Black Wall Streeters on the fence about Occupy

theGRIO REPORT - As Americans voice their dissatisfaction about Wall Street, we wanted to hear from some workers on Wall Street on what the movement means to them...

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As Americans voice their dissatisfaction about Wall Street, we wanted to hear from some workers on Wall Street on what the movement means to them.

I completely understand the frustration of the OWS protesters. It is a fractured view of capitalism that can justify bailing out a company that has made bad investments. And after the bailouts the banks’ failure to lend has just exacerbated the problem. I just wish their protest had more organization, a clearer message and some specificity to their demands.

They also weaken their case by behaving badly and not reporting sexual assaults in their encampment. That the protest is global and has offshoots in so many different countries suggests a global frustration with the financial industry. I think it deserves serious consideration.

The message of Occupy Wall Street is unclear and therefore paints a broad brush over Wall Street. These broad strokes remind me of many times in the past when groups, institutions, or individuals were unfairly stereotyped because of the actions of a few. Overall I feel that Wall Street has provided myself and many others with a chance to improve the lives of our families and to give back to our communities in magnitudes impermissible by many other professions.

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I think the mainstream media plays a role. The people in my family say they are tired of the wealth divide and think since people work on Wall Street they are the 1 percent.

The rest of us are working class and middle class [who] work on Wall Street.

My wife and I, we’re the trifecta of the 99 percent. I’ve been laid off before, we have student loans for law school that we’ll be paying for the rest of our life. We also bought our house at the top of the market in 2006.

The rhetoric of demonizing a particular industry does not do the public any good nor does it help the community. You should at least understand the cause and the message.

I am standing on the shoulders of those who have protested in this country. Protesting is a positive tool if used wisely. Think of the prolific civic leaders in the country, despite ideology, they were articulate with a message. Looking for a turn or chance at bat.

Protest for a purpose. You’ve got to have a clear message. They (OWS) should be in Washington. You’ve got to be where you may have a chance to garner influence. I question how many of them are registered voters. Do like the Tea Party go down there — Washington, DC.

In this city the tolerance level will decline in time unless the police does something stupid.

By the way we never got into the amount of the “peoples money ” that has been spent in the form of taxes to support overtime. As one who worked on Wall Street during 9/11, I would prefer resources to be allocated differently.


While the Occupy Wall Street movement does appropriately call attention to a widening wealth gap, despite all of the movement’s visibility, their main accomplishments are (and will be) limited.

Specifically, they only highlight an issue — and one that is not new — but don’t propose implementable solutions (or realistic ones outside of a wealth redistribution and penalizing banks). A more appropriate place to redirect the attention would be to occupy Washington, and specifically congress.

For the most part, Wall Street is functioning like it needs to in the marketplace (although some reforms have been needed). Government, on the other hand, is truly failing us and that’s where the movement should be focused.

The second issue for me personally is that the movement seems to have a lot of rhetoric around the disappearing middle class and unemployment, but there is a loud silence on the fact that the unemployment rate in the African American community is 17 percent.

Moreover, the unemployment rate for minorities remains far higher than the national rate, yet these facts are rarely mentioned (even in the context of a distribution of wealth dialogue).

So as a result, the movement highlights a problem (but only part of the problem), concentrates blame on one source (wall street), and ultimately does nothing that will address the issue.

Black Wall Streeters, cont’d:

Senior Equity Trader

“I thinking that’s while the energy is good it is somewhat misguided…as reported this morning wall street has lost 200k jobs and counting…there has been a massive reset as far as what it means to be in this business. I am not the cause for any of this nor are the majority of the regulars that go to work and put in 12+ hours everyday for ever decreasing wages (granted on a relative basis we still do better than avg Joe)…advocating the destruction of capitalism is nothing short of irresponsible…in times like these we need to fire on all cylinders if we can hope to stem the tide of joblessness…the financial service industry is at the epicenter of a number of industries. The key is to address the issues of disparity that have existed historically and not let the real issues be hijacked by a group of hippies that just need some thing to do so that their lives have meaning”.

senior trader

“I disagree mainly because punishing Wall Street is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Capital markets are important aspect of small and medium size businesses. It’s an efficient way to raise money. Let’s not forget the trickle down economic factor and the significant tax receipts provided”.

Senior buyside trader

“sure and Wall street isn’t being unfairly singled out. It is just that people on Wall Street are so removed from the average American they can’t even understand or care to understand that 200k is not only a lot of money but 4 times what the average family of 4 in America earns. Wall street also seems to forget that they created their own issues and received a bailout and the individuals outside of wall street that were caught in the mess they create loss everything if not everything a significant portion of their wealth”.

Investment Banker

“I think their complaints are misplaced. It’s not a wall street issue, it’s really the capitalist system this country promotes. Capitalism is not about wall street (necessarily) is about profit maximization and self interest.”

Senior Treader

“The movement does have a point. Wall street has been insensitive to the needs of main street. I just have a problem with who are taking up this cause. They seem like lazy opportunist to me”

Senior Buyside Trader

“people don’t care that people earn more they care that the law seems to apply differently based on the money you earn and this economic downside has shown that in Bold strokes”


“As a trader on Wall street I feel that those that are part of the Occupy Wall Street are full of sh*t. To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh – these are over priviledge white kids that can’t get jobs in the fields they went to school for…and I have to agree. Yes, it’s unfair that the economy is worse off than it was 4 years ago. And yes, wall street greed can be argued as the cause of it. And yes, it’s unfair that people who’ve been at jobs 20 years, even 30years are getting laid off that are not on wall street. I know, I know…life ain’t fair. Whoever said it was? Myself being one of them, but you know, there gonna have to be a time in ones life where you have to pull yourself up by the “bootstraps” and make some things happen. Hustle…and hustle hard! A lot of those people that are out there chanting and banging drums don’t know how to do that.

Senior salesperson

I disagree and Wall Street is being unfairly singled out, period”