‘Occupy’ the subway! Anti-Wall Street protesters go underground

The Brooklyn Paper
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Who needs Zuccotti?

Occupy Wall Street took its incendiary movement underground at two subway stations in Brooklyn last Thursday as part of a huge day of protests celebrating the two-month anniversary of the first settlement at a once-obscure Lower Manhattan park.

Anti-Wall Street protesters gathered at the Broadway Junction and Borough Hall subway stops at around 3 pm to decry economic inequality but also to urge surprised bystanders to join them.

“We are the 99 percent,” the hundred or so protesters chanted as they marched from Cadman Plaza to the Manhattan-bound 4/5 platform. “So are you!”

Protesters filled up three cars on the empty train, using the “human mic” to share personal stories of economic hardship to win over surprised straphangers who had not planned to be a part of the day’s protests.

“I have owned a business for five years, but I am forced to pay over a $1,000 a month to insure my family,” yelled a protester to the captive audience somewhere between Borough Hall and Bowling Green. “And it prevents us from saving any money. We live paycheck to paycheck. We want health care!”

Brooklynites supportive of the movement tolerated the interruption and the tight squeeze.

“I picked the right train!” said a woman who boarded the 4 train to find it full of protesters. “I believe in what they’re doing.”

For some, the subway protest was a rude intrusion into what is one of the city’s most hallowed rituals — the daily subway commute.

“I’m not so happy to see these people.” said Olivia Tufo from Williamsburg, who not only had difficulty getting to her waitressing job in Lower Manhattan, but then didn’t get much business once she got there. “I made 20 bucks today.”

But the occupiers insist that discomfort is part of the plan for change.

“Inconvenie­nce is a small thing compared to changing the country,” said Noah Fischer, an activist who’s started speaking out loud in subway cars on his own about Occupy Wall Street on his way over to Zuccotti Park from where he lives in Prospect Heights. “There are some moments in this that may be uncomfortable and that’s OK.”

Organizers also said that the subway protest is part of the movement’s attempts to radically redefine the notion of public space.

“The subway is usually filled with people who aren’t talking to each other,” said Fischer. “We need to break this silence — the subway is a public forum.”

The occupiers did not actually shut down subway lines or stations: actually the NYPD came the closest to doing that, barricading off a few entrances and exits near where the protesters exited in Manhattan.

The police made no Occupy Wall Street-related arrests in the subway system last Thursday, according to an NYPD spokesperson, but more than 250 people — including Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) — were arrested in other protests.

The subways may prove to be a viable place to congregate and protest, activists said, as the movement becomes more mobile after Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD ended the occupation of Zuccotti Park in the wee hours of last Tuesday morning.

“Come December, January, February — it’s going to all be about the subway,” said Fischer. “It’s a place for the public to gather all year round. It’s the 99 percent. And it’s warm.”

— with Alfred Ng

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at or by calling (718) 260-2531. Follow him at
Updated 5:28 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Peter from Heights says:
This leaflet was distributed by local retirees:

Part of an international day of protest!
November 17, 2011 3 PM
• The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans
• The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90%
• In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent
• Of the 100 highest paid chief executives in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income tax

Nicholas D. Kristof “America’s Primal Scream”. New York Times Sunday October 16, 2011 p.11

• “Between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent….meanwhile, during the same period the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million”
• The Social Contract
Published: September 22, 2011 NYT Op Ed Page
We treasure our political democracy in America. But it is ineffective because there is no social and economic democracy. Corporate lobbyist Abramoff boasted last week that he had controlled at least 100 congressional offices by promising jobs to the chiefs of staff. Oligarchy and plutocracy is un-American,and immoral. Our social contract must apply to all! The chief demand of Occupy Wall Street is to create and expand social and economic democracy, to strengthen political democracy and a moral and ethical basis for society. We will end Occupy Wall Street when Wall Street stops occupying our Congress and ripping off the poor, working, and middle classes. Please join the worldwide movement for freedom and an end to despotism and injustice.
Nov. 18, 2011, 10:24 am
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
These people are 99% moronic narcissistic childen. PS: if corporatinos aren't people, nor are unions.
Nov. 18, 2011, 1:58 pm
ty from PPS says:
Steven Rosenberg.... all of "these people" ?? -- Does that include all of the the 35,000 folks that marched yesterday and the countless numbers of smaller neighborhood-based demonstrations? All of them?

Obviously you must have been "inconvenienced" yesterday. Did your commute take a few minutes longer, you poor poor thing. How can you even cope?

If you don't understand the CLEAR structural and organizational difference between a labor union and a corporation, you're just a plain idiot. Yes. And idiot. A moronic, narcissistic, head up the arse idiot.
Nov. 18, 2011, 2:47 pm
Fred from Brooklyn says:
@Barbra. I do not speak in any "official" capacity for the movement, but to me the objections are systemic, not just about a few issues or demands. Primarily, I believe it is an uprising about a government that has become owned by corporations, particularly the financial institutions. It is about the largest financial fraud perpetrated against the American tax payers in history that has thus far gone unprosecuted. It is about taxation and income inequality. It is about the recent Supreme Court “Citizens United” ruling, further empowering corporate influence on our political process. It is about affordable health care and jobs. It is about two wars that have yet to be paid for. It is about a crumbling infrastructure. It is about a system that centers on money with little regard for environmental and personal health. It is about our growing debt, both national and personal with no light at the end of the tunnel. These and other issues have certainly been communicated by the movement, but I believe the main objective of OWS at this juncture is to organize and motivate people to become engaged. Democracy is not a spectator sport! The media has not been covering it clearly because they either don’t understand it or because the people they are beholden to are afraid of it ... but this is changing.
Nov. 18, 2011, 3:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First off, none of these protesters hate capitalism, they are against the use of cronyism. They are only ask for the rich to pay their fair share, not eliminate capitalism, which many of stereotyped them as. They may no longer have Zuccotti Park, but that doesn't mean that it's all over for them. BTW, the court only ruled that they can no longer camp there, but they can still use it to make protests if they choose two. Hearing almost reminds me of a scene from the Simpsons in the early days when she was singing outside the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant with the protesters saying this, "They have the plant, but we have the power." In the end, it's not the location that matters, it how influencial and expressional they are that really counts, and I feel that they made a big dent in this.
Nov. 18, 2011, 4:43 pm
Ezra from Park Slope says:
“The subway is usually filled with people who aren’t talking to each other,” said Fischer. “We need to break this silence — the subway is a public forum.”

A park is a public forum. A street corner is a public forum. The internet is a public forum. A subway is a small, often crowded space, filled with NY'ers eager to reach their destination. Forcing your message on those who would otherwise be sympathetic or supportive to the cause is self-defeating. "Inconveniencing" people does not win supporters and neither does using condescending, pedantic language like “Inconvenience is a small thing compared to changing the country.” Eventually the movement, if it is going to create lasting change, will need to affect policy, which requires broad support. Relegating yourselves to the ‘folks always shouting in the subway’ won’t garner any new OWS members. It can only push supportive people, like me, away.
Nov. 18, 2011, 4:46 pm
WW from Bay Ridge says:
What happened ?

You elected President HopenChange, and all you got was a crummy sign?

Blame Bush! Blame Bush!
Nov. 18, 2011, 6:24 pm
Paris from Queens says:
They want everyone to have free healthcare, good paying jobs, no college tuition.... a good number of them want no corperations, and still some want no capitlaism. Who is going to pay for this? What ever happened to the belief that people were individials, responsible for themselves and recieved help at the will of others, there's no difference between an IRS agent taking 500 dollars from Bill Gates and giving it an inner family for food, and a felon brekaing in and straling my tv to pawn to later bring home and eat with. Guess what I'm about to graduate with 100k in student loans, but guess what, I HAD A CHOICE OF WHERE I WENT TO COLLEGE. I should have gone to a community college bc I couldn't afford a big university, I chose to take that risk hoping I'll be able to pay it off later. I CHOSE to go there, if you have a student loan, it's your fault, no one elses, and certainly not the bank's.

The most important thing here is, this is a subway, this is not "your" park, this is not your sidewalk, this is a way to get from point A to B, thats generally already overcrowded and loud, making other people uncomfortable for no reason is not very becoming.

Take responsiblity, if you are against the government giving all this money to companies, how about taking out some anger at the govt? GOD FORBID WE DO THAT, THE TEA PARTY ALREADY TOOK THAT IDEA AND THEY DON'T EVEN DISRUPT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IN THE PROCESS... WHERES THE FUN?
Nov. 18, 2011, 6:32 pm
ty from pps says:
Paris -- You actually have a few good points... too bad it buried in a whole lot of BULLSH*T. Seriously.
Nov. 18, 2011, 6:38 pm
Roger from Brooklyn says:
"If you don't understand the CLEAR structural and organizational difference between a labor union and a corporation, you're just a plain idiot"

A corporation has a different structure than a union? What, like presidents? and representatives, and corruption, and greed? Because you're right, unions never have any of those....

Let's ask Jimmy Hoffa what he thinks about the possiblity of corruption in unions? Oh wait a minute....

And are they all anti capitlaist, no, are a good portion of them , yeh. You have someone posting earlier here talking about access to free public healthcare for everyone..... that's not capitalism.... the protestors are calling for student loans to be dismissed (lets see how many banks survive losing billions over student loans) that's not capitalism
Nov. 18, 2011, 6:40 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Where do the Unions invest their pension plans?

Oh, yeah, Wall Street.

Never mind!
Nov. 18, 2011, 9:26 pm
Joe from Brooklyn Heights says:
Anybody that doesn't know what the 99% are protesting about hasn't been reading the papers lately or at all for that matter. What are they protesting about?

Income inequality,
overtaxing the middle class and poor and giving tax breaks for the rich,
Breaking the Glass Steagal Act which permitted Wall St to create these "financial instruments" that brought the recession and put a serious tailspin to our economy.
Outsourcing of jobs,
Lobbyists that help the rich by pushing legislations that hurt the middle class,
Wall st tycoons that play musical chairs with key financial government posts to push through legislations to erode the economy and corrupt the "balance" between corporations and working people.

Take your choice. I say all of the above and much more!
Nov. 18, 2011, 11:23 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Thanks Joe, but you've projected all of that onto a plain screen. Much like shadow puppets!

Go there and try to get that out of the clowns in the drum circle, or the Lotion Man!
Nov. 18, 2011, 11:50 pm
ty from pps says:
Hey Douche Bag... err... I mean, Or from Yellow Hook.

Guess what? Joe and everyone else having these conversations in venues like this and elsewhere are (in part) the result of the Occupy Protests. You can keep creating bogeymen of some "dirty hippies" that you've decided represent the movement as a whole... but guess what? You're WRONG. Do you think that the 35,000 people marching last night to the Brooklyn Bridge were all "clowns in drum circles" or do you think perhaps... just perhaps... those people represented veterans, workers (union and non-union), mothers, fathers, young, old, unemployed, underemployed, etc. etc. etc. Hmmm?
Nov. 19, 2011, 12:04 am
Paris from Queens says:
I'm still confused why 100% of the blame is on the 1%..... how about Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac? Partially motivated by the federal reserve, brought to you by that wonderful federal government which a percentage of the occupiers are calling to get involved MORE.

On a side note, Newt Gingrich can shove off, anyone who worked heavily for (let alone took 1.2 mil from) freddie mac should not be in a position of power...again. Same for Barack, obviously not for the same reason though
Nov. 19, 2011, 1:42 am
j from forest hills says:
Ows stands for obnoxious white slobs. Keep doing your thing and foreign workers will simply be recruited to take the jobs that your kind will no longer get. You tax rich people more and they will simply pass their extra expenses down to poor slobs like you by hiking up prices on the goods and services that they produce. Also they will entrench their disposable income and not contribute it to the economy. Yeah you can throw group temper tantrum but you hold no real leverage to force anybody to do anything. All the rest of us have to do is exactly what we are doing now which is entrench. We simply hoard all of our disposable income and stop all charitable donations. This is our counter protest to your protest.
Nov. 19, 2011, 2:14 am
Mike from North Babylon,NY says:
Are there Any Adults out there any more? You Original "occupy" people had a point I could rally around it. No Bailouts, No Million Dollar Raises to Fannie and Freddie Exec's. MoreTransparancy where spending Our Money Goes. This has been hijacked by a bunch of Whining Children. How does snarling traffic advance the cause? Occupying Private Parks and causing Mayhem and Terrorizing Parents and Children on the Subways Millions of precious Dollars spent on police instead of education. Don't you people get it? Many of us have what are called Job's. We go to a thing called Work. We slaved our whole lives to make that $120,000 a year. Two of us working three jobs to send our 2 kids to Private Schools and College. We have those silly things called Bills we get every month. Living and Working on Long Island, being taxed to death. Paying for all necessities we are a pay check away from homelessness and for what? The honor of higher taxes and lower services. Obama has not worked out for us so far. No Transparency, No Hope and Just Pocket Change. A good Friend of mine said that because I am a Conservative I want to see Obama Fail. I set him straight. I am an A Proud American First! I Want Obama to succeed and anyone who thinks that Republicans and Conservatives monolithically would work against their own best Interest are grossly misinformed. Collective Bargaining will soon destroy the States that passed it. There’s not enough money to pay for all the services needed. In many parts of the country there are thing called ‘Deer Kills’. It happens when you compare the population of Deer and figure how much food that population will need to survive. If there is not enough food, Permits are relaxed so that more deer can be taken. Some people call it Murder. People like that are Idiots for lack of a better term and in my estimation. You kill some so that the Majority Survive. It’s Mercy not Murder. It’s also a natural law. You can’t spend more than you make.
It's time we grow All Grow Up and understand that there are consequences with our words and our actions. Mr. President, when you endorse a small minority of people and blame our problems on another sector, you pit one sector of society against the other. The people who work 3 jobs to pay for what 1 job use to pay for. We Want You and Need You to Succeed. The Blame Bush Game Should is Over!! This is Your Watch President Obama !! Own Up to It. It would be a step in the right direction. The gang of 12 wants to add taxes to those of us who have mortgages. It will affect people who make more than $70,000 per year. We figured we'd get a $3200 bump every year. The Well is Dry. We Can't Do It Anymore.
We lost over one half a Trillion Dollars on something the administration was warned about. It seems no one is at the helm of this ship, where ever you stand politically , you have to be Intellectually Honest! Raising Taxes without Cutting Spending is a double negative. It Makes No Sense! So put the Pipeline back on “the to do now list” and realize a jump of 20,000 jobs to the economy and don’t Occupy , Go to work! If you’re not part of the Cure, You’re Part of the Problem., Grow Up America or soon those pictures from Greece will be available out your front door.
Lastly, Americans are not “Lazy”. It was a Stupid, Insensitive and Insulting thing to say. Does Our President understand that People in other Countries heard what he said. Above All, he is America’s Advocate in Chief. It does matter what others think because “a fish stinks from the nose down”. His Words Have Meaning.
Nov. 19, 2011, 5:16 am
ty from pps says:
Mike -- I realize you are just ranting and I can't expect consistency or coherence... However, can I point out that President Obama NEVER said the American worker is lazy. Never. This was a CLEAR distortion using soundbites by the Perry and Romney campaigns.

Obama, Nov. 12, at APEC: "Well, this is an issue, generally. I think it's important to remember that the United States is still the largest recipient of foreign investment in the world. And there are a lot of things that make foreign investors see the U.S. as a great opportunity — our stability, our openness, our innovative free market culture.

But we've been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America. And so one of the things that my administration has done is set up something called SelectUSA that organizes all the government agencies to work with state and local governments where they're seeking assistance from us, to go out there and make it easier for foreign investors to build a plant in the United States and put outstanding U.S. workers back to work in the United States of America."

How is saying we need to be more proactive in attracting investment being "stupid, insensitive and insulting"?! Oh, right. It's not. Well, unless republican campaign staff make it that way through editing and removing all words around the 2 second sound bite.

In short -- You should take a moment to reflect on what you've heard and your preconceived notions.
Nov. 19, 2011, 12:24 pm

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