50 Portraits From Occupy Wall Street (Slideshow)

Days at protest: One week. What brings you here? “I know the truth.” Do you have a message? “Wall Street, the Feds, the IRS, they don’t belong here.”
Days at protest: Since Saturday. What brings you here? "Seeking legal advice after having been arrested on Saturday as a bystander." Do you have a message? “Wall Street: We’re watching.”
Days at protest: "Since day one." What brings you here? "This is the platform for the new paradigm." Do you have a message? “We’re all in this together. We’re getting screwed by our inability to be honest.”
Days at protest: Five. What brings you here? “I heard about it on the news, and saw that this was a whole new mindset. I give up to date weather reports for protestors on my Twitter: @occupywallstwx. Do you have a message? “Rain, sleet, snow, hell no, we won’t go.”
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First day of protest. What brings you here? “I wanted to join the cause for change.” Do you have a message? “It’s time for change, to reinvision our deeply racist and misogynistic culture.”
First day at protests. What brings you here? “I don’t have a financial future set up for me by any institution. Not the banks, not the colleges, not Wall Street. At this point I don’t feel comfortable trying to start a family here.” Do you have a message?: “To the NYPD and the protestors: There’s a lot of tension on both sides, and a lot of hating. It’s wrong to dehumanize either side, to judge anyone based on political beliefs. They (the NYPD) are people too.”
What brings you here? “Every other good country is protesting their institutions, and I’m out to support the protest of our financial one.” Do you have a message?: “What big banks are doing is criminal.”
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What brings you here? “To get the message out 99 percent of the population has one percent of the pie. I don’t belong to any one group here; I am self-conscious to the situation.” Do you have a message?: “The message is spontaneous. There is corruption in the market and a need for social change.”
What brings you here? “Student loans are crazy.” Do you have a message? “Not that I want to say openly.”
First day of protests. What brings you here? “Seeing those police brutality videos.” Do you have a message? “Support local business, don’t go to WalMart.”
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Protesting for several hours. What brings you here? “I wanted to photograph what was going on here.” Do you have a message?: “I really wish more people were out here to witness this from a humanitarian perspective.”
Days spent protesting: "The entire time." What brings you here? “I came for solidarity and support.” Do you have a message? “Give us our future back.”
What do you do? “Went on a bunch of interviews today.” What brings you here? “I came here to eat.”
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Protesting since Day One. What brings you here? “With the way things are going in the country, I can’t provide for others…I can’t provide for my girlfriend. I’m not here with any group, I’m more about compassion.” Do you have a message? “To Wall Street: Start caring about the people.”
Days at protest: Three. What brings you here?: “Everyone I know is in trouble financially. Mortgages that can’t be paid, can’t pay for kids’ college, then the kids go to college and can’t get jobs. Veterans are coming home and finding that there’s nothing for them.” Do you have a message? “Most of the police are decent people; we’d appreciate it if they didn’t splash us.”
Days at protest: Since this Saturday. What brings you here: “I was just hopping freight trains, ended up here.” Do you have a message?: “Kill your television.”
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Days at protest: Since this Saturday. What brings you here: “I knew people that were going to protest, and I ended up staying here.” Do you have a message?: “No.”
Days at protest: Two. What brings you here: “I came here to cover the story, but I totally support the protestors. This country is having a complete meltdown. We torture people. My question is: Why NOT be here?” Do you have a message?: “The New York Times can suck a dick. Nothing in D.C. is going to change. Campusprogress.org isn’t supporting this, but they throw money at liberal white kids from Ivy League schools.
What brings you here? "I had to see it for myself, I’ve been following the Occupy Wall Street hashtags on Twitter, and heard a lot of conflicting reports: that this protest is just hippies, that it didn’t have a central focus.” Does it have a central focus? “Not yet. But I’m more concerned that we’re no longer top trending on Twitter.” Do you have a message? “No message, but I sympathize with wanting corporate interests out of my government.”
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Days at protest: “Came down last night trying to find friends, but my phone died.” What brings you here? “I felt this protest was legitimized when people started getting arrested.” Do you have a message? “I want to be excited.”
What brings you here?: “I heard they were protesting against Wall Street, and I agreed.”/ First day at protest Do you have a message? “To Wall Street: Get a job, it’s not that hard.”
First day at protests. What brings you here? “My friend Kevin, he is leading this one assembly. You should really talk to him.” Do you have a message? “It’s cool that people are gathering.”
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What brings you here? "My friend Kevin is part of this local movement, and I’m here with him. He’ll be back here in a minute, he can tell you all about what’s going on." Do you have a message? “This is what everyone is always thinking about, but no one does anything. Glad it’s finally happening.”
Protesting since Saturday. What brings you here? “Protesting a new form of fascism: the collusion of corporations and politics." What happened to you? "I was pepper-sprayed by the police yesterday. They were trying to fragment the crowd, to get everyone running and confused. They were trying to create a scene when there wasn’t a confrontation to begin with." Do you have a message? “I’d like an apology from the NYPD.”
What brings you here? "I felt it was important to be here just to support what was going on. But my experience here changed my perspective." You were also pepper-sprayed? “Yes. Once I witnessed them hurting my friends, it changed how I felt about the protests. I try not to talk to the police, and I was still sprayed…it was obvious they were handling the situation in a way to create chaos." Do you have a message? “Mutual respect. I wish they (the NYPD) would chill out.”
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Protesting: "Since the beginning." What brings you here? “The political system in this country has been hijacked by special interests. There are things we can change.” Do you have a message? “To Wall Street: Nobody is telling you to give up everything, just enough for everyone to have something.”
Protesting since the 17th. What brings you here? “I want to get educated about this country, and I wanted to strengthen this community.” Do you have a message? “I would like to see us manifest some positivity.”
What brings you here? “I like to be near excitement.” Do you have a message? “Just a general sense of injustice. We want to be left alone.”
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Protesting since the first day. What brings you here? "I first heard about in on Tumblr, saw the planning of General Assembly and Adbusters as early as July. They were really the first ones doing this." Did you hear Rage Against the Machine might be playing later? "They’re a little before my time." Do you have a message? “I want a horizontal-directed democracy.”
What brings you here? "We come out for unity, out of consciousness. We’re here for love, not hate. Would you like some ginger crackers? An apple?” Do you have a message? “Love.”
First day of protest. What brings you here?: “A general interest in the whole movement; sympathy.” Do you have a message? “We’re here with you, we’re not against you.”
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What brings you here? “Feeling out the vibe...we want to bring in a lot of love.” Do you have a message? “All you need is love.”
What brings you here? “Heard about it on Internet forums. I am discouraged by this capitalist economy that is destroying our resources and the planet. Do you have a message? “Stop treating the world like it’s a way to make money.”
Days at protest: Two. What brings you here? “The stuff that’s been going on with our economic issues, and the fact that this is not being talked about in the media.” Do you have a message? “We’re here to open minds.”
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Days at protest: Two. What brings you here? “I got a lot of messages from friends to come document the event. I’m here for the education and the networking.” Do you have a message? “Colleges and universities are putting people in debt before they start their lives. Banks lend us the money to go to school, but they won’t provide jobs after. You can’t declare bankruptcy on college loans, and there are no opportunities out there for graduates.”
What do you do? "I’ve been doing organizing since I was 15, and I thought I wanted to join the state department...but not anymore. Now I set up Facebook groups to organize these type of events. I help educate people on federal and local laws, and set up contingency plans." What would your advice be to people who just got here? "Education is key, as opposed to going off and becoming the crowds. Relax and make friends. Situate yourself with a medic station, and then go watch one of the General Assemblies. No one is in charge here...the snake has no head. Offer to help."
Just arrived at protests. What brings you here? “I’ve been following the Livestream, and I wanted to show support…find out more about the message.” Have you found out what it is yet? “Not yet.” Do you have a message? “I’m really happy to see young people stand up to something so big.”
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What brings you here? “I really think society needs a change, and soon.” Do you have a message? “Get involved or it’s not going to happen.”
Days at protest: Two. What brings you here? “I firmly believe in fiscal reform. There’s no reason banks should get bailouts for their mistakes.” Do you have a message? “Don’t listen to people who say this protest is useless. This will add up.”
What brings you here? "My teacher told me that he’d gone to take some photos, so I started looking it up. I’m wandering around, I’m not really a part of the movement, though I love how Anonymous started this whole peaceful protest thing." Do you have a message? “Love and peace.”
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Days at protest: Three. What brings you here? “I wasn’t going to participate until I saw people getting arrested for wearing the Anonymous masks. I have one, so I put it on and came down here as a show of solidarity.” Are you part of Anonymous? “I’m not, but I pay attention to what they’re doing. I don’t always agree with their tactics, but I think they’re going in the right direction.” Do you have a message? “To everyone not here, come see what we’re doing. Check it out online if you don’t live nearby. It’s at least something to see.”
What brings you here? “We were retained for our services by General Assembly until Friday. I have stayed to educate, not advocate. I’m here if you have legal questions. What does your firm do? "We work with mass defense following demonstrations. Our firm does a lot of work with Rev. Al Sharpton's non-profit, the National Action Network."
What brings you here? "To help foster a protest culture. It’s easy to make fun of this protest, and it’s easy to be complacent. At least these people wanted to show that they were fed up!” Do you have a message? “I hate when people ask what are these protesters demands. As if they would be listened to!”
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Days at protest: Five out of the 10. What brings you here? "My sister got me involved, and now I’m helping bring provisions. I think we originally heard about it through Adbusters’s campaign." Do you have a message? “Not really. I was trying to buy some of the art here, but they say they don’t know how to facilitate the selling of it.
What brings you here? "I knew about it from various activism channels. I worked at the Independent, was arrested two years ago during a healthcare march. This is my kind of thing." Do you have a message? “I have a song called ‘Don’t You Want to Be Free?’ And I feel like finally I’m watching people understand that more. It no longer feels like I’m writing songs in a vacuum.”
Days at protest: Nine. What brings you here? "Everyone in Portland was talking about it. I came here to offer my perspective to the group. Since they seem to be more radical, I want to widen the debate to include the health of our land. What you’re seeing is a lot of purely political discussion, which leaves out the crisis that we’re murdering the Earth." Do you have a message? “We must impede the structures of power that are destroying our land basis and all discussions will come after. I see tipping points galore: soil is not the least of them, and still soil is depleting 20 times faster than it can be replenished.
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Days at protest: 8 out of 10. What brings you here? “I found out about Occupy Wall Street through the rapper Lupe Fiasco, and then decided to look into it for myself." Do you have a message? “Don’t underestimate the power of the people.”
Days at protest: All of them. What brings you here? “Lupe Fiasco plugged it on his website, saying that we all need to stand up in his L.A.S.E.R.S. Manifesto.” Do you have a message? "Our education system is broken; we need to work on literacy in the United States."
Days at protest: Two and coming back. What brings you here? “Read about it online. Wall Street in general is run by the richest one percent of the people, and the other 99 percent don’t have a say. People should be equal, not living in a fake democracy. Do you have a message? “Come down here. This is the place to fight.”
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Days at protest: One overnight last week, and then today. What brings you here? “I heard about it on Current TV. A lot of what is being said I agree with. Just standing up for injustice in general." Do you have a message? “Everyone at some point has to choose between privilege and power, or justice and the truth. I’ve chosen the latter.”

Last night, The New York Observer joined hundreds as they marched, rallied, ate, and protested (generally) during the tenth straight day of Occupy Wall Street. Michael Moore was there. Depending on who you talked to, this event was set up by Adbusters, a group called General Assembly, or Anonymous. There was a press center, although not a lot of information being distributed. There was, at one point, free pizza.

But you don’t need another eyewitness account of the bedlam down on Wall Street. Instead, we thought we’d do something a little different and show you the actual faces behind the protest…have them tell you what they considered the issues they were fighting for/against. Sure, the answers might be have been vague (at best), and apparently 90 percent of the current “Occupy Wall Street” crew ismade up of people who had heard something about it on the Internet, showed up as a bystander, and then decided to stick around. But as one of our more (in)famous faces would say, “At least they’re not being complacent!”

(All photos by Marielle Solan.)

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