Hundreds of people congregated yesterday for a march on Wall Street with thousands more supporting the march online. The event was organized by AFL-CIO with a single message: Wall Street helped bring down the economy so they should help to restore it.
Protesters waved signs that read “Reclaim Our Democracy,” and “Hold Wall Street Accountable.” One sign asked a simple question: “Which Side Are You On: Greed or Need.” MainStreet spoke with many individuals at the rally to get a sense of how Wall Street has affected them, what their biggest frustrations are and to find out what they would like to change about Wall Street.
Whether or not you agree with their points, the sheer variety of people that came to the event is a testament to the incredible impact that Wall Street seems to have had on this country.
K Webster and Steve Elson, community organizer and musician, respectively
Steve Elson carried around a sign that read, “Here on behalf of those widows and orphans,” a quote that his wife, K. Webster found in one of the e-mails from the infamous Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs. ““I’ve managed to sell a few Abacus bonds to widows and orphans that I ran into at the airport, apparently these Belgians adore synthetic ABS CDO2,” Tourre wrote. In a sense, she and her husband see this quote as an embodiment of all the arrogance and greed that makes Wall Street so easy to revile.
“They produce nothing of value and need to invest back in small businesses and the community,” she said. “Right now, it’s a culture utterly about greed and not investing in the economy.” As a community organizer on Manhattan’s lower east side, she has worked with many people who lost their homes in the recession, and her husband has found it even more difficult to get work as a musician now. “Everyone wants to have work of value, that means something, and people are losing those now,” Webster said. More than anything, she wants Wall Street to accept some “heavy duty regulations” and then to begin giving back to the rest of America.
Bill Hanley, 60, Iron Worker
Bill Hanley has worked as an iron worker for 30 years but he says his days there are numbered now. “I’m getting laid off soon and I have nowhere to go,” he said. So Hanley is deciding to retire ahead of schedule. “We lost money on our annuity last year because of the crash and construction in general just took a flop because of what happened on Wall Street,” he said. Hanley did not try to hide his disdain for bankers and investors. “They’re parasites.”