Wall Street Protesters Gorge on ‘OccuPie’ Pizza, Veggies

Occupy Wall Street
A sign at the Occupy Wall Street protest.. Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg

Three weeks into the Wall Street demonstrations in Zuccotti Park, one admiring citizen has brought socks and vegetables.

“I complain all the time,” Amy Evans, 36, a playwright and adjunct Fordham University professor, said Wednesday afternoon. “To see people who are turning complaints into action, I feel I have to assist in some way.”

Liberatos Pizza, a few blocks south, has been taking orders from supporters around the world to have its $15 “OccuPie” delivered to the protesters. Owner Telly Liberatos said since Sept. 18 he’s sold hundreds of the 18-inch pies, lined with pepperoni around the perimeter and through the diameter.

“I have nothing to do with the protest,” Liberatos said. “I don’t take sides. It was a very slow summer. I’m trying to run my business.”

Evans, who’s donated 30 cans of vegetables and three-dozen white cotton socks, said she wouldn’t be staying overnight. “I applaud them,” she said, “but I’m not much of a camper.”

This budding movement -- of sleepovers and drop-ins, youngsters and oldsters, radicals and liberals, placard holders and Om-hummers -- appears to represent a big tent. Based on a dozen interviews and the protest’s web site and free broadsheet paper, “The Occupied Wall Street Journal,” participants believe the economy and U.S. government are failing most Americans and that large U.S. corporations, particularly in finance, are too powerful.

Displaying a sign that asked, “How’s the best congress $$$ can buy doing?” Paul Derose, a 56-year-old Queens landscaper, said he felt betrayed by President Barack Obama. “I thought he had to be different and he may be the greatest shill there’s ever been.”

‘Driven to Craziness’

“I’ve been loving politics and policy since I was a child and I’ve been driven to craziness by what I see now,” said Derose, who also works part-time in a clothing store. He supports public financing of elections.

“It’s the typical wish list -- you probably know what it is,” he said of his goals for change. “And the global warming thing is freaking me out.”

There’s media aplenty -- journalists literally collide with each other -- and free food dispensed by volunteers. Pizza, fruit, sandwiches were on offer this week, depending on time of day. Most of it is donated.

“What they’ve done here is create a radical democratic non-commodified public space,” said Arun Gupta, co-founder of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal,” who also helps run the newspaper “The Indypendent.” “There is no exchange of money going on here at all. This is a powerful symbol, in the sanctum of global capitalism.”

$51,123 in Donations

By early Thursday afternoon, 1,169 people had submitted credit card numbers, donating $51,123 to the four-page, full-color “Journal” through the Internet site Kickstarter. In his lead story in the first issue, Gupta wrote that “the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.”

“This is not the revolution,” Gupta said in the interview. “But it is changing people’s consciousness about what is possible.”

As a personal influence, Gupta, 46, cited “The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Time,” by Giovanni Arrighi, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who died in 2009.

Simon & Garfunkel

Kanaska Carter, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter and tattoo artist, said she was inspired to participate by Paul Simon’s “The Sound of Silence.”

“We’re all breaking the silence of the society,” said Carter, a Canadian who moved to New York weeks earlier and has been sleeping in the park. “My mom is so supportive. My dad tells me to go to school, but then I’d be in so much debt.”

Carter could be heard quietly performing John Fogerty’s 1970 song “Who’ll Stop the Rain” on acoustic guitar on Wednesday, one of countless musicians scattered in the park.

“When you come down here, there’s joy,” said Bill Dobbs, who identified himself as a member of the “Occupy Wall Street” PR working group. “Joy and anger are the most important ingredients of great activism, because it’s not a job. No one gets paid.”

Surveying thousands rallying in nearby Foley Square on Wednesday afternoon, Aaron Brenner, a researcher with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union with a Ph.D. in labor history from Columbia University, declared himself encouraged.

“Is this the beginning of a movement? I hope so,” he said. “The labor movement has struggled for lots of reasons. Because of that, workers’ wages have been stagnating for 30 years and the gains have gone to people at the top. How long can that continue?”


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