard and OWS protesters - and the rest of the 99% - are bonded together by a lot more commonality than the Wall Street crowd is bonded to any of us; unless being the victim of exploitation and financial fraud is now considerd a bonding experience.

    We've all been exploited, betrayed and ripped off by the bankers and financial experts who told us they could be trusted to responsibly manage our savings and investments. Instead, they contrived to create dummy loans, worthless financial instruments and a maze of convoluted products so they could scim off large parts of our savings, and knowingly vaporise a lot more, once the game was up.

    Yes, the bankers and financial wizards are solely responsible. We did not give our savings to the government to manage; we gave it to our highly paid banking and finance technocrats. They said we could trust them but instead chose to ignore their professional responsibility and duty of care to their clients - the people who trusted them with their savings, and who's savings created their jobs and paid their salary.

    They chose to exploit loopholes in the law to create, promote and sell scam loans and other schemes to justify great bonuses and commissions; until they emptied the vaults of our savings. If they were professional, and if they cared about their clients' financial welfare, they would not have put their short-term personal greed first. They would have used their great intellect and access to expertise and economic data to do their job responsibly, protecting both us and the capitalist system, from meltdown. But they did not.

    If the bankers and financial wizzards were truly professional, there would be absolutely no need for the FED's regulatory functions. (Think of how much money that would save the country, the economy and the taxpayers!) The industry would self regulate. Managers and staff would see beyond short term greed to understand that their future is tied to the future of the clients they serve, and act accordingly.

    They would police themselves, kicking out their bad people, protecting the welfare of their clients -and thereby themselves - by making up the money their bad eggs contrived to steal or vaporise. But they didn't, and despite 4 years since they exhausted our savings in their vaults, they still haven't. There are no signs they feel remorse or are willing to make amends for their wrong-doing and the human suffering they created, nor to correct their industry, so we - the people who employ them to manage our savings -are protected against any similar outbreaks of evil.

    And they have have not made any visible steps to give back our money they have stashed in hidden overseas accounts, real estate, artworks, gold, yachts etc.

    From information seen in newspapers and on TV, they instead seem determined to play the game of "make a new set of rules and we'll find a way around them to exploit people again".

    I don't recall any of the perpetrators dragged into court so far who pleaded guilty. They don't think they did anything wrong. Or perhaps they believe they have a right to rip people off, create massive financial losses, cause small and large businesses all over America to close, so people lose their jobs, and to impose immense human suffering on millions of families? Just so they can be richer.

    I would hate to see any escalation of the present OWS protest. I do hope the bankers and financial wizards of Wall Street can listen to the underlying reasons for the OWS movement, and take positive action to restore their credibility and public confidence. Because above all, that's what has been destroyed. The people in the street have lost faith in the financial institutions they have been educated to believe will look after their savings.

    Their belief in the capitalist system has been seriously damaged by the self-serving way the bankers and finance wizards have behaved.

    Their belief that truth and justice underpin the American Constitution has also been called into serious doubt.

    Wall Street needs to fix it; quick. Government will take too long. The private financial sector needs to act, to show leadership, to admit they were wrong, to make commitments to the people that they will change their parasitic, psychopathic behaviour, and become a responsible part of the interdependent capitalist system again.

    That's the first step to restoring public faith and confidence. It will probably allow the OWS people to go home; assuming they still have a home.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 2:29 PM, WikiCPA wrote:

    You are delusional. You attack bankers as if they forced you to give your savings to them, as if they forced you to sign a loan. I think you just made a bad decision with your finances and are blaming wall street for your lack of due diligence. I don't know much about your method of investing in wall street, but i do know a vast amount of investing with a financial advisor. Like everything else that you put for money to (Netflix, bills, car payments) you analyze the risks/benefits/costs/rewards before doing that.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 10:46 PM, Tiingall wrote:

    Hi WikiCPA,

    I don't think I'm delusional. There seem to be too many immoral actions on the part of the banks to support that one. And no I did not directly receive a bad deal from any banks. I've managed to save money and operate a business without their loans, so I have never been in a position to be seriously victimized by them.

    But I have certainly seen what they have done to other people.

    A 40 minute phone call from a bank employee a few years ago - trying to convince me that it is normal for a TT to take 8 days through their system - set my alarms bells ringing. If they so desperately need my few thousand $ for 8 days - presumably added together with millions of other TTs - they must had a serious problem. This concern was reinforced by some other very silly attempts to increase charges, route TTs through third party banks to make an excuse to take out more fees (e.g: send $100 to Europe to setup an account. Cost $30 in up front TT fees, and another $40 removed on route. That's $70 total to deliver $60.) and a bank salesmen pursuing me to offer a credit card merchant account which needs a $20K fixed deposit, for ever, with no interest. I sensed a somewhat desperate change in their regular behavior and felt something was wrong.

    I read the signs, listened to my warning bells and sold almost all my shares. A few months later the banks started falling over, and with them they took a lot of other peoples' savings, pensions, homes, jobs, share values etc.

    They damaged the financial future of ordinary, responsible, salt-of-the-earth working people who actually make and provide the products and service we need every day. These honest people trusted the banks with their savings, their pension schemes and more. The bankers abused, exploited, betrayed and lied to them. The financial impact on these people will be felt until they die.

    A 2008 French study identified tens of thousands of additional child deaths each week, around the world, because governments and aid agencies have less money as a direct result of the banking/financial collapse; created by the bankers for their personal greed. That's a kill rate which the Bosnian Serbs and Al-Qaeda could only dream about. Plus add the adults, and the family murder-suicides when people lose all hope. The bankers have achieved this amazing scale of death and destruction around the world by exploiting their position of trust and power, while paying themselves incredible fees, bonuses and commissions.

    As an example, HSBC operated a separate branch in the USA (where they had no actual banking branches) with over 700 employees, which they closed overnight once the collapses started, to try to hide their involvement in the sub-prime loan scam. (That rather demonstrates they knew they were doing something very wrong.) They are still writing off over US$80 million a day off depositor and shareholder funds, every day, for roughly four years now, because of their involvement in the sub prime loan scam and the associated flawed instruments. They need every dollar in extra fees (e.g: a present HSBC, have a special fee to get the exchange rate commission they would have earned on an international transfer if the transfer had involved a currency exchange, but did not), or drop in services, or super low interest on deposits, to help pay this massive loss, to stay alive.

    They had to sell millions more shares a few years ago to prop up their operation, and recently announced over 40 thousand job cuts around the world over the next few years. All because of the personal greed of the bankers. And this is a bank that did not need a government bailout, so we can only imagine the scale of corruption, syphoned off money, and real loss of depositors funds and shareholder investments in those that did.

    Are these the behaviors of a good corporate citizen? People the community should trust with their savings and pension funds? A company we should put our savings into as share purchases, to help them grow and prosper, and get bigger, so they can do it again, but bigger? Not me.

    I expect a lot of the OWS people are in debt so they probably can't express their opinions Foolisly, as a capitalist, by investing in businesses that are more socially responsible. So they are out on the streets instead.

    Do an internet search for Dr Adrian Raine - criminologist. He - and others - have been finding the same brain deformities in repeat white collar criminals (e.g: bankers) as found in serial killers. The resulting behavior is known as a Psychopathy.

    The characteristics are that they can tell you what is right and wrong, they can present themselves as very honest, trustworthy, conservative, responsible, professional people, to seduce you into their web. But when it comes time to act, there is a missing part in their brain which normally allows the right, wrong, ethical, responsible, honest, considerate, compassionate elements - the personal qualities that make us human, and distinguish us from the apes. or leeches - from limiting the selfish personal gratification, emotional impulsiveness, greed, blood-sucking and murder type behaviors.

    This could explain why the banking community cannot seem to comprehend why the rest of society is upset with their behavior. And why they cannot understand why the OWS exists, and why many people do not agree with their predatory and heartless behavior. And why they cannot say sorry, or be self-policing, or admit their errors to Senate enquiries, or courts, and therefore, cannot operate without a FED to try to control them. It would also explain why they have said "bring on the new legislation so we can look for loopholes to exploit, to do it again".

    Perhaps a significant contributing factor to the apparent determination by large parts of the banking and finance industry to maintain their right to exploit and abuse the community is that too many psychopaths have gathered in the industry, to seek out their prey.

  • Report this Comment On October 15, 2011, at 11:42 PM, mhonarvar wrote:

    after the last 4 years and knowing everything that went down - anyone supporting wall street either works there or is a sell out.

    If you want things to stay the way they are (as opposed to supporting the call for change) - then you don't care about the truth or right/wrong...only how much you can squeeze out of this dysfunctional system.

  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2011, at 1:54 AM, slyhorse wrote:

    This is the inevitable blowback from 35 years of wage stagnation while the upper 1% saw incredible income gains.


  • Report this Comment On October 16, 2011, at 2:01 AM, slyhorse wrote:

    Too much income concentrated into the upper bracket. The same thing happened in 1929 and the great depression and a huge destruction in wealth ensued, which like now, hit the middle class and the lower merchant class hardest.

    For one thing, the federal tax system has needed a major overhaul for 30 years, but since the big corporations and big government are in bed, nothing has happened. Yet.

    I for one, am optimistic that we may be watching the birth of a major change in thinking and direction.

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2011, at 12:58 PM, rueroyal wrote:

    Its the politicians who shoul be blamed. They allowed all this to happen. This greed can be summed up perfectly by Barney Frank who said there is nothing wrong with FM and FM, they just need more money. Or how about the time he said FM and FM is now a policy making institution

    Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee? (fox in the hen house) Hillary,reed,pelosi,schummer and progressive friends should all be thrown out.

    The same leftists that caused so much harm are now cheering these squatters on.

    Will the voters be smarter next time around??

  • Report this Comment On November 02, 2011, at 1:08 PM, Acesnyper wrote:

    I don't want to be dreadfully long and I feel I could be, so I'll semi bullet point a few thoughts of this.

    As mentioned by fantoozler ending the fed is all the rage by both "grassroots" groups. If only both were not so brain dead to look past party lines and team up.

    OWS started as a funded party movement, the tea party got bought up (aside the morals of who's right wrong).

    rueroyal, who elected them? In history we've found people don't sit in their beds well. I agree the gov is more at fault then the corps because we need to attack problems from their root. But by that mark we need to all punch our selves in the face the most.

    While I comment about "US" I don't mean you, I or anyone on this board. I mean the overall masses, because well look who we have in the offices there a lot of people who fell for tricks or are uneducated in the gov. If we don't educate ourselves we'll end up with just bigger and wilder promises to get elections won.

    I have a very sad feeling the next Ipad will come out election day and none of these people will vote and wonder how we got in this mess all over again.

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