Thursday, October 06, 2011

New York, New York

"Money talks, b_ _ _ _ _ _ _ walks." Or more delicately, power follows money.

Several days ago, The New York Times reported

In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to the enforcement action.

“Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”

But many protesters said they believed the police had tricked them, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across, only to trap them in orange netting after hundreds had entered.

“The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who marched but was not arrested. reports that last night, "hundreds if not thousands" of protesters were arrested, not including their photographer, hit in the eyes by pepper spray from a police officer , and their reporter, hit by an officer's baton.

Three thousand miles away in Los Angeles,

the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa distributed 100 rain ponchos to the demonstrators on Wednesday while seven of the 15 councilmembers voted in favor of a resolution in support of the Occupy LA protest.

The resolution, which is slated for a final vote next week, called the protest "a peaceful and vibrant exercise in First Amendment rights."

As part of the resolution, the council will vote later this month on a measure that would require the city to divest from financial institutions that have not cooperated with measures to prevent foreclosures.

David Atkins comments

This is the difference between a city beholden to the vampires in the financial sector, and a city that isn't. It's the difference between a mayor with a community organizing and civic activism background, and a mayor beloved of the corrupt Third Way crowd who "earned" his chops playing games with other people's money. It's the difference between real progressivism, and authoritarian conservatism with a happy, socially liberal smile on its face.

All true and relevant, and a great description of Michael Bloomberg. But there is another factor, given, according to its own website

JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. The money will pay for 1,000 new patrol car laptops, as well as security monitoring software in the NYPD's main data center.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon a note expressing "profound gratitude" for the company's donation.

"These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe," Dimon said. "We're incredibly proud to help them build this program and let them know how much we value their hard work."

This donation, money well spent, came in before the Wall Street protests. Naked Capitalism argues CEO Jaime

Dimon is one of the most powerful and connected corporate leaders in Gotham City. If he thinks the police donation was worthwhile, he might encourage other bank and big company CEOs to make large donations.

And what sort of benefits might JPM get? It is unlikely that there would be anything as crass as an explicit quid pro quo. But it certainly is useful to be confident that the police are on your side, say if an executive or worse an entire desk is caught in a sex or drugs scandal. Recall that Charles Ferguson in Inside Job alleged that the use of hookers is pervasive on Wall Street (duh) and is invoiced to the banks.

Or the police might be extra protective of your interests. Today, OccupyWallStreet decided to march across the Brooklyn Bridge (a proud New York tradition) to Chase Manhattan Plaza in Brooklyn. Reports in the media indicate that the police at first seemed to be encouraging the protestors not only to cross the bridge, but were walking in front of the crowd, seemingly escorting them across....

Whether it's Mayor Bloomberg or the police brass, the powers that run New York City are very, very threatened by this movement. That is partly why Paul Krugman summed it up best when he blogged "Never mind the street theater and annoying antics of some participants; this might be the start of something both big and good."

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