Greed ain’t good! Occupy Brooklyn partly fills Grand Army Plaza

The Brooklyn Paper
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More than 100 people — including the borough’s top elected official in a quietly supportive role — ushered Brooklyn into the Occupy Wall Street movement with a three-hour rally for economic justice on Saturday in Grand Army Plaza.

Dozens of cops were on hand, but the protest was entirely peaceful.

There were signs, there were props and there were speeches — all urging America to wake up to the nation’s growing economic disparity, the government’s too-close connections with banks, and a tax structure that favors the wealthy.

“Why join Occupy Wall Street?” one speaker asked rhetorically. “Because income disparity in the United States is worse than Iran and India.”

Nearby, a protester surrounded by police held a sign reading, “S—t is f—ked and I’m not LOL-ing anymore.” Another toted a huge “Occu-pus,” whose tentacles represented corporate America’s supposed hold on the political system.

“It just hit me that we needed to represent the problem so there’d be something directly to boo at,” said Kate Hibbard, one of the Occu-pus’s architects.

Borough President Markowitz mingled with the crowd — albeit also with the police — to offer qualified support for the larger point of the protesters, who were confined to the sidewalk just south of the fabled archway.

“They have a message which I agree with in many ways,” he said. “The disparity in income growth in this country is not a positive thing for the future of America — and it’s a great concern.”

Markowitz and the protesters echoed a growing body of evidence that the income gap is widening to historic levels. Since the mid-1980s, the chasm has widened by 20 percent, more than in most developed countries.

The richest one percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of the nation’s income, up from almost nine percent in 1976.

Many economists believe that growing income inequality prolongs recessions and makes recoveries much shallower — creating a cycle of economic downturn.

Markowitz is one of the highest-profile politicians to embrace the message — despite the fact that it has been criticized by media commentators as purposeless and mocked by the right wing as naive.

“I’m hoping that it will raise the consciousness of those who are scared away, particularly the working class, the union members, and all the working people that are supporting the Tea party,” he said.

Markowitz’s presence was a good sign, said one of the organizers.

“It’s a sign that the movement’s gaining steam and that it’s not going to be ignored,” said Brian Merchant. “It shows that Occupy Brooklyn is something that politicians don’t want to ignore any more.”

The NYPD certainly did not ignore the rally, though given the large number of officers on hand, it is likely that the police expected more people or anticipated violence.

Or maybe the NYPD was sending a message of its own, some protesters said.

“They sent out an excessive police force for a nonviolent protest,” said Michael Sternfeld, an organizer. “It’s for intimidati­on.”

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Dave from Park Slope says:
Markowitz is a complete fraud. He's been the biggest booster of Atlantic Yards, the poster project for 1% abuse, and has stood with the 1% who have sued to undo traffic calming on Prospect Park West. What a hypocritical opportunist. He's lucky he wasn't tarred and feathered.
Oct. 16, 2011, 8:02 am
Occu from Pie says:
Occupy Borough Hall, Markowitz has zero credibility aligning himself with this movement
Oct. 16, 2011, 12:54 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If anything in Brooklyn deserves to be occupied, it should by the AY Complex. This is an example of a rich man using taxpayer dollars to help fund their own needs rather than paying for it themselves. If they do this, it will really got the opposition, and it could actually stop the entire project especially by showing Ratner for who he really is.
Oct. 16, 2011, 2:25 pm
sue from heights says:
Marty Markowitz is exactly what is wrong with the system. A career taker not a giver. He takes free meals whenever he can. He takes his wife on junkets whenever he can. He promotes Atlactic Yards etc. etc.
Mark my words when he leaves office he will get rewarded with a job from a developer probably Ratner.
He is an embarrasment.
Oct. 16, 2011, 7:34 pm
Resident from PPW says:
Just curious, when Marty Markowitz was introduced at the rally, what was the crowd reaction?
Oct. 17, 2011, 4:19 am
Bruce from Brooklyn Heights says:
Marty is a good guy and although he is way too much for the developers and Wall Street fat cats, I think he is sincere in thinking inequality has gotten out of hand. There's really no reason he had to be there other than being sincere. He can't gain much by it.
Oct. 17, 2011, 5:48 am
johnny boy from windsor terrace says:
Sue, marty was offered job in coney island, but unfortunately, Shoot The Freak was shut down,
Oct. 17, 2011, 8:53 am
John from Williamsburg says:
Take it easy on Marty and his first lady. The fact that you even know his name shows that he does everything he can to promote Brooklyn in the press and abroad. This is essentially what the borough presidents' job has been whittled down to. Can you name the presidents of all the other boroughs? Most likely no, but everyone knows Marty 'cause he's out there doing stuff and working. The fact that he showed up at the event is to his credit.
Oct. 17, 2011, 3:26 pm
Also John from Williamsburg says:
Also, the police are not the enemy. They are workers the same as we are and it helps nothing to antagonize or demonize them. They experience the same financial struggles and frustrations as we do. They arrest protesters when ordered to because if they don't they will be unemployed and homeless.
Oct. 17, 2011, 3:26 pm
Diane from Park Slope says:
They are protesting greed? Seriously the need to look amongst themselves. They price of living in PS is downright outrageous. Anyone trying to find a place in the area should be protesting the landlords who charge an exhorbant amount of rent to live in a shoe box I say shame on them.
Oct. 18, 2011, 11:42 am

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