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Occupy is still alive; Marks 5th anniversary | amNewYork

Occupy is still alive; Marks 5th anniversary

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Five years after the Occupy Wall Street protest at Downtown’s Zuccotti Park, veterans of the two-month sit-in returned to the park for a reunion of sorts. Photos by Tequila Minsky

BY BILL EGBERT | Five years ago, the Occupy Wall Street protest spawned a movement and pushed economic inequality into the mainstream political conversation. On Sept. 17, participants returned to Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to recall the protest and renew their call for economic justice.

About 70 people turned out for the sit-in sequel, which included the same sort of costumes and strident signage featured in the original protest — though, mercifully, no drum circles.

In addition to waving hand-painted signs with slogans such as “Stop giving blow jobs to big business,” returning protesters shared stories and conducted teach-ins on climate activism, affordable housing and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Five years later, the message remained the same for Occupy veteran Marni Halasa, who continues to organize around alternative banking efforts.

“I think the Occupy Wall Street spirit is definitely still alive,” said Marni Halasa. She’s a member of the Occupy spin-off the Alternative Banking Group, which continues to meet on a weekly basis, and also collaborated on a book called “Occupy Finance.”

Halasa cited more recent social and economic justice movements that she sees continuing the original Occupy protest, such as the fight for a $15 minimum wage, the Black Lives Matter movement and the dark horse candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders.

“If it weren’t for Occupy, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t have happened,” she said. “Occupy definitely opened the door for him.”

She credited Sanders — and by implication, the Occupy movement — with dragging the famously centrist Hillary Clinton dramatically to the left, to the point that the candidate now touts a $15 minimum wage (albeit, only if individual states support it) tuition-free college and steep taxes on the infamous “1 percent.”

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That capitalism is doing its best to kill the planet has always been one of issues under the Occupy Wall Street umbrella.

“It remains to be seen what she actually does,” Halasa said, “but at least she’s talking about it.”

Aron Kaye, the pieman, icon in the Yippie movement.
Yippie icon Aron Kay — who raised pie-throwing to a political act in the 1970s, famously “pieing” the likes of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, William F. Buckley, Phyllis Schlafly, G. Gordon Liddy and Andy Warhol — returned to the park where he dumped a bag of flour on the head of Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera in 2011.

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