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Wall Street "park" is developer's

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Mon., 11/21/11
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The resilient Occupy Wall Street group in New York City doesn't actually "occupy" Wall Street. Instead, their encampment is in nearby Zuccotti Park. And therein lies a story.

Ironically, this people's movement against the overbearing power of Corporate America finds itself in a corporate-owned park. It's named for John Zuccotti, who is not some noted civic leader, but the chairman of Brookfield Office Properties, a big corporate developer.

In 2006, this outfit erected a 54-story office tower across the street from what was then an open space for the public, called Liberty Plaza. In one of those infuriating inside deals between corporate and government officials, Brookfield was given a zoning variance by the city to build a taller structure than the building code allowed--plus, it was given possession of Liberty Plaza.

To mark its corporate property, Brookfield put its chairman's name on the space. While Zuccotti Park technically must be kept open to the public, it is governed by rules set by Brookfield. No surprise, then, that after three weeks of the occupation, the corporation abruptly announced a new set of rules to prohibit camping, tents, sleeping bags, laying on the ground... and otherwise sustaining an assembly of citizens exercising their constitutional rights.

Thanks to a loud public outcry, this crude corporate attempt to oust Occupy failed--at least for the time being. But Zuccotti is still a corporate park, meaning an ugly crackdown on people peacefully protesting for democracy in America remains a threat. Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street put its own, non-corporate brand on the space: "Liberty Square."



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Filed Under: Common good, Money, Wealth