Occupy Wall Street: Who the Protestors Are

The Faces of Occupy Wall Street

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Protestors of the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement have occupied Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan for several weeks now, but who exactly these people are what they are protesting still remains somewhat of a mystery.The movements website, , states that “Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions...The one thing we all have in common is that we are the that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.” Alt
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Protestors of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement have occupied Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan for several weeks now, but who exactly these people are what they are protesting still remains somewhat of a mystery.

The movement's website, Occupy Wall Street, states that “Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders, and political persuasions...The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99 percentthat will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.”

Although many of the protestors are 30 years old and younger, this common goal of fighting corporate greed and corruption has also attracted an array of people from all backgrounds, including business owners, retirees, and union workers.

By Cadie Thompson
Posted 4 October 2011

'We Cannot Keep Printing Money'

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Tom DeMatteis39 Connecticut Small business owner 3 daysEnd the Federal ReserveTom DeMatteis is a single father and the owner of a pizzeria in Connecticut who joins in the protests whenever he can.“What I’m doing out here is showing support. I’m taxed damn near to death, from property tax to income tax to security tax, it’s tax, tax, tax, tax,” he said.DeMatteis’s main concern, however, is with the Federal Reserve.“The real grass roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' is to end the Federal Reserve, get th
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Tom DeMatteis
Age: 39
From: Connecticut
Occupation: Small Business Owner
Duration of protest: 3 Days
Reason for protest: End the Federal Reserve

Tom DeMatteis is a single father and the owner of a pizzeria in Connecticut who joins in the protests whenever he can.

“What I’m doing out here is showing support. I’m taxed damn near to death, from property tax to income tax to security tax, it’s tax, tax, tax, tax,” he said.

DeMatteis’s main concern, however, is with the Federal Reserve.

“The real grass roots of 'Occupy Wall Street' is to end the Federal Reserve, get them out of our Treasury, get us out of the fiat currency, and go back to what our constitution says, a gold and silver standard,” he said.

He is practicing what he preaches.

Currently, DeMatteis is having a special at his pizzeria where customers can buy a 75-cent slice of pizza, but there’s a catch: They must pay with coins that are pre-1964 because they are 90 percent silver.

“What I’m trying to do is raise awareness that you know our currency is not worth anything and that it is at the brink of collapse,” he said. “We cannot keep on printing money.”

'Protect the Little People'

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Cathy James 31 New York Social Worker 1 day Government reform
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Cathy James
Age: 31
From: New York
Occupation: Social Worker
Duration of protest: 1 Day
Reason for protest: Government Reform

Cathy James came to the protests with her two-year old daughter for the first time Monday to donate food and to show her support. James said she hopes the protest brings about “meaningful change.”

“It’s comforting to see so many people that feel the same way that I do. I’m hoping that it’s a movement that causes a transformation, either in the ballot box or with meaningful legislation that protects the little people rather than the big companies,” said James. “It’s the most vulnerable that need the most protection and I feel like the priorities of government right now just don’t reflect that. They reflect the lobbying that gets done and they reflect the fact that they are beholden to these huge organizations that are funding their campaigns.”

'Wall Street Is Running the Show'

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Pat Welsh and Tom Smucker Both 62 Both from New YorkBoth retired employees of the Local 1101 Communications Workers of America 1 DayRetirement rightsTom Smucker and Pat Welsh are both retired employees of the Local 1101 Communications Workers of America Union. They joined the protestors for the first time Wednesday to voice their concerns about Verizon’s contract renegotiations with union workers."Verizon is basically saying "It's out of date to have all these union benefits, in this day and ag
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Pat Welsh and Tom Smucker
Age: Both 62
From: Both from New York
Occupation: Both Retired Employees of the Local 1101 Communications Workers of America Union
Duration of protests: 1 Day
Reason for protests: Retirement Rights

Tom Smucker and Pat Welsh are both retired employees of the Local 1101 Communications Workers of America Union. They joined the protestors for the first time Wednesday to voice their concerns about Verizon Communications’ contract renegotiations with union workers.

“Verizon is basically saying, 'It's out of date to have all these union benefits, in this day and age you have to agree to a lousier deal than you had in the past,' and Verizon is a very well off, affluent company that doesn't really need to be doing that,” Smucker said. “It just feels, from my point of view, that this is a good moment to kick the union employees.”

Welsh agreed, but said it's pressure on Wall Street and in the boardrooms that has companies cornered to slash workers' benefits for the sake of corporate profits, he said.

“I think they are actually looking them straight in the eye and saying 'It’s time for you to break these people, it’s time for you to bring them down a notch,” Welsh said. “They did it with the united auto workers at GM, Chrysler, and Ford and I they’re going to try and do it to us now.”

'Less Corruption, Done Practically...'

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Dossey Richards 18New YorkHigh School Graduate4 days Support, new government policiesDossey Richards noticed the protests while walking downtown. Dossey said after spending sometime at the protestors campsite he decided to return on a daily basis.“I came out here because I like the intentions of what’s going on. And I think that it shows other Americans that it’s very possible to get up and rise,” said Richards.“You probably hear the more cliché answer I want change, but I want change in the wa
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Dossey Richards
Age: 18
From: New York
Occupation: High School Graduate
Duration of protest: 4 Days
Reason for protest: Support for New Government Policies

Dossey Richards noticed the protests while walking downtown. He said after spending sometime at the protestors campsite he decided to return on a daily basis.

“I came out here because I like the intentions of what’s going on. And I think that it shows other Americans that it’s very possible to get up and rise,” said Richards.

“You probably hear the more cliché answer, 'I want change,' but I want change in the ways that change is possible. I want change that is most practical as possible,” he said. “I want to see new policies that give us a real freedom, I want to see less corruption, but I want to see less corruption done practically. It’s a free market, it’s a free capitalistic market, but not a direct democracy.”

Richards said he will return to the protests as long as they are going on.

'We Need to Do a Do Over'

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Sue McAnanama 62 New York, BronxRetired, former sales 3 days Future generations' welfare, anti-warSue McAnanama is no stranger to protests, the 62-year-old said she has participated in anti-war protests her whole life. McAnanama supports the current ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’ because it brings an array of issues together to fight for one common theme, change.“They are saying, let’s look at the whole system and I think we can do it better. That’s good,” McAnanama said.One of the key issues s
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Sue McAnanama
Age: 62
From: New York, Bronx
Occupation: Retired, Former Sales
Duration of protest: 3 Days
Reason for protest: Future Generations' Welfare, War

Sue McAnanama is no stranger to protests, the 62-year-old said she has participated in anti-war protests her whole life. McAnanama supports the current ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement because it brings an array of issues together to fight for one common theme: change.

“They are saying, let’s look at the whole system and I think we can do it better. That’s good,” McAnanama said.

One of the key issues she is most concerned about is the welfare of future generations, she said.

McAnanama is married to a retired public transit worker and said if it wasn’t for his pension, she does not how they would survive.

“I’m not here because I don’t have a roof over my head or I lost my mortgage, or anything like that. I had a good job, but I don’t have a pension, my husband gets a pension. These young people aren’t going to have that,” she said. “If you don’t have a pension though, how would you live? That’s why there are so many old people living in poverty. And young people who don’t even have them. It’s not the way we should be thinking about this country. Our whole world is upside down, so we need to just recalibrate. We need to do a do over.”

'I Don’t Believe in Capitalism'

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Max Richmond 26 New York Carpenter 9 days Control of the government by wealthy corporationsMax Richmond has come down from upstate New York to Zuccotti Park since the beginning of the protests. He attends the protests Friday through Sunday then returns to upstate New York where he works as a carpenter during the week.Richmond said he originally came out to protest “the domination of the American government by an extremely small percentage of the population that constitutes mostly the financia
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Max Richmond
Age: 26
From: New York
Occupation: Carpenter
Duration of protest: 9 Days
Reason for protest: Control of the Government by Wealthy Corporations

Max Richmond has come down from upstate New York to Zuccotti Park since the beginning of the protests. He attends the protests Friday through Sunday then returns to upstate New York where he works as a carpenter during the week.

Richmond said he originally came out to protest “the domination of the American government by an extremely small percentage of the population that constitutes mostly the financial sector of our economy.”

And while Richmond is not protesting capitalism, he said our capitalistic system is not working.

“I don’t personally believe in capitalism, I’m not trying to spread that or convince other people of the rightness of what I believe, but even if you do believe in the American dream and the traditional capitalist values of this country, we don’t live in that. We live in a corporate monopolism," said Richmond. “Personally, for me, beyond that, I would like to see the world of global capitalism replaces by a more community based interpersonal relationship of governing.”

'To Hear What Everyone Has to Say'

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Leah GravesMissouri 20 Employee of Jack in the Box 4 days Public awarenessLeah Graves was visiting New York City on vacation when she unintentionally discovered the protests. She sat in on the protests for about an hour then returned to where she was staying to get her bags and brought them to the Zuccotti Park. Graves said she is trying to broaden her horizons about different issues.“What I hope to accomplish, personally, I want to hear more than just my own insight of what’s been going on with
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Leah Graves
From: Missouri
Age: 20
Occupation: Employee of Jack in the Box
Duration of protest: 4 Days
Reason for protest: Public Awareness

Leah Graves was visiting New York City on vacation when she unintentionally discovered the protests. She sat in on the protests for about an hour then returned to where she was staying to get her bags and brought them to the Zuccotti Park. Graves said she is trying to broaden her horizons about different issues.

“What I hope to accomplish, personally, I want to hear more than just my own insight of what’s been going on with our country in the world. I want to hear what everyone else has to say. I want to remain open to subjects,” she said.

Graves said she plans to stay until Friday, when she will then return to Missouri.

'I Want Change'

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David MullinsCalifornia 57 Unemployed 2 weeks Fight homelessness, help veteransDavid Mullins said he joined the movement because Veterans are not being treated right and the homeless are being neglected.Mullins, a Vietnam veteran, has been homeless for the past two and a half months. He said by ending the wars, the savings could be used to help the homeless.“Your government is in two wars right now, but there wouldn’t be any homeless people right now if there weren’t any wars would there? Your S
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: David Mullins
From: California
Age: 57
Occupation: Unemployed
Duration of protest: 2 Weeks
Reason for protest: Fight Homelessness, Help Veterans

David Mullins said he joined the movement because U.S. military veterans are not being treated right and the homeless are being neglected.

Mullins, a Vietnam veteran, has been homeless for the past two and a half months. He said by ending the wars, the savings could be used to help the homeless.

“Your government is in two wars right now, but there wouldn’t be any homeless people right now if there weren’t any wars would there? Your senators and governors have it good don’t they, and where are we at?” said Mullins. “I want change.”

'We Can Open the Eyes of the World'

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Shane Stoops 23 Washington State Unemployed 3 weeksEqualityShane Stoops said he joined the protest when he heard about it in its infancy three weeks ago at a bar in Brooklyn. He came to check out what was going on at Zuccotti Park, and hasn't left since.
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Shane Stoops
Age: 23
From: Washington State
Occupation: Unemployed
Duration of protest: 3 Weeks
Reason for protest: Equality

Shane Stoops said he joined the protest when he heard about it in its infancy three weeks ago at a bar in Brooklyn. He came to check out what was going on at Zuccotti Park, and hasn't left since.

“I fell in love with this place, they are preaching the right message, equality, peace, everyone should have an equal right to everything. Nobody should have to pay for education, food, nobody should have to be suffering for medical care,” said Stoops.

Stoops is a volunteer at the campsite and helps serve the donated food to protestors.

“I believe with this movement we can open the eyes of the world and show the people that we can live in a society where we don’t have to live in a currency-based economy,” he said. “There’s no better message than what we are preaching here.”

'They Will Have to Listen to Us'

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Dorene Senutz50 PennsylvaniaNot working 3 days Government ties to corporationsDorene Senutz takes a two hour bus ride from Pennsylvania to join the protestors during the week. Senutz said she is fed up with the US government being a slave to corporate America.
Photo Credit: Cadie Thompson

Name: Dorene Senutz
Age: 50
From: Pennsylvania
Occupation: Unemployed
Duration of protest: 3 Days
Reason for protest: Government Ties to Corporations

Dorene Senutz takes a two-hour bus ride from Pennsylvania to join the protestors during the week. Senutz said she is fed up with the U.S. government being a slave to corporate America.

“I came to support the people. We’re going to fight until our government straightens up and stops taking so much money from all the corporations that are running our country in the ground," said Senutz.

She is also hopeful about the protests springing up around the country and is considering starting one closer to her home.

“I think the whole country, all the occupations that are springing up, if it keeps going, they will have to listen to us,” Senutz said. “We’re not going to give up until the people have. It’s our country. We should be listened to and we’re not anymore.”