Occupiers descended on Goldman Sachs yesterday in solidarity with the West Coast Port blockades which managed to shut down three major ports: Oakland, Portland and Longview. The march in New York began across the street from Zuccotti Park at 7:30 am and ended at 200 West Street where a heavy police presence was waiting with barricades to prevent protesters from blocking the front of the building. Nearly 300 protesters formed picket lines in front of and behind the building chanting, “Everyone pays their tax — everyone but Goldman Sachs!”
Eventually a mock press conference broke out complete with the the “head” of Goldman Sachs — a woman wearing a giant squid hat. A faux Fox news reporter and several others from the crowd asked questions of Mr. Sachs. The press conference moderator explained to the crowd — who were sitting on the cold concrete — “Mr. Sachs only speaks squid, good thing we have a translator.” The use of the squid is a reference to Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article in which he said, “The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
After the press conference, word spread that occupiers would be forming a flash mob in the winter garden atrium across the street from Goldman headquarters in the World Financial Center. Once gathered in the atrium, around 10 am, protesters began chanting, “Occupy Brookfield!” Brookfield is the private real estate company that owns the building as well as Zuccotti Park. Occupiers then danced, sang and linked hands to form a large circle in the middle of the atrium while a significant number of police officers began to surround the crowd. After several minutes, the police got on the megaphone but protesters drowned out their message. Protesters began dispersing in various directions around the building, some up to the top of the stairs and others up the escalator. Occupy Big Food was with a group that took some long corridors out of the building and then back around to behind the building. It was at that time we learned that 17 people were arrested inside the atrium.
Goldman Sachs is Big Food
When we think of large food companies Goldman Sachs doesn’t come to mind — but in fact Goldman Sachs has broad reach into the global food supply. Here are a few examples:
- In relation to yesterday’s port shutdown, two West Coast companies: port operator SSA Marine and grain exporter EGT were the center of the protests. Goldman Sachs owns a major stake in SSA Marine. Goldman Sachs is heavily involved in the commodity trading of food around the world. It stockpiles rice, wheat, corn, sugar, and livestock to raise commodity prices around the globe. This effectively creates profit for the company while many people are less and less able to afford basic staples.
- Goldman Sachs has major assets in Shineway Industrial Group, one of the largest meat processors in China.
- Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group joined forces with C.H. James & Company and together they acquired 37 Burger King restaurants in Chicago. Annual revenues exceed $50 million.
The squid is an apt metaphor for the type of global reach that Goldman Sachs exerts over a wide range of political and industrial systems. As journalist Chris Hedges has said, “There is no way within the corporate state to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs.” William Scott of the OWS library said yesterday after the protest, “This is why we have to occupy everywhere.”
**Matt Taibbi had this to say about yesterday’s OWS action in Rolling Stone, ” I almost shed tears of pride this morning when I read this hilarious passage in the Daily News: Earlier Monday, about 300 protesters in squid costumes surged outside the offices of Goldman Sachs investment bank shouting, “We fry Calimari!” and “Everyone pays their tax – everyone but Goldman, Sachs!”