What's in a name?

The resilient Occupy Wall Street group in New York City certainly occupies the minds of the banksters who're the target of this protest against economic injustice – but the group doesn't actually "occupy" Wall Street. Instead, they're in nearby Zuccotti Park. And therein lies a story.

The resilient Occupy Wall Street group in New York City certainly occupies the minds of the banksters who’re the target of this protest against economic injustice – but the group doesn’t actually “occupy” Wall Street. Instead, they’re in nearby Zuccotti Park. And therein lies a story.

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

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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 an insider deal 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 promptly plastered its chairman’s name on the space. While Zuccotti Park technically must be kept open to the public, it is maintained by the corporation, and (most importantly) governed by rules the corporation unilaterally sets. No surprise, then, that after only three weeks of the occupation, Brookfield 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, however, 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 has put its own, non-corporate brand on the space: “Liberty Square.”

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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