written by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street
via YouTube, h/t cathyferkleheimer
ShowPlug1:#OccupyWallStreet NYC March draws close to 15,000, per ABC News. Unions join. Students walk out. First Statement "Declared."
ShowPlug2: Guests: Pres. John Samuelson of @TWULocal100 ; NY1's @ErrolLouis ; Eliot Spitzer on How Wall Street got ITSELF occupied
ShowPlug3: Banks respond by raising fees on debit cards, charging for "free" checking! I'll give 1st nat'l TV reading of OWS "Declaration"
ShowPlug4: Beck predicts OWS leads to Guillotines, Gas Chambers, higher Gold Prices. Palin not running; could she sue Ailes for harassment?
ShowPlugLast: + "Retroactive Recusal." Rep. Slaughter's idea to undo Citizens United. @JonathanTurley on reality or daydream.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Occupy Wall Street', Errol Louis
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Occupy Wall Street', John Samuelson
#4 'How Did It Come To This?', Eliot Spitzer
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#3 Reading of the first collective statement of Occupy Wall Street
Link to just the statement on YouTube
# Live breaking news: Occupy Wall Street, J.A. Myerson
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Labor Unions, NYPD, Occupy, Occupy Wall Street
Guests: Eliot Spitzer, Errol Louis, J.A. Myerson, John Samuelsen
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Occupy Wall Street marches on New York City Hall.
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street.
OLBERMANN: Students walk out nationwide. More unions throw their support, even politicians get on the bandwagon. And the first declaration is issued from Zuccotti Park:"We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice and oppression over equality run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known." And the far right, terrified, has gone crazy.
(Excerpt from video clip) ANN COULTER: It is a classic mob uprising.
(Excerpt from video clip) DONALD TRUMP: A lot of them are down there for dating purposes.
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration.
(Excerpt from video clip) GLENN BECK: They are only interested in destruction that leads to gas chambers. That leads to guillotines. That leads to millions dead. That leads to Mao. That leads to totalitarianism every single time.
OLBERMANN: Even when it was the tea party? Oh, no! Full, continuing coverage of Occupy Wall Street Day 19. With Transport Workers Union President John Samuelsson, with the history of how Wall Street got here from Eliot Spitzer, with the first national reading of the first declaration of the general assembly occupying Wall Street.
And - retroactive recusal, the startling possibility of reversing Citizens United and excluding the vote of Justice Clarence Thomas.
(Excerpt from video clip) LOUISE SLAUGHTER: There is such a thing as a retroactive recusal. We're looking into that. That case, if you remember, was decided 5-4. If we could take away his vote, we can wipe that out. It would lose.
OLBERMANN: Retroactive recusal. Tonight, a how-to guide from George Washington University Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley. All of that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) CROWD: This is what Democracy looks like!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Wednesday, October 5th, 398 days until the 2012 presidential election.
Thousands marched, thousands more nationwide walked out. Unions, representing still hundreds of thousands more, endorsed. In a statement, the first list of grievances and truths was declared.
In our fifth story in the "Countdown" - Occupy Wall Street roars through New York City. Its ranks swelling as members of the AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers and the Transit Workers Union join in. This, as a growing number of Democratic lawmakers say it's about time.
The lowest estimate of the crowd of that marched the mile between Foley Square and its courthouse and city hall to Zuccotti Park this afternoon, just off Wall Street - at least 10,000 per The New York Daily News. Also, The Financial Times quoting that number. ABC News - now with its own live Occupy Wall Street blog - going with as many as 15,000. Some organizers claiming 30,000. But to be fair, organizers claim there were only 15,000 in Foley square as the march began. The lowest estimate, however, under the circumstances is still huge. Crowds stretching 12 blocks, chanting, "All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street." Among them, one, Elizabeth Carrie Smith and her infant daughter.
(Excerpt from video clip) ELIZABETH CARRIE SMITH: We basically cannot survive in New York regardless of how hard we work because we cannot afford health care. We cannot afford child care. And I can't imagine if this is what it's like now, what is it going to be like when she's older? Is it going to be worth it for her to pay for an education that is economically useless? For her not to have opportunity, I mean, isn't that what capitalism was supposed to be about?
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" contributor, the actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, was also there.
(Excerpt from video clip) MARK RUFFALO: This corporate cronyism, this greed, this infiltration of our regulatory services and systems, the whole-handed sell-off of the EPA - all of these people here come from all walks of life and all different groups that are fighting those very things.
OLBERMANN: People from all walks of life, including today many union members who are out in force.
(Excerpt from video clip) MIKE HELLSTROM: I hope that the labor movement can bring that energy into their movement and join up with their movement and say, "You know what? This is a working-class movement. This is not a movement about just a bunch of young people that have nothing better to do in their life. This is an issue that the labor movement has been fighting about for over 100 years."
OLBERMANN: And today, the United Federation of Teachers lent its support to the movement, and AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka not only getting behind it, but also issuing specific demands, first that "Big corporations should invest some of the two trillion in cash they have on hand and use it to create good jobs." Second, "Banks should be making more credit accessible to small businesses instead of parking almost one trillion at the Federal Reserve." Third, "Stop foreclosures. Banks should write down the 14 million mortgages that are under water and stop the more than 10 million pending foreclosures." And fourth, "Fund education and jobs by taxing financial speculation."
Education, a major concern among protestors here and across the country. Today, students at more than 100 colleges nationwide walking out of class to signal their solidarity with the Wall Street protestors and to call for more affordable education and loan forgiveness.
Meantime, Democratic Congress members continuing to jump on board. As we reported last night, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus have pledged support. Today, more Democratic leaders following that direction.
Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, the fourth-ranking member of the party's House caucus, saying today, "The silent masses aren't so silent anymore."
Russ Feingold, the former Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, calling the movement "long overdue" and saying, "I am really encouraged by what I'm seeing. People around the country are finally organizing to stand up to the huge influence of corporations on government and our lives." And adding, "This is like the tea party, only it's real."
It remains to be seen how much this real movement will impact national politics or when they will shake off some of the tone deafness expressed at the White House. Press Secretary Jay Carney today using the protests as a way to push the president's agenda and defend his record:
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: There are Americans out there who are understandably frustrated with the economy . . . his is exactly why the president is - despite Bill's contempt - barnstorming around the country arguing for the urgent need for Congress to act on the American Jobs Act. . . Need I remind you that this president fought - and it wasn't always pretty - to make sure that we passed sweeping consumer protections in the Financial Reform Act? It was opposed by Congress.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for that, Sparky. Joining me now, Errol Louis, political anchor of NY1 News. And co-author and editor of "Deadline Artists." Thanks for coming in again.
ERROL LOUIS: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: As I said - maybe it's over 10,000, maybe it was way over 10,000. Given where this movement was a few weeks ago with straggling numbers, declining numbers there of a few hundred, given the passivity of this city, politically, in the last 20 years, contextualize what the size of a crowd like that means.
LOUIS: Oh, sure. Well, look, there are labor protests all the time that will turn out a couple of thousand people - two thousand, three thousand, five thousand people. They'll shout and they'll bang drums and they'll have a lot of specific issues and so forth. And it will come and go and almost not get noticed. It won't disrupt the city. The press doesn't take that much notice. This is huge for New York City. For this to have been done - not by somebody running for office, not by a bunch of labor unions who are trying to get through a contract negotiation - but that it really just kind of happened. And when they say leaderless resistance, it's tweets - and it's a mistake to sort of put too much on the social-media aspect of it.
LOUIS: There's something genuine going on out here. And I think it has hit New York in the head like a two by four. If you didn't understand what was going on here, the 700 arrests were clue number one. This is clue number two. This is big. This is real. This is unusual for New York or anywhere else.
OLBERMANN: And the other unusual thing about it, Errol, that I've been seeing and the coverage of it, just the blog postings and even some of the mainstream reporting - just in the last few hours - it's not just talking about, obviously, the union influence now in here which is - although this is ad hoc compared to what the unions normally do - it is something the unions can sink their teeth into as well and obviously an ally situation between the two of them. But we're also getting these wonderful anecdotal reports of policemen on the scene basically saying, "You know, if I weren't working, I would probably be out there trying not to get caught on camera."
It's a very interesting group that's sort of growing with the protestors who clearly were not there two weeks ago. Is that your impression?
LOUIS: Absolutely, absolutely. I've heard on some call-in shows people from Wall Street saying that, "Look, tens of thousands of us are getting laid off." You know, people might think that we're all a bunch of fat cats, but there are maybe 150,000 people at the top of the pyramid who are doing really, really well. And there are a lot of people further down the food chain who are getting cut like you can't believe."
The financial center has dispersed. The jobs are going overseas. The jobs are vanishing. The jobs are being automated. A lot of folks are in a lot of pain. And when they see these folks making these demands and that it's not blind, and it's not violent, and it's not stupid and it's not infantile - I think some people are starting to make contact. And, you know, you go down there and it's completely open. Nobody asks who you are or why you're there. Anybody can walk through. And you see signs and there's a bookshelf, and you can look at what people are reading, and there's all these different debates going on among different factions. It's really a very interesting place to get a quick education in what's on a lot of people's minds.
OLBERMANN: And, as you say, it's hitting the city as a two by four might. Is that because the city - it's not easy to draw a crowd when you have a sign that says, "I want this by this time by - it better be or - by the way, we have to get this done before the 6:00 news," as opposed to this kind of - now it's beginning to seem like an extraordinary positive that it's a little more amorphous than that. It is not so finely tuned. It's like, "Well, what is your complaint? Maybe we can include that in this."
LOUIS: Absolutely, I mean, look. The fact that it's normally very orderly, that demonstrators and police have arranged, and it's choreographed, and the press is in on the whole thing.
OLBERMANN: It's a square dance.
LOUIS: And it's all done in time - you know, look, that's fine - it's a demonstration. You're supposed to demonstrate support, but this is a little more than a demonstration. They're not just demonstrating. They're trying to do something here, and I think what's really unusual is unlike everybody else in New York, they're not looking for fame or power or money or all of the above if they can get it, which is what's on most people's minds. They're just here to try and get people to think about a lot of different issues.
OLBERMANN: Where are the New York politicians on this? I mean, this is a weird town. You've got a conservative Democrat who's basically run as a Republican three times as mayor, who did a deal with the Democratic leader of the City Council so that they could eliminate term limits, and maybe she becomes the mayor after he retires. It's a weird, not finely cut, Republican versus Democratic town, but have there been no New York politicians who said, "Wait a minute. I like these people. They might like me."
LOUIS: Oh, they were out in the crowd in today, as a matter if fact.
OLBERMANN: Were they?
LOUIS: Oh, yeah, and the beautiful thing was - none of them were not allowed to speak. I mean, who would you ask, right?
LOUIS: I mean, that's this thing about a leaderless movement. So, out in the crowd was I guy names Vito Lopez. He's the head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. It's the largest Democratic Party, second biggest in the country.
OLBERMANN: It's a big one. Yes, yes, yeah.
LOUIS: It's huge, and there he was, out in the crowd, and somebody running for the Manhattan Borough president - he wants to run for mayor - Scott Stringer. He was out in the crowd, kind of circulating around. The head of the Working Family's Party was out there. There are a lot of people who are normally, you know - the big players, the big cheese - everybody kind of runs and has to find out what they are going to do or what they are going to say. They're taking a back seat, and they're looking with interest because they know how hard it is to get 20,000 people out in the street.
LOUIS: And, so to that extent, I think they've certainly proved something. Maybe people should have figured this out before, but it's inescapable now that they're here. They're a force to be reckoned with, and everybody who's in the business of trying to get progressive conversations going in this town has got to be impressed by what they've done.
OLBERMANN: A good place to be seen and not heard. Errol Louis of NY1, co-editor of the new book, "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." Great thanks again, Errol.
LOUIS: Thank you.
Protesters have been criticized for not specifying their demands and thus being dismissed as merely anti-bailout or upset about unemployment or something.
Today, Occupy Wall Street issued a statement that transcended demands focusing more on the breadth of what must change in the relationship between people and corporations. And it reads in part, "As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. We come to you at a time when corporations which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known."
As promised, I'll be reading that entire statement - it's about four minutes in length - later in the news hour. Right now, let's bring in John Samuelsen, the president of the TWU Local 100, most of whose 38,000 members are New York transit employees. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
JOHN SAMUELSEN: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: What made your union associate itself with these protests?
SAMUELSEN: I think the main thrust of the protest on Wall Street boils down to joblessness and wealth disparity, and those are two issues, of course, that Local 100 and the Transport Workers Union would hold dearly and would rail against.
OLBERMANN: To what degree was your union galvanized by what happened over the weekend when the NYPD essentially impressed everybody into service - the people who drove the buses - to take those 700 arrestees away from Brooklyn Bridge?
SAMUELSEN: Well, we had pledged support to the protests before that happened.
OLBERMANN: Indeed, you did.
SAMUELSEN: But to tell you the truth, it was very irritating to me that the NYPD would board our buses and commandeer them and force our operators to transport prisoners.
SAMUELSEN: Prisoners who should have never been arrested to begin with.
OLBERMANN: What's your estimation in terms of national support from your union or other unions with which you're familiar?
SAMUELSEN: I think national support is growing rapidly. Other Transport Workers Union locals were present today in force, and other Transport Workers Union locals across the country were in force in different protests.
OLBERMANN: If there's one thing somebody from the TWU would know in this city, it's people. It's knowing the impact of things in New York City that happened to people. You may have just heard Errol Louis say that his estimation would be that this, today - this march today, as part of the whole thing - would have hit New York like a two by four because it didn't have a "We want this right now." It wasn't a strike threat. It wasn't, forgive me, but it wasn't a union protest. It wasn't somebody's celebration day parade. It was just people saying, "This is wrong. This has got to change." What did you think of it?
SAMUELSEN: I thought it was tremendous today. To understate the union's involvement today would not be correct. Everybody turned out in force to support the protests at Wall Street. We now recognize that - well, first of all, let me just say this - the folks at Wall Street provided the spark for the rest of organized labor. We should have been doing this two and a half years ago. All right? The same old thing that we have been doing, talking to politicians in the corridors in Albany and in Washington D.C. just has not worked for working people. Taking to the streets -
SAMUELSEN: It's working.
OLBERMANN: Something I used to get hit with, like, five years ago when I started doing the commentaries that I did was that more than what I was saying, the thing that seemed to resonate with people was, I'm not alone. There's somebody else who feels like this, too.
OLBERMANN: Is that what's going on here? You're not alone.
SAMUELSEN: Absolutely, absolutely. And I think, more than anything, the Wall Street protestors feel that they're not alone. The force of organized labor is behind them. As one of the commentators said today, one of the speakers, "They provide the enthusiasm, and we're going to provide the muscle," and that's absolutely true.
OLBERMANN: All right, explain muscle because people are going to take that and take it completely out of context. "Oh, muscle from the unions."
SAMUELSEN: Yeah. Well, the New York - the New York City labor movement has resources.
OLBERMANN: Right, resources.
SAMUELSEN: The protestors at Wall Street don't necessarily have resources. We both have many of the same aims, not always, but many of the same aims, and we have the resources to take it further.
OLBERMANN: John Samuelsen, the president of TWU Local 100. Great, thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.
SAMUELSEN: Okay, thanks.
OLBERMANN: I like your hat.
SAMUELSEN: That's for you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, kindly. That's - Oh, I know that's Mr. Quill, the 10,000 busman man - All right, thanks for coming.
SAMUELSEN: Thanks. Bye-bye.
OLBERMANN: All right. And what does big money do in response? Run a secret fee scam on military veterans. Eliot Spitzer joins me for that. Then, Glenn Beck claims Occupy Wall Street will lead to gas chambers. And finally, the protesters speak for themselves, the declaration from Zuccotti Park. I'll read it in full ahead on "Countdown." Also, two headlines we're not covering tonight you should know about if you don't. Steve Jobs has died at the age of 56, and Sarah Palin has declared she's not running for president.
OLBERMANN: Breaking news from Occupy Wall Street and from Ryan Devereaux of "Democracy Now," who reported for us earlier in the week. This timestamp on this was at 16 minutes past the hour of 8:00 Eastern.
Broadway and Wall Street protesters attempted to enter into Wall Street. Police pushed back. Fights started. The fights ensued randomly pepper spraying the crowd. Forces came out. More police showed up. Arrests were made, at least 20 people in the eye line of Ryan Devereaux. Barricades knocked down. Unclear what's going to happen next. Obviously we will keep you posted as we can.
The first official statement has come in from the protesters. If you'll permit me, it reads like a special comment, so I'll read it as one.
Congressman Slaughter believes there's a chance for - to get his vote on Citizens United retroactively recused. That would be Justice Thomas. Does the constitutional expert Jonathan Turley believe that?
And it's hard to believe that on the day Sarah Palin says she's not running for president - thank God. Thank, Allah. Thank, Jesus. Thank, Vishnu. Thank whoever you got - the most sexist thing ever said about Sarah Palin would be said by her own boss. "Worst Persons" ahead on "Countdown," and the latest from whatever is happening at Wall Street and Broadway. Stand by.
OLBERMANN: It is amazing to consider that just in the last week as the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown by leaps and bounds. One of those being occupied - Bank of America - responded by instituting a $5 fee for anybody who uses a Bank of America debit card. Then, CitiBank added a $15 fee for its free checking.
In our fourth story, as events in Wall Street continue to unfold, and we will keep you updated if there are any further developments. As Marie Antoinette-ish as all that sounds, it's nothing compared to a new report that other banks imposed secret illegal fees on military personnel and veterans.
A suit filed in Atlanta federal court alleges that several banks, including a venerable one - who's who of bailed out banks, were involved in "A brazen scheme to defraud both our nation's veterans and the United States Treasury, claiming that banks charged unallowable fees, and then deliberately concealed those facts from the VA to obtain taxpayer-backed guarantees for the loans."
Loans to military members past and present guaranteed by the Veteran Affairs department, with the stipulation that the lenders do not charge attorneys fees or closing fees - however, two mortgage brokers who brought the suit claim the lenders told them concealing those fees inside the title examination fee was done. The case specifically talks about refinancing loans which might seem minor, but over the last decade, there have been over 1.2 million of those loans, and according to the plaintiffs, up to 90 percent of them may have been defrauded to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. With that, as the start of the answer to the question, how did Wall Street get itself occupied? Let me welcome back former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. Thank you for coming in, sir.
ELIOT SPITZER: A pleasure to be here. Just exciting to see what's going on down there - an ember of citizen protest, progressive politics, people finally standing up to the status quo, just wonderful to see.
OLBERMANN: And with - before I get to the first question about this, the - again, let me update again. All we're working from is from what Ryan Devereaux reported to us from Democracy Now - that the protesters attempted to go into Wall Street after this very successful march of 15,000 or more. And they went into Wall Street and the police pushed back, fights ensued and there was random pepper spraying into the crowd. Mounted officers - horse officers, the cavalry - came in, and more police showed up. There have been arrests. At least 20 people that Ryan Devereaux can claim having seen arrested. So, things are going on as we speak, and we're going to keep you updated throughout the hour.
As we look to the reason that it's happened, that it's happened in the first place. When you look at a group like Occupy Wall Street, based on your past dealing with Wall Street as governor and before that, do you ask yourself what the hell took so long?
SPITZER: Absolutely, because - look, there are a lot of people who have been saying for quite some time now - the banks have been acting in a way that violates basic decency, every law, every principle of ethics. They have been bailed out with our money, the moment that they got what they needed to pay their bonuses, they said "Oops, we'd better turn off the spicket. No money to refinance, no money for jobs, no money for education." It has been one of the most heinous moments in our politics where the plutocrats got everything they needed and real people got nothing.
And so, what we're seeing down there in the street - and this is wonderful politics. It's not politicians leading it, it's not even existing leaders from the media. It is real people. This is how political movements really start. The environmental movement started that way, the labor movement, the peace movement, the women's rights - this is great to watch.
OLBERMANN: And - and, you would never describe conflict in which there has been pepper spray used and people feeling as if they've been blinded, and that - remind people, of course, obviously, they don't necessarily know that it's going to go away.
OLBERMANN: You're just blinded. It's now temporarily blinded is a retrospective term. We don't ever want to see something like that. But again, throughout this process, before those four women who were plastic-bonded in were sprayed by one officer - Officer Bologna. And then, there were 700 arrests on Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend. This thing was petering out. And once again, it looks like - with what's happening tonight - with those, again, unconfirmed reports of at least 20 arrests after a peaceful march that this is going to be exacerbated by the New York police department.
SPITZER: What the NYPD did with the 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge was the single best public relations for the protesters.
SPITZER: Because suddenly, people stood up and said, "Wait a minute, I agree with these protesters. I'm with them emotionally, viscerally, in my bones, I know they're right. Why are the police arresting them, and there hasn't been a single arrest of a senior Wall Street executive?" Not one. Not one out of the Obama administration justice department. They say they're investigating, and yet 700 arrests of good, decent people saying something is wrong with our economy.
OLBERMANN: We used to have a tax in this country on the trading of stocks and bonds - and there weren't derivatives at that time, it's prior to 1960 - but, now Representative DeFazio and Senator Harkin have proposed exactly that - instituting taxes on stocks, on bonds, on derivatives. It's done in Europe. Is that sort of a plausible first step to addressing some of the concerns on Wall Street?
SPITZER: There are so many benefits to imposing that tax. One, it generates a lot of revenue that we need for a jobs program, education, all the other things. Two, it would stop some of the high-speed trading that serves no good public purpose. Computer-driven trading, which is - according to some estimates - half to two-thirds of the volume, it's all Goldman trading to Bank of America, buying it back. It does nothing for society, and yet, it is what is driving the market and the volatility, hurting the real investors like you and me or hundreds of thousands - millions of others. Taxing that would be good for the market on top of everything else.
OLBERMANN: Ultimately in this, does Occupy Wall Street and the forces for change here - do they have a chance of affecting actual change? Maybe not everything all at once, but even incremental, even something - just one thing to hang your hat on in one year, or is the corporate grip on this country too entrenched to ever be loosened at this point?
SPITZER: Well, you're kind of like Sisyphus rolling the rock up to the top, and then you get close, and suddenly, all the interests come back and push you back. But, here's the thing, Keith. This is organic, it is genuine, it is amassing more and more support day by day. It has touched a nerve and I think this could really begin to say to the Obama administration "Hey, you don't understand what we, the public, are saying to you." He's off there - you know, he has been so flat on this issue of Wall Street and the economy. Maybe this will finally push the president to speak with a new, more aggressive, dynamic voice.
OLBERMANN: You may have heard Errol Louis say this was a two by four to the city of New York today because it was so ad hoc. And for an ad hoc arrangement to get 10,000 to 20,000 - that's probably a good ballpark figure for this march - was extraordinary. Is that - would that be your estimation?
SPITZER: Oh, I think this is huge, has potential. Now, these things can tip off into nowhere very quickly. But, if you begin to see people like Joe Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate economist, who goes down there and starts talking about what needs to be done. Paul Krugman, Robert Reich - who's out at Berkley, but who was President Clinton's labor secretary - the people who are really smart about the policies we need to put in place. If they emerge as voices, - and I think it's better that it be they, not politicians, not establishment people in the media - they can begin to create a real citizen-driven movement here that could change the tenor of our politics.
OLBERMANN: The former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer. It's always a pleasure. Thanks for your time.
SPITZER: Keith, thank you.
OLBERMANN: As we continue to follow the reports of at least 20 people pepper sprayed in the aftermath of the peaceful march of 10,000 to 20,000 people in downtown New York tonight, and other arrests, and horse-drawn - or horse-riding - policemen entering a crowd, we're continuing to try to get further details on what's happening at this hour on Wall Street. There's been 19 days of talk about Occupy Wall Street. Until now, there's not been a formal message from its protesters, until now. What we believe will be the first reading of the first declaration by the general assembly at Zuccotti Park, and we'll do that next.
OLBERMANN: Anjali Mullany, reporter of the New York Daily News has tweeted at this hour that police are indeed pepper spraying, and arresting Occupy Wall Street protesters, on Wall Street.
Additionally, I can see protesters in kettled area, on Wall and Broadway doing jazz hands in air.
Additionally, we had told you earlier from Ryan Devereaux of Democracy Now! - who was on the program earlier in the week - that he reports from Broadway and Wall Street, protesters attempted to enter the Wall Street area after the, basically 12-block march from Foley Square back to Zuccotti Park via city hall, that police pushed back, fights ensued, random pepper spraying into the crowd that tried to occupy Wall Street, literally, to get onto Wall Street. Police on horseback came out, more police showed up, arrests were made, and Ryan Devereaux said he personally saw at least 20 people arrested. Obviously nothing close to the 700 at Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, but barricades were knocked down, and so after an extraordinarily peaceful, and accomplish filled day, the Occupy Wall Street protesters, as night falls in New York, it's an entirely different scene, and we're gonna continue to provide you with details as they come into us here at the control desk.
For the whole of the time that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been making their case for a sea change in the way we Americans permit big business to draw and quarter, and circumscribe our lives. Media - too corrupt or too dense to understand anything more complicated than whether the blonde is missing, or verdict is guilty - have parroted "What do they want? What is their catch phrase?"
In our third story, it is not a catch phrase, but it is a declaration of what they want. That the document - which I will read in full in a moment - is not a list of laws to be repealed nor politicians to be elected, may only confuse the precocious ninth graders now passing for TV anchors and news men these days, but the absence of the kind of painted footsteps with which they used to mark the floors of dance-instruction studios is - in a way - breathtaking.
The two by four that Errol Louis described - it implies that there is so much to change, that such a tipping point has been reached, that some easy to apply band-aids just are not going to be enough - and it implies that the commentators, and politicians, and moneyed interests that do not come to understand the scope of what must change will be without influence, and without power before they realize that the change has happened.
So with that as preamble, here is formally and finally, what Occupy Wall Street says and wants. It is, in essence, their special comment:
"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. That our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors. That a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people, and the Earth, and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
We come to you at a time when corporations - which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality - run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here as is our right to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in workplaces based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is, itself, a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut worker's health care and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams, but look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products, endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people's lives, or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully kept people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners, even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City general assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard."
The statement issued from Zuccotti Park by the general assembly at Occupy Wall Street. We will continue, and we'll continue to update you on the events and the violence that ensued this evening.
OLBERMANN: We hope to have an eyewitness account for you in a matter of moments from what's happening on Wall Street after the protesters there. The Occupy Wall Street crowd attempted to actually occupy Wall Street, but the latest from - Ryan Devereaux of Democracy Now - tweets that "NYPD arrest bus just passed amid massive boos. The kettle net is up on the east side of Broadway."
Also here - is retroactive recusal, the premise of disqualifying Clarence Thomas' vote on Citizens United, a constitutional possibility or just a pipe dream? I'll ask Jonathan Turley.
And before that, the "Worsts." Same day she acknowledges she is not running for president, the most amazingly sexist and sexual and demeaning thing is said about her by her boss. Sexual harassment suit? Probably not. That woman is a victim? Stay with us.
OLBERMANN: Let's recap the breaking news at this hour. After a march of between 10,000 and 20,000 protesters that Occupy Wall Street in New York, went out - went over without any apparent hitch, violence or police involvement. Many of these protesters at the end of the march back at the headquarters - Zuccotti Park - decided to try to actually occupy Wall Street, to go on to Wall Street - and this would have been after the trading day was long over and most of the activity of downtown Manhattan had quieted to its early-evening levels.
At that point, according to many witnesses - reporters ranging from - reporters from The New York Daily News to Ryan Devereaux of Democracy Now to others - at that point, at least 20 of the protestors were arrested as police decided to keep the protesters off Wall Street. Many others were kettled. There were reports of pepper spraying being used again which, of course - the fulcrum point at which these minor protests occupying Wall Street graduated into something entirely different nearly two weeks ago, when the video became public of four young women trapped behind plastic kettling netting and were unable to move and were sprayed by a police officer named Tony Bologna.
The mounted police officers apparently walked into the scene and we had last report of many protesters behind that plastic netting with their arms raised in what was described by one reporter as "jazz hands" - that being used somewhat sarcastically, I would imagine. The fulcrum point of all this - to use that word twice in one paragraph - was the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway where we find J.A. Myerson of Alternet.org, an eyewitness to all this. Thanks for checking in with us, J.A. Give me - correct whatever mistakes I've just made in describing what happened.
J.A. MYERSON: You described it essentially correctly. We were at Liberty Plaza Park and the mood was ecstatic and elated that the park was completely full. There is no way of shooting the 20,000 people from the march into the Zuccotti Park. Everyone was cheerful and a group decided that they would go march on Wall Street itself, which, of course, is prohibited - it's always been prohibited to us.
Estimates I've heard range from a thousand to three thousand people. Pretty quickly, we started hearing back that people had been arrested, reports of beating and of pepper spray, people coming back with footage that's being uploaded right now to occupywallstreet.org.
A group attempted to go to Wall Street with cameras to film any of the action and were stopped on Cedar, a block up on Broadway, prohibited from going farther south and even prohibited from crossing the street. Occasionally, some of the protesters made moves to defy the blockade and occasionally knocked over barricades. Some were arrested there, but it was very, very difficult for anyone to get down to Wall Street. I've been walking around different blocks and here I am at Broadway and Wall Street where there's an enormous police presence - people behind barricades and it's very difficult to get a sense of what's going on here. It's very, very difficult to get a sense of how many people have been arrested or what tactics were used to arrest them.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, what we're seeing now as you're describing for us is the live stream from the site you just mentioned, the occupywallstreet.org - where the - certainly, the tone of things seem to have settled down, but just looking at this anecdotally, it looks like there are more policemen involved at this scene - and I can't pick out the corner of the distance that I'm looking at the video from - but is it possible that there are as many police were involved in this altercation at Broadway and Wall as there were protesters?
MYERSON: Oh, that's definitely possible. What we saw a block up before I was able to get down to Wall Street, were buses and buses and many, many, many cars and police bikes driving down Broadway, incurring boos from the protestors barricaded behind the steel grate. I'm now seeing people being extracted from Wall Street in handcuffs by police, being put into police vans and police cars. I'm noticing some news vans outside on Wall Street - or on Broadway and Rector. Protesters being loaded into paddy wagons right now.
OLBERMANN: We had a number originally from Ryan Devereaux that he had been able to see just from where he was standing at that intersection, at least 20 arrests. Would you suggest that that's anywhere near a final number or could it be far higher than that?
MYERSON: It - I'm sure it's much higher than that. As these things always go, the early numbers are considerably lower than the final estimates.
OLBERMANN: The premise that things had gone fairly well and then the interaction between the police and the protesters during the march itself seems to have been verified. This all started when the crowd was essentially too big to get back into Zuccotti Park and some people decided to make a further effort and actually try to go on to Wall Street. Is that essentially the summarizing of it?
MYERSON: It's definitely true that things went well the entire day. It was peaceful and exciting. I would contest the description that things went awry later, or that people went to Wall Street simply because there was not enough room.
MYERSON: People went to Wall Street in order, specifically, to engage in civil disobedience, and in order to draw attention to the nefariousness that comes out of that street, and were arrested knowing so well that that was a danger that they were running, and this was a stand they were taking. I am not sure that they would agree with you that this was an undesirable outcome. But that sort of remains to be seen. Certainly the police brutality we have seen footage of - and heard reports of - that's something no one wants to see. But I know that many of the people were fully aware of the possibility that they would be arrested and willing to incur arrests.
OLBERMANN: All right. Now, obviously, so much of the information at this point is anecdotal - second hand - and may turn out to be inaccurate later. But just to run a few of the things that have appeared on the "people's network," if you will, as an acronym or as a euphemism for Twitter. If you have heard any of these things, just tell me one way or the other. There is a report that the New York Police Department arrested a New York Times reporter during the last two hours. There's another report that a 12-year-old girl was arrested tonight as part of all this. Do you have any way of - do either of those stories sound familiar to you?
MYERSON: They certainly sound familiar to me because they happened on the Brooklyn Bridge last week. I haven't heard that that was true of tonight in either case.
OLBERMANN: All right, that may be a repeat of that. That's why we're asking for the specific details. What's happened back at Zuccotti Park? Do you have any idea? Because there's always been speculation that at some point, with the resources available to it, the city of New York would step on this protest and clear out Zuccotti Park by hook or by crook.
MYERSON: The huge number of protesters that assembled in Zuccotti Park at the end of the march from Foley Square left the residual group of protesters that's too large to get rid of without considerable force or violence. I think Zuccotti Park is safe. As I left, I saw George Gresham, the president of 1199SEIU, giving an interview on camera. I think that generally in Zuccotti Park, the mood is still happy. There was music being played over a loud speaker, which was the first time we have seen that happen. Zuccotti Park, I think, is still going pretty strong. But the - I don't know how to say it - the hostility that we are seeing is all on Wall Street and at the cut-offs on Broadway at Cedar, where cops are not allowing protesters - or any civilians - to proceed southward on Broadway.
OLBERMANN: The live feed that we have been watching, J.A., has been largely a street scene, and I haven't seen mounted officers, but that was one of the original reports from Ryan Devereaux. Did you see officers on horseback?
MYERSON: I didn't, but I heard the same reports from people who were with Ryan Devereaux. So there is at least multiple sources.
OLBERMANN: Is there any - you suggested that the outcome was - of the arrests here - was not unforeseen. Is there any sense - Eliot Spitzer mentioned this, and we've talked about it previously on the program with other folks - the sense that the biggest favors done to Occupy Wall Street in the last three weeks have been done by the overreactions of the New York Police Department. Do you think that is a prevailing sense tonight among the protesters?
MYERSON: I am not sure if it's a prevailing sense among the protesters. In my estimation, it's absolutely true. The uptick in media coverage and public sympathy that happened after the footage of Tony Bologna spraying those defenseless girls in the face with horrible toxins, that definitely helps the protest to grow. And as you've seen today, it's now on the order of tens of thousands of people willing to take a Wednesday afternoon and march through the belly of the corporatist beast after three weeks ago, this being just a Google group, and about 30 of us emailing one another. So certainly, the image of the police brutality has amplified the affect of this protest and its public visibility.
OLBERMANN: Would you use that word - "brutality?" Is that actually within the realm of possibility here? Because brutality implies force that is entirely unjustifiable.
MYERSON: I would use the term police brutality. If there are legal definitions that I am unaware of, then I - I sort of want everyone to take it with a grain of salt. But watching all of the footage, and watching the police crackdowns that I have seen with my eyes, I have not seen protesters do a single thing to incur the types of violence that was brought down upon them - smashing their property. There were reports today of police clubbing protesters about the heads with batons on Wall Street. That's brutal, especially when it's being used on a protest that is trying to be non-violent and has undergone non-violence training.
OLBERMANN: We noticed, by the way, as we were speculating about the reports earlier of mounted officers - and a horse in a crowd is an extraordinarily dangerous and potent weapon. The camera pushed in for a moment - it was either the world's tallest policemen - he would have had to have been about 13 feet tall - or he was mounted. He was on horseback. So I think we can confirm at least one in those cases. I want to get back to a number that you threw out that perhaps at that confluence of Wall Street and Broadway, when a thousand to three thousand, as you said, of the protesters - and that's a rough estimate, I am not asking you to testify to that number - but roughly that many people may have gone into the area that the police told them not to go into. Do you have any idea, percentagewise, either how many of them met with arrest or how many of them met with physical resistance from the police?
MYERSON: I have absolutely no idea. The footage that I have seen is a limited number of people being beat up or maced. And you know - if Ryan Devereaux is anything close to right - 20 people out of a thousand to three thousand is not significant. But as you know, Keith, the numbers will roll in over the course of the evening, and we will have a clearer picture of exactly what happened on Wall Street tomorrow morning.
OLBERMANN: What happens, do you suppose, to the protest tomorrow morning? Because every time there has been an attempt to even to arrest or to punish four or five protesters, let alone what happened at Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday night, the thing has grown exponentially the next day and the next week. What happens hence force to Occupy Wall Street after tonight's events?
MYERSON: Well, it's difficult to say. I mean, the occupation of Liberty Plaza Park has grown - essentially - to capacity, and there is much discussion among the protestors there about what to happen when the numbers overflow. I think that one thing that this will result in is a surge in protest activity in the many, many other cities in the United States, and even all around the world, that are staging solidarity occupations. I know that there were some arrests in Seattle today - 24 confirmed and maybe some more. So I suspect that many more people who are sympathetic to this cause and want to liberate democratic politics from the corporate wealth that enslaved it, that those folks will turn out in large numbers all over the country tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: J.A. Myerson - I begin to think that you are correct - of Alternet.org, has been good enough to give us his eyewitness account from the corner of Wall Street and Broadway where today's protest march by Occupy Wall Street turned into something quite different this evening. Obviously, our other segments planned for tonight with Jonathan Turley on "Worst Persons" will have to be postponed until tomorrow night. We are going to take a quick break and then wrap up what's happened at Occupy Wall Street tonight as "Countdown" continues.
OLBERMANN: Let's take the remaining two minutes of "Countdown" to summarize an extraordinary day in New York at Occupy Wall Street.
The live stream pictures you are seeing from here that have now - frozen, of course, when we need them to be live stream - are from occupywallstreet.org. That is the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, after a march between Foley Square, where the courthouse is in downtown Manhattan, and the Zuccotti Park area at the foot of Wall Street, where the organizers and the protesters have been centralized.
Various - a variously numbered group - possibly a few hundred, according to Gawker.com, possibly up to a thousand or 3,000, according to Alternet.org and our witness J.A. Myerson, who was just on the phone with us for minutes. Several hundred, perhaps a couple of thousand, decided to take a civil disobedience step onto Wall Street. They were met by a phalanx of New York Police Department officers, many of them on horseback, many of them using - according to witnesses - batons to hit the protesters, others using pepper spray that was apparently sprayed randomly into the crowd of advancing protesters of some few hundred, or perhaps a thousand or more.
And there were at least 20 arrests according to Ryan Devereaux of Democracy Now, although the Gawker reporter on the scene reported 10 arrests. Again, these were witness accounts of arrest, not some sort of official police figure. There has been nothing, officially, out of the NYPD. The major news organizations of New York have been almost silent on this, even on Twitter, although there are reports of reporters from these various organizations somehow being touched by the events of Wall Street today after what had been an extraordinary march of perhaps as many as 20,000 - more likely somewhere around 15,000 - people earlier in the day.
That is our time for tonight. We will be back tomorrow and give you, obviously, a full round-up from the scene. I am going to Wall Street tomorrow. Good night from New York.