Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupying vacant buildings

On my way back up to midtown on my usual walk around lower Manhattan yesterday (11/19) I passed by the TD Bank branch on the corner of 14th Street and Fifth Avenue and saw some "occupy" banners hanging above the bank signs and even a tent hung on the side of the building above the bank. Looking closer I saw a lot of posters in the windows of the second floor. The occupied space is actually leased by the New School (supposedly from Wells Fargo) who is supposedly willing to tolerate the occupants in that portion of a student study center.
There is certainly a lot of vacant commercial, retail, and office space around that people could theoretically "occupy." Maybe that is a possible next phase of the occupy movement. But they're not really occupying "Wall Street". They're really occupying "the lingering effects of the recession" or "the weak recovery."
One of the banners is quite telling: "Annihilate Capitalism." That doesn't seem oriented towards garnering broad support and would tend to limit the movement to being a narrow niche and not being able to appeal to mainstream America. OTOH, it is kind of a trademark action of a "culture jammer" that Adbusters would probably appreciate.
During the minute or so that I stopped at the curb to read all the posters and banners I saw almost nobody else stop or even apparently notice them. One woman stopped and took a picture. That was it. Interesting. This suggests that even if the movement can stay in this mode of operation, they may quickly lose the attention of the general populace.

-- Jack Krupansky


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