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OCCUPY WALL STREET PROTESTERS

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Published on Sep 26, 2011

09-26-2011
MANHATTAN,NY

NEW YORK -- Ten days of living in a concrete New York City park and you'd never guess the bandana-wearing Thorin Caristo, of Plainfield, Conn., was a father of two and dealer in antiques.
"I've gotten about 24 hours sleep in the last 10 days," Caristo said Monday, looking very much like a man living on the street. "It's been rough."
Caristo, 37, is one of about 300 regular "residents" of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, although the inhabitants -- who are there to protest what they call Wall Street's greed, the weak economy and a host of other causes -- have been calling the park by its former name, Liberty Plaza. The group's numbers rise and fall throughout the day, and by around 4 p.m. on Monday, levels were closer to 700. By nightfall, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore had stopped by for a surprise visit.
Last weekend, the movement, which calls itself "Occupy Wall Street" drew national attention after 87 people were arrested and a girl was pepper-sprayed by police as nearly 2,000 people rallied to object to Wall Street's influence over government policies.
On several websites, various participants of the protest are calling for President Barack Obama to form a committee to eliminate undue influence on politics wielded by corporations.
The park, located across the street from One Liberty Plaza, which houses the Nasdaq Stock Market headquarters and the Financial Regulatory Authority's Dispute Resolution office, has become its own village, complete with a media center, a place to hold general assemblies, and crude medical and dining facilities. Some have laid carpet remnants and mattresses down. On the fringes of the park, protestors stand with signs and discuss their issues with anyone who cares to ask. Inside, they talk and debate amongst themselves, laugh and occasionally strum guitars.
Sleeping bags and tarps are stacked up in other areas until needed at night.
"I didn't need any convincing to come here," Caristo, said, explaining why he left the comfort of home to be here. He's had a sense things were going wrong in this country since he graduated high school in the 1990s and could only afford a year at Eastern Connecticut University before having to quit and find work.
Like many of the other protesters, he sees a nation where access to opportunity appears to be driven by wealth and where government is more responsive to corporate interests than the good of the people. He said a constant striving to increase profits is not sustainable and people need to think more about the greater good. It's a personal issue, too, he said, as he's watched friends and family struggle to make ends meet and he worries about his own children's future.
The movement, at times, seems chaotic and unclear in its focus, which confused some outside observers. Signs laid out on the park near the sidewalk shout calls to action and criticisms such as "Kill the Corporate Tapeworm," "Capitalism is Dying in the U.S.A.," and "Industrial Civilization is Murdering our Earth," among a host of other concerns including Wall Street's influence on politics, increasing poverty, nuclear proliferation and pollution.
"It looks like they're protesting everything," one man on break from lunch said, peering at the sea of signs.
That seeming confusion drew one Bristol, Conn. man to the protest.
"I thought we were hurting our cause and needed to appeal to the 99 percent of Americans that aren't rich," Will Roper of Bristol, a former electrician, said. "I was angry."
But after getting here three days ago, he's learned this is a collective effort of people trying to come together for a cause. And they're trying to make sure everyone is heard, he said.
That's handled during the general assembly the group holds every day to discuss the issues of the village, food and medical supplies, as well as an open session for comment.
The assembly is not allowed to use microphones, so people have employed what they call "The Human Microphone."

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