Occupy Wall Street plans Sept. 17 event but members face burnout

Occupy Wall Street members during their May 1, May Day protest in New York City.
Miles Dixon/Metro

Occupy Wall Street will mark its first anniversary next month by trying to block traffic in the financial district and encircle the New York Stock Exchange.

Planning for the Sept. 17 protest, dubbed S17, follows months of internal debate and flagging interest, according to interviews with organizers.

“We are here to bring you to justice,” said Sean McKeown, a 32-year-old chemist and New York University graduate who’s helping organize the demonstration. “We’re offering you the chance to repent for your sins.”

But organizers now say there has been more fatigue than fresh thinking this year.

Occupy’s New York City General Assembly, which oversaw planning by consensus, ceased functioning in April because of infighting, ineffectiveness and low turnout, according to organizers and minutes of meetings. The group’s funds were frozen to preserve money for bail, ending most cash distributions, they said.

“Movements calcify, and it’s difficult to maintain the vigor and camaraderie,” said Travis Mushett, 26, a novelist who helped organize an Occupy reading group. He was one of six who used the word “burnout” to describe the recent mood.

“It really hasn’t sparked the same outrage,” said Akshat Tewary, an employment attorney who co-wrote a 325-page comment letter in February on bank regulation with the group Occupy the SEC. “It’s harder to maintain that kind of momentum.”

What’s planned for the morning of Sept. 17th?

The Sept. 17 protest, which will take place in the morning, include attempts to make citizens’ arrests of bankers, and some activists intend to bring handcuffs.

“We are just going to cause chaos, period,” said Drew Hornbein, 25, who helped develop the website for Occupy’s New York General Assembly.

They described the morning protest as a more ambitious and better-plotted version of a November attempt to disrupt the stock exchange, when the NYPD arrested 252 people.

The plan to block the financial district will follow anniversary celebrations planned for the weekend in New York, including a concert, open classes and town-square gatherings.

“This isn’t over,” said Dana Balicki, a member of Occupy’s press team. “This isn’t over until the last person calls it quits and goes home, wherever home is.”


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