For Occupy Wall Street, Rain, Crowds and Career Advice
CNBC.com Senior Writer
The boisterous musical parade of Occupy Wall Street protesters took an unfortunate right turn Tuesday and wound up in some unfriendly territory.
After tearing through a midtown Manhattan tour past a slew of big corporate offices, the noisy chants of the occupiers were interrupted on West 46th Street by a group of hard-hats not in the mood for populist rabble-rousing.
Whereas the OWS crowd proclaimed "we are the 99 Percent" and "banks got bailed out, we got sold out," a band of construction workers delivered chants of their own.
"Get-a-job! Get-a-job!" several workers atop a work site repeatedly hollered.
"Get a job! Stop wasting the cops' time!" yelled another, referring to the large detail of officers clad in riot gear that accompanied the Occupy procession.
"Occupy my b----!" another offered.
They were similiar exchanges with more colorful language such as...well, you can imagine what happens once a group of construction workers meets up with a band of raggedy-attired anti-capitalists.
It wasn't pretty, and certainly not suitable for a family web site.
But such were the ups and downs of Occupy Wall Street's May Daydemonstration, which certainly found its fair share of support around the bustling rain-drenched metropolis, but had trouble living up to the advance billing.
The idea was to organize a general strike of workers, students and virtually anyone else who wanted to join in the year-old broadside OWS has leveled against the evils of corporate greedand political corruption.
Occupiers picketed several New York bastions of capitalism, ranging from financial titan Bank of America to media congolemerates News Corp. and NBCUniversal to publisher McGraw-Hill , which was targeted for outsourcing workers. (NBC is the parent company of CNBC.com.)
While some media coverage had anticipated that the protests would shut down several cities across the world and prevent people from going to work, it sure didn't work out that way in New York.
In fact, the total turnout for the morning marches wouldn't have shut down a decent-sized side street in the Bronx, let alone any major thorougfares in the financial capital of the world.
Still, organizers deemed the event a success, and larger crowds — as well as scattered arrrests — were reported into the afternoon at various locales around the city.
"As far as numbers go, it's going to build up during the day," promised Mark Bray, an Occupy Wall Street media liaison. "For a rainy Tuesday morning, we had a good turnout."
Bray spoke as about three dozen Occupiers marched in front of Bank of America on the Avenue of the Americas across the street from Bryant Park. They chanted, "Bank of America, wrong for America" and other slogans that sometimes failed to stay, well, classy. ("Hey bofa, go f--- yourself" was one catchy refrain.)
As they paraded in front of the entrance, BofA workers processed quietly through on the way to their jobs. Multiple workers brushed past a reporter's efforts to get comment, save for one who sounded like one of the construction workers when, asked if he had a comment, barked, "yeah, get a job."
Nearby, though, stood some who were appreciative of the OWS effort.
"I respect them, I love them," gushed Lisa Coleman, a worker with the Service Employees International Union 1199. "Enough is enough. Take some of the salaries of these big-shot executives inside there and give some to the common people."
Along the parade route, UPS worker Seng Mohammad beamed as the protesters streamed by.
"I support them. If these politicians can say whatever the hell they want, why can't these people say whatever the hell they want?" he said.
The occupiers certainly said their piece, stopping along the way to sometimes little notice from the Manhattanites and tourists making their way through. There was only one significant confrontation with law enforcement, when cops in riot gear swooped in to push back protesters who got too close to the entrance of a Chase bank branch.
Otherwise it was business as usual for Occupy Wall Street, which may struggle to maintain relevance if it fails to draw crowds that are both larger and more representative of common folks during their events.
The group Tuesday was vintage OWS — decidedly younger, dressed more for a camping trip than a day on the job, armed with a long list of problems but few solutions.
"They need a bath and to look for something more meaningful to do," said Brian Murray, who works for a security firm in Westchester. "Collectively, they have no idea what they're even protesting. Not going to work is not going to bridge the gap."
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