50 Portraits From Occupy Wall Street (Slideshow)

  • 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.)

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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.”

  • 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!”

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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.”


  1. Liz Glover says:

    DC misses you, Riley!   

  2. Robin says:

    what’s the symbol on her neck?  doesn’t jive with student loans…

    1. Susan says:

      The tattoo? Looks like the Atheist symbol I’ve seen around. Or not.

  3. Robin says:

    Riley Waggamon – you sir, are an idiot!  Cover the story – you don’t even know what the story is about!

    1. Okay. Calm down, angry Teabagger. We’re all in this together, fellow Teabagger.

    2. doktor_zoom says:

      So, OK, Robin, what *is* the story about? The necessity of returning to the gold standard? The need to finish the dang fence? The threat posed by the Reptilians? 

  4. Robin says:

    This slideshow did more harm than good for this movement. 

    1. Anonymous says:

      Interesting.  I thought the exact opposite.

      1. Wow says:

        Then you, my friend, are mistaken. These quotes could be placed next to some of Mike Tyson’s in one of those “Guess who said this” games and they would be completely indistinguishable. Incoherent, aimless blabber.

        If you don’t have a message or aren’t smart enough to facilitate a means to accomplish something other than standing around and yelling at buildings, then please don’t act like you know what you’re talking about. We get enough empty sound bites from Washington.

        Seriously, the kid who said “I just came down here to get something to eat” was by far the smartest person of the bunch.

      2. GaiaLogic says:

        You’re making a whole lot of assumptions there, now who’s the idiot?

      3. Anonymous says:

        “We get enough empty sound bites from Washington.”  True. But do be careful.  You’re parroting them.

    2. Anonymous says:


    3. Kris says:

      I agree.  The pictures are great, but more senior citizens who have lived a long time and seen the changes is needed.  I’m one and wish I could be there.

    4. Pete says:

      I Agree

    5. Realist says:

      I really hope this was not a representative sample from the protests. I believe in this movement, but wouldn’t stand behind these 50. There are people who work with more than light healing there, right?

  5. Ladida555 says:

    This does a lot more harm harm than good.

  6. Keep on rockin’ Riley and company!

  7. Monsieur Grumpe says:

    Seems likea nice bunch of people. You’re all invited to my house for dinner. BYOB

    1. alia says:

      They really are. Four of them came to cook at my house for an afternoon, and not only did they clean up after themselves in the kitchen, they tidied up my living room, too. (I have two small children. This was not an easy or simple task.) They came from the Bronx, New Jersey, Seattle and Egypt to help make the world a better place. I love them each and every one.

  8. Chase Kruppo is the man in the picture.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Who says this movement doesn’t have a leader?  His name’s Kevin.  He’s around here somewhere.

    Also, #31 has sort of a Penelope Cruz look going on.

  10. Litig8nj says:

    Hey, Riley! Cover the shit out of that thing. The revolution is not being televised or radio broadcast, either, apparently.

  11. Portraits of 50 Wall Street protesters:

  12. Joann T. says:

    Aw, hi, Thor! I agree with your message to Wall Street. Please give them a big ol’ one finger salute for me!

  13. Jkarl says:

    Provide for his girlfriend? This is exactly the misogynistic, chivalrous drivel that drives bankers and wall street to fatten their bonuses to find gold-digging wives. Break down the patriarchal framework that enslaves us all and allows this horror to continue, Kyle!

  14. Alex K says:

    I looked through all fifty. A bunch of kids spouting platitudes who are shocked and appalled that occupations like ‘painter,’ ‘artist,’ ‘musician’ and ‘nothing’ haven’t brought in the big bucks for them to be able to provide for themselves, their families, and their friends. So money is evil, right? The evil money-obsession is keeping them from thriving as painters? — And what will replace money as a mode of peaceful exchange, for these losers? “Love and peace!” Oh, okay, then.

    There’s a reason you people aren’t being covered: you’re a bunch of aimless losers with nothing better to do than sit around chanting mindless platitudes all day at people who couldn’t care less.

    1. So money is evil, right?

      If case you didn’t notice, Wall Street brought the entire U.S. economy down between 2002 and 2008 via credit default swaps and a massive asset bubble “insured” by same.  Since then, the plutocrats who masterminded that debacle have been bailed out.

      Now, they and the politicians they own want the rest of us to pay for it (and their wars for corporate profits) with our Social Security and the rest of our safety net.

      Was that clear enough for you, Alex K.?

      1. 35N4P2B says:

        I am with you on the crony capitalism, government should never be in a position to pick winners and losers, and it was the exactly this collusion and the associated market distortions that led directly to the market collapse that you describe. The best example of this is Fannie and Freddy. This quasi governmental / private Frankenstein’s monster underwrote many of these “risky” mortgages which were then split off into various exotic financial vehicles. 

        Understand though that the it was the bipartisan legislative policy that owning a home was the key to building wealth that created the bubble. Were there bad actors, yes. But whenever government creates incentives to play the system, the system will be played. The key then is to remove government from the mix. 

        The solution to regulatory gamesmanship is not creating more regulations to be gamed and more regulatory barriers to  jump over to enter then market. Over regulated markets (like the real estate market) are inherently more expensive to enter.

  15. Yesgodo says:

    You people are inspiring! Portland, Oregon stands with you.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I’ll be at the Portland, Oregon takeover march October 6th. 

      1. The_OverLady says:

        As will I.

  16. Global says:

    70’s Vietnam Anti-War Demo in DC met with Cn Gas

    011 Anti-Wall Demo met with Pepper Spray


  17. David says:

    Good on you, Bob!

  18. David Weinstein says:

    i think Craig is telling it like it is and America should be ashamed!

  19. Davi says:

    Happy New Year, Samuel.  Keep up the great work!

  20. David says:

    right, March Young.  Our current consumer society-Wall Street $ bottom line is destroying our home, our environment at an alarming rate.

  21. Nose says:

    Great that people protest, but they should have a solution in hand, someone Financially savvy in order to make sense, point out specific issues in an articulated manner; by the way what is that Coke doing in the back? 

  22. thank you so much, beautiful people <3

  23. Alan Gasser says:

    NY Times, huh?

  24. End the Wars, end the FED, stop the corruption!  Ron Paul 2012!

  25. RD says:

    Riley Waggaman, you’re awesome.

  26. Kris says:

    Totally agree.  Wish I could afford to be there.   It’s time to change the banking system, the presidential/congressional system, the corporate systems, the tax system, the environmental mess, the Wal-Mart system, etc. etc. etc.  We are all one people world-wide.  We need to support each other and make this world a better place to live.

  27. Kris says:

    Amber Oestreich, speak your mind openly.  You are right that student loans are crazy.  And you are at that time in your life to want to get a higher education.  So few can afford it and the banks rape you.  Thanks for being there.  Kris

  28. Kris says:

    I wish I could be there, Dasha S.  But can’t afford it.

  29. Kris says:

    Go, Felicity!

  30. Kris says:

    James Marshall, you’re immature and pointless.  This protest is extremely important and you make it look like you did it on a lark and you get publicity saying something stupid.  We need people who take these protests seriously.  Grow up!

  31. Kris says:

    Paulina Dabroska, this protest needs people who really believe the cause, not just following  a friend.

  32. stylebeagle says:

    Intern Riley is all grown up. Go Waggs!!

  33. Rpalmer4905 says:

    Thank you for these portraits of caring souls.

  34. Lena Lenin says:

    Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

  35. The Kingfish says:

    Russell Delacruz from California, 20: 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.”

    This young man is smart, and he demonstrates this is not just some sideshow.

  36. grrrstick says:

    #32 is a strong 7.  The rest probably don’t shave. Why do all these hippies have to be so dirty?

  37. Worsel says:

    25? he’s had a hard life.

  38. To these protesters: Get a better message, please! I have a million messages you can use… Here are some… END THE FED! Abolish the IRS! Federally prosecute Wall Street criminals NOW! Obama hired the same Wall Street execs that caused the 2008 crisis to work in his administration—FIRE THEM ALL! Hang the bankers! Give us our money back! We refuse to pay taxes to bail out these banks! Wall Street IS the Zombie Apocalypse! Restore the Constitution! Restore the Republic! Down with the Police State! LIBERTY OR DEATH! Iran: Because the government wants an excuse to tax you at 100%! BAIL OUT THE PEOPLE! College is a scam! I have to raise chickens guerrilla-style  in the city because you bastards stole my omlette money! You can thank Wall Street for tomorrow’s HYPERINFLATION. Crash JP Morgan—Buy silver!

  39. I would like a ginger cracker, an apple and most importantly the “Love”! 

  40. Guest says:

    What else is the World for? What you people ought to be doing is organising around proper revolution: anarcho revolution.

  41. Nkycatnip says:

    you guys ROCK!!! thank you soooo much, :)

  42. that linen looks great.  nice to see light airy fabrics on display.

  43. when i think of protest, i’ll remember to replace my mental pictures with hoodies instead of hoods.  great pout.  but a more liberal use of hair gel might have given this shot a more retro feel.

  44. the shag and bangs are back in, but madras bermudas don’t mix well with the single pocket tee from old navy.

  45. John Mcclane says:

    Film Maker, Artist, Freelance etc are all euphemisms for UNEMPLOYED.  And more often than not I am assuming its not because of the economy or Wall Street.  These people just need a cause while their parents pay for their rent in Williamsburg and their art supplies.  Wasting tax payer money while they ridicule people working 12+ hours a day to make something of themselves.

  46. Paula Parkaer says:

    Ah, another generation thinking Washington will hear them…….

  47. Big_red says:

    His name is J. Behan

  48. Lucy H says:

    Bob Levard +1 to you. “Stop treating the world like it’s a way to make money.” I very much so agree. 

  49. Ardenkinver says:

    These protestors are human vermin. Which is a shame, because it could be a worthy cause.

  50. What a fabulous personification of movement – Music would bring it to life. I believe in the 99% for anyone that has a voice and is less than satisfied with how our country sits today. 

  51. Moparbrownstoner says:

    The unemployed construction worker breaks my heart, I love his message.

  52. Krusniak27 says:

    Not everyone in the protest may be able to put into words their discontent, but I think the important issue is that they recognize there is something amiss and they want more acknowledgement.  Big businesses just roll us up into numbers that owe owe owe them money or cost them money *gasp* and this is normal.  Or is it?

  53. The man in the picture( #7) is me. Thanks for an awesome new pic for my profile.

  54. Thomas Jefferson says:

    “I don’t have a financial future set up for me by any institution.”

    At what point did people forget that the American Dream involves doing things for yourself?!?  These protestors just want to be taken care of, like children, for the rest of their lives.

  55. Anonymous says:

    OK, so the gay woman can’t shave her armpits, gross, and yet she thinks society is misogynistic? Islam is misogynistic, the US isn’t. She wants people to like her better? Start by shaving the armpits!

  56. I.M.RIGHT AGAIN says:

    I have his name:

  57. Anonymous says:

    those pics must have been taken early on. I was there yesterday 10-26-11 and it looked like a bunch of homeless and burned out people. very few had any idea as to what was going on. maybe all the intelligent clean ones were in committee meetings. it had more of a post apocalyptic circus feel then a protest-revolution movement

  58. The cupboards in her kitchen were full of things she did not need.I don’t think you are right.Take me to the airportplease.I’m sure we can get you a great good dealHe was efficient in his work.The secret was spread among the crowd.The secret was spread among the crowd.I am a football fan.I could hardly speak.We need more than listening.