A parade of celebrities has poured into Zuccotti Park since the Occupy Wall Street movement began more than a month ago, attracting the likes of everyone from Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore to “Gossip Girl” star Penn Badgley.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson swung by Monday night, where he linked arms with protesters to form a barricade around a medical tent, which police wanted to take down. And Sarandon joined OWS protesters at a rally outside Sotheby’s yesterday.
But some of the big-name visitors may be merely trying to capitalize off the international attention the protest has garnered, say some.
“It’s good for their egos,” said Doug Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College.
“On one hand, this guy is from a past era and is past his prime, looking for attention,” he said of Jackson. “Or, at one time, and even now, he stood for things this movement seems to be standing for.”
And most of the celebrity visitors easily fall into Occupy’s much-maligned “1 percent”: Kanye West tweets about the challenges of Persian rug shopping and what it’s like to fly in private jets, and Sarandon admitted she went to Zuccotti Park on her way to the airport — where she boarded a flight to Italy.
Even Democratic politicians like former New York Gov. David Patterson and New York City Rep. Charlie Rangel, who both stopped by, may not always be welcome.
“It adds an air of legitimacy,” said Muzzio. “It has an uplifting effect. But at the same time, given the sense of the Occupy Wall Street folks, the Rangels and the Patersons and other politicians of the world are not necessarily their allies in this.”
“In terms of electoral politics, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Going down there can’t hurt careers because, in a sense, they don’t have any.”
Islam joins the party
This Friday, members of the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations will hold their Friday prayer with Occupy Wall Street. Friday prayer, or “jummah,” will begin at 1 p.m. in Zuccotti Park. A sermon will be delivered on social justice in Islam by Imam Aiyub Abdul Baki of the Islamic Leadership Council.
OWS: The celebrity protest of choice
Some have compared the Occupation’s outrage to that of the Tea Party. But David Birdsell, dean of the school of public affairs at Baruch College, said Occupy Wall Street is a more attractive forum for celebrities to be associated with. “There aren’t major negatives with this in the same way charges of racism were leveled with the early phases of the Tea Party,” he said.
Batman comes to Occupy
Zuccotti Park is ready for its close-up. “The Dark Night Rises,” the new Batman flick, will be filming in NYC for two weeks starting Oct. 29 and some scenes will include the Occupy Wall Street protests, according to the L.A. Times. The protests won’t be part of the plot, but add a “gritty authenticity,” the paper reports.
Mayoral conflict of interest?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday that he keeps Occupy Wall Street out of his relationship. Bloomberg shares a home with girlfriend Diana Taylor, who sits on the board of directors for Brookfield Office Properties — the company that owns Zuccotti Park.
When asked whether he has discussed the movement with his girlfriend, Bloomberg responded, “I can tell you that pillow talk in our house is not about Occupy Wall Street or Brookfield Properties.”
Brookfield has allowed protesters to camp in the park for more than a month, but Bloomberg continues to express concern over its deteriorating condition.
Brookfield told protesters the park would be temporarily cleared for cleaning last Friday and that protesters’ gear would not be allowed back in. The cleaning was called off after protesters vowed to form a human barricade around the park.