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Gabbatt writes: "Protest backed by billionaire Koch brothers fizzles out as Occupiers match numbers and attend with host of satirical signs."

Occupy protester Brittany Anderson sports her sign. (photo: Gothamist)
Occupy protester Brittany Anderson sports her sign. (photo: Gothamist)

Occupy Activists Commandeer Anti-Occupy Wall Street Rally

By Adam Gabbatt, Guardian UK

21 September 12


Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns


Protest backed by billionaire Koch brothers fizzles out as Occupiers match numbers and attend with host of satirical signs

conservative rally billed as an opportunity to "stand up to Occupy Wall Street extremists" fell flat on Thursday when it was co-opted by members of Occupy Wall Street.

Supporters of Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party-esque group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, gathered at the Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan to demonstrate against both Occupy Wall Street and President Obama.

But almost half of the sparse crowd were Occupy Wall Street protesters, smartly dressed and bearing signs parodying Americans for Prosperity's ultra-conservative message.

"My sign says: 'I'm dreaming of a white president, just like the ones we used to have,'" said Stan Williams, a labour organiser and member of the Occupy movement.


"There were some people, with my sign especially, who said why are you bringing race into it," said Williams, who is black. "But there were about five or six people who said: 'That's a great sign.'"

Warren Bancroft, co-founder of the satirical group Americans for Inequality, whose Facebook page describes the organisation as a "group of concerned citizens who cherish America's history of vast inequalities", was drawing approving nods from the Americans for Prosperity crowd as he loudly criticised the Occupy movement, arguing that "inequality plays a positive role".

"We're committed to reversing the narrative of inequality in this country," Bancroft said. "For the last year it's been dominated by the problems of inequality and the perils of inequality, but the truth is if you look at economic history, inequalities signal incentives to everyone in a dynamic market economy."

The dozen or so Americans for Prosperity supporters were almost matched in number by attendees pretending to be from Americans for Prosperity. Among other Occupy signs in the crowd were "Let them eat cake," and "I hate libraries", while a woman dressed in business attire had a piece of cardboard bearing the message "Every man for himself" - the quote attributed to Jesus Christ.

"There's a tradition of this," said a woman called Frances, an Occupy demonstrator who did not want to give her last name.

"There was a group called Billionaires for Bush that would dress up and they would come to demonstrations, and they would do a little skit about how they were billionaires and how they were very happy with the Bush tax cuts and the wars for oil.

"There's a tradition of street theatre and this was a little bit of street theatre."

Not all the parodists were necessarily affiliated with Occupy, however, with the Americans for Prosperity rally seemingly acting as a dog whistle for satire.

"I'm sick of the Occupy Wall Street protests … I'm sorry that I was born to a certain family and that I make more money than you. Maybe you should go and get a job," said a man who gave his name as John Wilker, who was clad in business attire and insisted he worked in the financial district.


"These are true patriots here. They're fighting the good fight to still make sure Americans such as myself are still given the opportunities that we've had for decades and decades and decades."

Wilker said he was not a part of the Occupy movement, but he and his companion Robert Stetson appeared to be engaging in the 'street theatre' Frances had mentioned.

"I think it's fine that the 1% earns far more than the 99%, that's how it should be. There should be a group of people that has worked hard, that has been able to set themselves apart. It's America," Stetson said. He and Wilker, like the Occupy infiltrators, were repeatedly questioned by the green T-shirt wearing Americans for Prosperity, rather derailing the rally and distracting from speakers.

The event had been organised as part of the group's "Failing Agenda" bus tour across the US. Americans for Prosperity has three coaches crossing the country, drawing attention to what it sees as Obama's failings on the economy, and Steve Lonegan, the organisation's New Jersey state director had described its stop outside the Rockefeller Center in New York as having an anti-Occupy theme.

But after Lonegan kicked off the rally just after 10.30am, summarising Obama's "failing agenda" and describing the need to "return ourselves to free market capitalism", bickering swiftly broke out in the crowd as Americans for Prosperity supporters sensed they were being infiltrated.

A red-haired Americans for Prosperity supporter was among the more vocal. "I built my own business, OK? Nobody gave it to me. I built it. What about you, who paid for your shoes? Who paid for your shoes?," she inquired as she tailed an Occupier bearing a "Let them eat cake" sign through the crowd.

"I was letting her know that my family, my mother - a single mother - had to support us," the red-haired woman told the Guardian. "That my mother took care of us and she was very poor. That when I was a little girl, we had to eat oatmeal, and our desert was a piece of toast with a little sugar on it. I let her know that my family had nothing and we boot-strapped our way up on our own." your social media marketing partner


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+64 # pernsey 2012-09-22 08:14
Hmmm where were the police with pepper spray and batons? Why werent these people hauled out to jail? Very interesting when the Koch bros send their people they are left to protest. Some of these people sound like total whack-a-doodles .

Im glad some occupiers were there too. What a joke, the rich people causes get left alone, how interesting.
+22 # chomper2 2012-09-22 12:32
Maybe, just maybe, the police (their bosses, at least) are too stupid to recognize parody and satire and therefore couldn't tell the Occupiers from the Kochers. Yuk, yuk.
+10 # pernsey 2012-09-22 19:04
Quoting chomper2:
Maybe, just maybe, the police (their bosses, at least) are too stupid to recognize parody and satire and therefore couldn't tell the Occupiers from the Kochers. Yuk, yuk.

Im sure thats true chompers, but I get irritated that the occupiers get hauled off to jail and these loons are left to protest without any problems. The rich people protesst draws a pass, while occupiers are hauled to jail...what a joke!
+70 # WestWinds 2012-09-22 09:29
The red haired woman claims she "boot-strapped" her way up, but she could have boot-strapped herself until the cows came home and gotten no where if FDR and all the rest hadn't put in the ladder rungs for her to climb. The Koch brothers are out to take all ladders away.

Who provided this woman the schools she went to? Certainly not herself alone. Who provided the educated teachers who have taught her? She didn't make or build them. Who provided the roads she travels on? She didn't boot-strap them into place. Who provides the protection of the police and the military so she isn't plagued by wrong doers while she climbs her ladder?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to take away anything her mother did to support her, but there are invisible (to her) millions who have given her a helping hand that she just takes for granted and is refusing to give credit for her success story.

I look at people like her and resent her attitudes; she's a brat, an unabashed, selfish, self-absorbed brat who has been stripped of any and all civil gratitude for the efforts made by other members of the society she was born into. We had a great society (forged by FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, RFK and LBJ,) but it's people like this one and her handlers; the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and all the rest of the shriveled up, greedy old white men whose brains have atrophied with greed addiction, who have brought this country down.
+7 # ecovortx 2012-09-22 09:53
Scary is better way to explain it.
+32 # HowardMH 2012-09-22 09:56
Wake up people. If the current trend continues another few years, the richest 50 that currently control most of the government will control all of it and you will not have to vote for anything, or be allowed to say anything against the dictators that are in charge.
Support the 99% or else.
-24 # Street Level 2012-09-22 09:57
I've known single moms who get alimony, child support in addition to property and/or cash as a part of their settlement and tell me how poor they are because it's not the country club lifestyle that they were accustomed to.
+18 # reiverpacific 2012-09-22 13:01
Quoting Street Level:
I've known single moms who get alimony, child support in addition to property and/or cash as a part of their settlement and tell me how poor they are because it's not the country club lifestyle that they were accustomed to.

What the Hell has that small-bit kind of tabloid tattle-tale got to do with "Occupy" or anything relevant thereto, in the grassroots quest for groundswell and critical mass towards solidarity to oppose the Koch's, Roves and other greed-mongers' quest for a one-party state with "Americans for Prosperity for a few" and similar well-financed but at base, cowardly and anti-social PAC's, data-bases and backers.
Hell I just heard of a couple who were sent to jail (rightly) for claiming and collecting thousands in welfare in a system of their own conniving whilst living a high lifestyle in a McMansion (with reference to your "Country Club lifestyles"). Doesn't mean everybody's at it or even that many.
It's good to hear that "Occupy" is aware, informed and ready to peacefully counter attempts to discredit it by the "divide and conquer" forces in the shadows that use hired finks and blacklegs to shill for them against their own kind.
+10 # Old Man 2012-09-22 10:27
Addicted to Greed is what they are.
Do ya think they'll do this everyday for a year?
+19 # ganymede 2012-09-22 10:35
As someone who works in New York real estate and participated in last year's OWS movement I want to commend the Occupy activists who made a parody of the immature and silly Romney-ists who tried to make their idiotic statements at Rockefeller Center. While we have to keep up the pressure, it's a foregone conclusion that the election is over. For the first time in my life these awful people have finally been beaten and will not be coming back. This has been their last gasp and our job will now be to make our imperfect, but capable leader, Obama, live up to his promises to reform our country.
+17 # pbbrodie 2012-09-22 16:47
People like you, who have written this off as a sure thing for President Obama, are scaring the crap out of me. It ain't over until the fat lady sings and she ain't sung, yet. Everyone had better keep working hard and definitely get out and vote. This is still going to go down to who gets out more of their base.
+14 # Mamazon 2012-09-22 11:14
Greed and racism and stupidity -- the perfect storm... Thani you peole with conscious brains for attending the rally and making the 99% statement! We have one atmosphere folks -- rich and poor alike have to breathe and eat and drink water to survive. We all live -- or we all go extinct. Please vote in the millions for survival -- for Obama and as many Democratic congresspeople possible! May it be so!
+16 # Smokey 2012-09-22 11:22
Hey, what's the problem? The Koch brothers wanted to organize a protest against "the Wall Street extremists." And it's obvious that the Koch brothers and their buddies ARE the Wall Street extremists... So the public cooperated and it gave the Koch brothers the demonstration that they requested and deserved.... Everybody should be happy, right? It's like the Republicans who scream against the lazy bums who take tax-payer money and who don't produce anything that's worth the public's investment.... We're talking about the Republicans, right? If they want to organize a protest against themselves, that's fine with me. Give them a party that they'll remember.
+16 # Kimc 2012-09-22 13:21
First that sign "quoting" Jesus should have one of those references at the bottom. this could say: Rand 66:13 or Koch 13:7 or some such....
Next -- here's our suggestions:
The way we will take back America from the corporations is:
1) Take our money out of the big banks and Wall St, and don't patronize those corporations any more than you must. (Put your money in member-owned credit unions. Or read "Locavesting".) Wall St cannot be tamed: it must be eliminated. Capitol Markets were introduced into America to fuel industrial growth. They no longer do this – their job is done.
2) We will start a lot of worker-owned, democratically- run businesses, where the people who do the actual work get the say and share the profit.
a) Form locally sustainable economies
3) We must elect progressive candidates to protect us from the destruction planned by the conservatives.
4) We will start our own currency, and gradually replace the old Dollar with the New Community Dollar, which We the People will control with our own banks or credit unions and regulating agencies.
5) Assume the frame of moral/ethical leadership. (Read George Lakoff.)
+4 # David Starkey - Dallas, TX 2012-09-22 13:26
That wasn't Jesus, that was his brother, Joseph Jr. [nickname:greed y]
+3 # John Steinsvold 2012-09-22 19:14
An Alternative to Capitalism (OWS Goal?)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed: "There is no alternative".
She was referring to capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism for the American people to consider. Please click on the following link. It will take you to an essay titled: "Home of the Brave?" which was published by the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."~ Albert Einstein
0 # Aunt Tom 2012-09-23 01:07
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."~ Albert Einstein

That assertion has always intrigued me. Isn't that what alchemists did, trying to turn base metals into gold? Didn't they believe that if they did it enough times, that would make it happen? Stir it around long enough, et voila! Gold! (But I 'm not sure they ever stirred it long enough.) Sort of like getting sparks to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together enough times. So, were the alchemists insane and are the scientists who evolved from them not insane because they believe that once you've caused something enough times you can draw the conclusion that you can expect the same result forever or if not forever at least until the statutes of limitation run out?

Anyway, next thing I know I'm thinking about accidents and wondering if they are the representations of the margins of error always required of experiment conclusions.

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