What “Occupy Wall Street” Means to Investor Activists

Occupy Wall StreetThe revolution is finally being televised.

As the little protest that could chugs along in Lower Manhattan, “Occupy Wall Street” is gaining national and even international media attention—after being barricaded from the front pages early on.

Despite what critics want you to believe, there is a common thread here and it is one that should inspire frustrated investors.

This cultural flashpoint is about the simmering rage, pain and disappointment in this country that lies at the nexus of Wall Street and its callous disregard for Main Street.

Though there may be anti-capitalists, socialists and other “–ists” mixed in among the protesting ranks. This is not so much a blanket indictment of capitalism, nor is it a blind endorsement of socialism. This is a run at the culture of corporate corruption. This is a cry for help, a call for conversation, a mobilization of the masses to move towards real change.

There is a common umbilical cord connecting this protest to the millions of disgruntled shareholders, bewildered investors, common taxpayers, and activists of all shades.

It was this same sentiment that led us to launch of www.TheShareholderActivist.com.

If you are concerned with how your investment is faring, with the decisions being made that may not be in the interests of your shareholder base, you not only have a right to be heard, but you are also not alone. As the hearty souls in Lower Manhattan are proving, if you are frustrated, you can stand up and act and find others that will row, row, row along with you in the same direction.

More Than Celebrity Spotting and Pepper Spraying

“Occupy Wall Street” is not your parents’ protest movement. It is more like a leaderless, spontaneous, rambling, disorienting flash mob that has yet to disband since its Sept. 17 debut.

It started when hundreds of protestors flooded into lower Manhattan, set up beds, makeshift kitchens, first aid and communication stations, with the bold intention to literally occupy Wall Street for a few months.

Well, they are not exactly occupying Wall Street, but rather the privately owned, publicly accessible Zuccotti Park located a couple blocks away between the New York Stock Exchange and Ground Zero.

Still, close enough.

Really, what does a gutsy ragtag band of civil disobeying consortium of protestors have to do to get some ink around here?

Earlier rumors that Radiohead would make a surprise appearance started to turn heads, prompting “Occupy Wall Street” to issue a public apology to the band: “We would like to apologize to the members of the press and public who came out today to see Radiohead and left disappointed.”

More recently a trickle of celebrity stop-bys threatens to rage into a torrential stream of star power, weather-permitting. Rapper Immortal Technique, intellectual Cornel West, even Oscar-winning actress/activist Susan Sarandon dropped in, actually on her way to catch a flight to Italy. Filmmaker Michael Moore is a regular.

And this may not be Detroit and Zuccotti Park sure isn’t 8 Mile Road, but rumors abound that blue-collar urban lyricist Eminem may make an NYC appearance at the protest.

What, no Bono?

Personally, I hope for homegrown hero raptivists, Beastie Boys, to drop by to lend the massing movement some local street cred from the County of the Kings.

An earlier pepper-spray incident grabbed a bit of media juice, followed by a lull in confrontations with New York’s Finest and relatively peaceful protestors that gave way to a dramatic series of demonstrations and the arrest of hundreds, including a spectacular near-siege of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Unions and activists are pouring in, as critics from right amp up the condemning rhetoric, and Occupy New York is now firmly planted on or near the front pages.

The Corruption of the 1%

What exactly are they protesting?

What’ve you got?

According to the website, “Occupy Wall Street is 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% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

From environmentalists to anti-war activists, first-responders to union supporters, all different types of activists are coalescing and coming out into the cold to band together.

Still, the conversation is dominated by issues of income equality, corruption in our financial industries and the insidious influence of Wall Street on Washington. This is an important dialogue.

Lacking the charismatic force of an Abby Hoffman or a Jerry Rubin may appeal to the communal mentality of our Facebook nation. But it also means there is no irresistible force to counter the many immovable objects aligning to lay in the path of this bold band in Lower Manhattan.

Still, the theater of it all is quite inspiring. For instance, not permitted to use megaphones during the some of the rallies, whoever has the floor speaks in a slow cadence, stopping after every sentence or two, to have his or her words repeated by fellow protestors, emanating from the epicenter in waves to wash over the gathering in a profound way.

Investor Activists Take Notice

Occupy Wall Street is a lesson in the power of civil disobedience. A mass protest movement that started with a bizarre July posting in Adbusters, of all places, is now a full-blown occupation “nearby” the financial epicenter of humanity.

That is pretty powerful.

Though the rallies and marches swell into the thousands, the fluctuating group of hard core protestors doing most of the actual occupying is estimated at around 300 hearty souls.

But it only took 300 committed Spartans to hold the pass at Thermopylae to turn back the blood-lusting Persian hordes.

If you are in the New York Tri-state area, I encourage you to stop by one of the events, publicized on the Occupy New York website. They may be leaderless, but they are certainly not voiceless. The rallies are dramatic and inspiring, and the groups are relatively peaceful and articulate, with plenty of spontaneous conversations and thoughtful discussions mixed in with the rhetoric and the raving.

Follow the media coverage. Form an opinion and engage in discussions. Discard the criticism and get informed on the issues. Shareholder activism comes in many shades. You should not feel like an intruder on the conversations concerning your investments.

As we march towards mid-October and shed the unseasonably warm air and the temperature starts to recede, more celebrities turn out and the protestors, hopefully, hone their message and corral it to focus more exclusively on the 1%, more dramatic media images are sure to follow.

We hope so.

Power to the 99%.

To contact Craig McGuire directly, please email Craig.McGuire@TheShareholderActivist.com.

Thank you for reading this shareholder activism blog. Please contact Info@TheShareholderActivist.com to request advice and recommendations on services and solutions to support corporate sustainability and your investor activism. We also encourage you to submit your comments so that we can share your experiences with our growing community of shareholder activists.
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