By Samantha Gross
NEW YORK -- Chanting and cheering down Wall Street on Saturday to mark six months since the birth of the Occupy movement, some protesters applauded the
employee who days ago gave the firm a public drubbing, echoing the movement's indictment of a financial system demonstrators say is fueled by reckless greed.
"I kind of like to think that the Occupy movement helped him to say, 'Yeah, I really can't do this anymore,'" retired librarian Connie Bartusis said of the op-ed piece by Goldman Sachs manager Greg Smith, who claimed the company regularly foisted failing products on clients as it sought to make more money.
Carrying a sign with the words "Regulate Regulate Regulate," Bartussis said the loss of governmental checks on the financial system helped create the climate of unfettered self-interest described by Smith in his piece, although Goldman's leadership suggested he had not portrayed the bank's culture accurately.
"Greed is a very powerful force," Bartussis said. "That's what got us in trouble."
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On Saturday, six months after the protesters first took over Zuccotti Park near the city's financial district, the protesters gathered there again, drawing slogans in chalk on the pavement and waving flags as they marched through lower Manhattan.
With the barricades that once blocked them from Wall Street now removed, the protesters streamed down the sidewalk and covered the steps of the Federal Hall National Memorial. There, steps from the
New York Stock Exchange
and standing at the feet of a statue of George Washington, they danced and chanted, "We are unstoppable."
|Occupy Wall Street demonstrators stand and cheer in front of the George Washington statue on Wall Street as they celebrate the protest's sixth month, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in New York.
Police say arrests had been made, but they don't have a full count yet.
As always, the protesters focused on a variety of concerns, but for Tom Hagan, his sights were on the giants of finance.
"Wall Street did some terrible things, especially Goldman Sachs, but all of them. Everyone from the banks to the rating agencies, they all knew they were doing wrong. ... But they did it anyway. Because the money was too big," he said.
Dressed in an outfit that might have been more appropriate for the parade going on uptown, the 61-year-old salesman wore a green shamrock cap and carried a sign asking for saintly intervention: "St. Patrick: Drive the snakes out of Wall Street." He, too, praised Smith's editorial and said it came just as the Occupy movement is again gaining ground.