50 Portraits From the Occupy Wall Street Megamarch

Why brought you down here today? "I initially came to look at this historic event, but now I’m seeing ways of getting involved. We just found this sign, and thought it was fabulous. Wake up! Wake up from the American Dream!"
What brought you here today? "I think the inequities in our society have reached a point where it’s hard to believe. It’s astounding. Everybody knows most of the statistics: the 1%, how they have the majority of wealth in this country. That there are 400 people in the United States that have more than 150 million others combined. That one-fifth of New Yorkers are at or below the poverty level. My sign in particular is about the inequities in salaries…for example the NYPD income of around $55,000, and the average CEO’s salary, which is $9.6 million. We’re talking about people who go out there every day, and sometimes they don’t come home. They do great things that I know about, personally. And then you have people who sit in an office all day and play around with numbers. You’re talking about something so fundamentally wrong in our culture, I just had to come out."
What brought you here today? "I think it’s great what the Occupy Wall Street people are doing: they’ve captured the imagination of the country, they’re pointing their fingers at the right people. They are saying that there is a class war going on, and working people are losing, and this is wrong. They’ve taken their inspiration from Arab Spring, and I think that that’s good. It’s a movement that’s evolving, that’s changing. At the beginning if you looked at (Occupy Wall Street’s) website, there were no points of unity: there was nothing about jobs, nothing about unions. But now they’re starting to think stuff out. This takes time: Democracy’s messy, and this is a form of democracy."
What brought you here today? "I got two layoff letters, and I’m about to lose my job. I’m here to lend my support, to be here for the people who don’t want to be here."
What do you think of the scene today? "I think people have a right to outraged by the way banks have been bailed out without any consequence. I don’t think anyone’s done a very good job conveying what it actually feels like to be down here. It’s a little bit of a tiny village, which is kind of cool. They have their media center, their food bank, there are people out there helping with health, there are guys doing security…they’ve recreated almost a private living community."
What do you think of the scene today? "I haven’t been to anything like this since I was 19. It’s pretty wild. I can’t even say I have an opinion on it. It’s sort of like smoking pot for the first time: you’re not quite sure whether you are high or not."
What brought you down here today? "I was watching a lot of this online, and figured that I should come down here and check it out."
What brought you down here today? "I am very concerned with the effects of banking crimes, which I call crimes against the population. People are having such a hard time finding work, while Wall Street’s top executives are getting multi-million dollar bonuses. It’s just so out of proportion when the economy is failing. This is such a wealthy country, yet the wealth has been diverted to war. We’ve been in a bubble economy, which is of no value to the mainstream population: the 99 %."
What is your message? "Americans are not remembering how cruel English colonialism is. You want to use the English language to spread the ideology of unionism, but the language comes from the most de-unionized, industrial section of the world."
What brought you down here today? "I’m here to try and make sure that business and government stay separate. It sickens me that our own leaders, our own government is so bought out that I owe $120,00 for college, everyone around me is laid off, and computer-programming jobs are going to India. You can’t win, they never stop, no matter how hard you try. I want my government back. Business should be separate from government, like church and state."
What’s your message? "Fraud. 700 of those bridge protesters were arrested. How many people that committed that huge crime on Wall Street have been arrested?"
What brought you down here today? "To relive my past."
What brought you down here today? "Fighting for jobs, I’m tired of corporate greed."
What brought you down here today? "Many things…My main thing is just a complete overhaul of everything. I think the only thing to do is start from the ground up with a new law system…which is not going to happen, obviously. But what can you do? You fight for what you can. I don’t think anything is going to change at all, but I’m here anyway."
What brought you down here today? "I think the problems of the country boil down to the problems of the vast inequality of wealth, the power of those in the financial sector, and we need to fight for a more fair economy for everybody."
What brought you down here today? "We have a very unequal society and it’s time that we showed the world…and showed the U.S. population that we need to do something about it. We need jobs, we don’t need more bailouts. The banks need to invest in jobs and small businesses, not sit on millions and trillions of dollars to put on the sideline."
What brought you down here today? "This is where everything’s at. This is the center of everything. This is where we should be, where we should have been two years ago. How can you miss it? There’s definitely an energy down here, and it’s good. It’s what needs to happen, and it feels great."
What do you think of the scene today? "I think it’s great. I think it sends a great message that you have to stop with corporate greed run amok. It screwed our economy: we have 11 % unemployment in New York state alone. Things need to change. We need to hold Wall Street accountable, or we’re all going to get screwed."
What’s the Humanist Party? "It’s part of a local organization, but it’s a national group. I think it started in South America. We’re for social justice and change."
What brings you here today? "Fight for justice."
What brought you down here today? "I’ve actually been down here since the beginning with General Assembly. I actually wrote the Declaration of Occupation that’s in the papers. What brings me down here is that I’m sick and tired of corporatism in America: the merging of corporations and government, corporate influence on government decisions. We’re here to let it be known that we’re not going to take it anymore."
What brought you down here today? "I don’t believe money should control the political will of the people. I have a UFT (United Federation of Teachers) cap, but I’m here because I should be here."
What brought you down here today? "Social-economic inequality. I think this march is fantastic; it’s part of a revolution."
What brought you down here today? "Peace."
What brought you down here today? "I’ve been following this since before Day One. I was very cynical, I didn’t think people were actually going to stay. But I got here a couple hours before the demonstrations, because I heard the bull was barricaded, and I filmed that. The cops gave me a really hard time. Since then I’ve just been filming everything. (Note: We saw Johnny filming from atop a telephone pole earlier in the evening.) I actually just released a video I made after being arrested on the bridge on Saturday. It’s called 'Occupation Blues.'"
What brought you down here today? "Just to support everyone, to let Wall Street and Bloomberg know that we are behind this movement. There has been a lot of corruption these past few years and a lot of apathy, but I think this movement is going to help. I think this nation is at a tipping point, and if we don’t do something about it, our economy is just going downhill. I like the fact that everyone here has their own thing going on…there are a lot of different organizations, so it’s not a collective with one message. But I think that’s good, because that means everyone can come down here and feel like they’re being represented. All of us here might have our own little thing going on, but all of us are in agreement that what’s going on in the world of financing is completely wrong."
What do you think of the scene today? "First I want you to look at my button. It says in Japanese, 'Nuclear Power? No thank you.' I think [the march] is great. I’ve been coming and visiting the people on Occupy Wall Street, and I think they have a very genuine message, very heartfelt. It’s okay that it’s developing, rather than starting out with a very specific demand. It’s gradually getting the media’s attention."
What brought you down here today? "I’m just venting my frustration like everyone else. It’s the tax laws that favor the wealthy, the huge disparity between the rich and the poor in this country, and the lack of accountability for these Wall Street bankers, which is where the global financial crisis originated."
What brought you down here today? "All kinds of reasons, and the ability to get my voice out."
What brought you down here today? "To support the people in the park. To march for a new revival of the Glass-Steagall Act, a financial transaction tax, and an end to the carried income exemption that allows hedge fund managers to pay 15 % tax as capital gains when people flipping burgers at McDonald’s pay more than that."
What do you think of the scene today? "I think it’s the incredible that there’s so many people out to support the cause of being part of the 99 %."
What do you think of the scene today? "Awesome."
What did you think of the walk-outs today? "They were wonderful. My professor ended class early so we could all go down there together, so that was cool."
What brought you down here today? "I was a student; I come to the U.S. for Council of Change. I come to support these people, because I have same problem where I come from."
What do you think of the scene today? "I think it’s great. Everyone has an issue they are lobbying behind, and I could probably qualify to be with multiple positions. I’ve been unemployed for the past three years after my project was dismissed when Lehman Brothers fell out. It was a health project…I was involved with social work. But right now I’m just here as an observer and reporter."
What brought you down here today? "I was very curious to see democracy at work, to see all the people coming out and what they had to say. I’m not sure that everyone knows what they are here for, but just the fact that they are all here and participating is a wonderful thing."
What did you think of the walk-outs today? "Well the walk-outs were actually the PSA, the graduate student union, who were walking out together in support of labor rights. I definitely believe in the people power here; there are a lot of different messages, and this is an opportunity for a lot of conversations. For a lot groups to come together and have an open discussion...that’s what I think the main thing is now."
What does your sign mean? "I’m looking for a sugar-daddy to support me. Not like, an actual father."
What is that you’re holding? "It symbolizes that the chickens are coming home to roost. Happy Rosh Hashanah."
Are you associated with a union? "No, I’m here by myself. Well not really by myself, I’m here with everybody. This is huge, the biggest family it could ever be. I’m here primarily because there is a lot of injustice going on, and this is nothing that should be approved of. We definitely need to change a lot of things in the system."
So you’re the guy behind organizing all these unions today? "No, I’m not the guy. I represent one of many. We represent 97 different unions and several million workers across the United States. We joined up because, not to put to fine a point on it, they’ve been porking us for years. If you’re two days late on paying your credit card, your interest goes up 35% . What is that about?"
What brought you down here today? "Our horrible economic situation, and the fact that 1 % of this country controls 99 % of the wealth. I think that we need to tax the rich, support the arts, and have health care for everyone. Unfortunately the media is not asking the right questions. We have a mayor worth $20 million; he and his friends could probably balance the budget of New York City and still walk away with more money than most people have seen in their entire life. So how about that, Mayor Bloomberg?"
What brought you down here today? "I’m here to show solidarity for everyone in Occupy Wall Street. I’m happy to be here as part of all the other community organizations that are here. I feel like this movement needs a little bit of organization. People are doing great things with Twitter and getting the message out. But in order for things to happen and the message to really get out, they need to come up with some demands, some kind of unified message. So having other organizations work on that is a really good thing."
What brought you down here today? "I saw all the unions signing up, and I said that I had to come down. I’ve worked in publishing, in the non-profit sector, and as a teacher…and it’s just been cutbacks all the way. People need to get in on this occupation. They need to be part of this. It’s not going to happen unless they take advantage of what is happening right now."
What brought you down here today? "I’m here for America’s children. If we don’t bring down the corporations a few steps, the rich a few steps, and the banks a few steps, there will be nothing left for the next generation."
What brought you down here today? "I’m sick of tuition going up, school quality going down, and bankers getting all the money. That’s money that could be used for my tuition, money that could be used to fix things. Like why are our escalators always broken? Why are the printers at school always broken? Like what the hell? Please start taxing the millionaires fairly so that everyone else can have a chance!"
What brought you down here today? "I support the people-ization of all people."
What brought you down here today? "I’m helping with security, but also I came down just to listen, to see what people need. As soon as everybody knows what the hell they want, they can just let me know: I’ll do it."
What brought you down here today? "I’ve done a lot of art for social change. I heard that this was going to happen at least three years ago, that the economy was going to crash. I had a friend who worked at NewsWatch, and she used to be a stockbroker. She told me the economy was going to collapse because of these “superfunds,” which is basically the million and trillions of dollars that corporations were pooling together into international markets. So it was basically this Ponzi scheme, where they paid everything that was successful first, and then after that they were trying to look for government bailout money to try and cover any losses. She told me it would be hidden behind these real estate schemes. So she actually predicted everything exactly as it was going to happen. I researched it myself: do you know that if you go on the websites for these superfunds, you have to sign a waiver just to look at their information? It’s just crazy. I just had to come out and support what was happening."
Julie Finch at last night's Megamarch (Photos via Marielle Solan)

Yesterday afternoon it was sunny and warm. By this point, we almost knew the way to Zuccotti Park by heart. But the huge Megamarch planned for Wednesday didn’t start in the recently renamed Liberty Plaza: it began (for us at least) at Foley Square, right across from the steps where they filmed Law & Order. In the tiny park, union workers and students streamed in from either side of Worth Street and Broadway; history in the making. Their numbers were in the thousands. It was epic.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

It was also exhausting. We may have sat down for a smoke break on the steps of 60 Centre Street, where we may have run into an ex from long ago, who may or may not currently be a city council member.

“I’m confused,” this hypothetical friend said, “I thought these were supposed to be all these young liberals, but I just saw a sign that said ‘Destroy the Federal Reserve.’ Are the Ron Paul Libertarians involved in this now?”

We wished we had an answer for him. Yesterday’s Megamarch contained a much more diverse group of people than our first portrait excursion last week. With the unions added, we spoke to men and women who were well past retirement age; With the student walk-outs, we also spoke to people young enough to be their grandkids. And while everyone seemed to have gotten Jesse LaGreca‘s memo on how to talk to journalists and staying on message with the 99 % line, the range in ages, lifestyles, and yes — socio-economic background — yesterday’s rally was ultimately a testament to the American melting pot of dissatisfaction. A reoccurring slogan we heard almost as much as “This is what democracy looks like!” was “This isn’t a real rally, you should have been there for the WTO/Vietnam/RNC demonstration.”

It wasn’t all bad though. At the very least, we got to experience what it was like to have an 80-year-old woman school us on proper police etiquette, should we ever be arrested. “Always carry your I.D. and $25 in your wallet for bail,” we were told, and assumed that our new friend wasn’t counting inflation.

Here then, are 50 portraits displaying the range of people we saw yesterday: students, union workers, lawyers, the unemployed, the disenfranchised, the media news hosts….all of them. Enjoy.

Photos courtesy of Marielle Solan

We noticed you're using an ad blocker.

We get it: you like to have control of your own internet experience.
But advertising revenue helps support our journalism.

To read our full stories, please turn off your ad blocker.
We'd really appreciate it.

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

How Do I Whitelist Observer?

Below are steps you can take in order to whitelist Observer.com on your browser:

For Adblock:

Click the AdBlock button on your browser and select Don't run on pages on this domain.

For Adblock Plus on Google Chrome:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Enabled on this site.

For Adblock Plus on Firefox:

Click the AdBlock Plus button on your browser and select Disable on Observer.com.

Then Reload the Page