Wall Street people in suits drink champagne as protests rage

Ken Layne at Wonkette points to this provocative video. Not entirely sure of its true provenance, or who's doing what, but it's definitely struck a popular chord, and gone viral. I remember protesting on Market Street in San Francisco a decade ago or so, near financial firms, and seeing bankers and business-folk sneer and mock our ragtag hordes. Nothing new, but the champagne sure is a nice touch.

Update: In the comments, Boing Boing reader Iaian says,

i was there that day. that's cipriani, an event space just off wall street. the cops had us blocked up in the intersection outside. the people on the balcony just happened to be there, so the crowd turned its focus on them. the angrier the the people in the street seemed to get, the more pleased the people on the balcony seemed to be. i really wish i'd brought a tomato.


  1. Or maybe they just want to go hang out on their balcony to check out whats going on? I know if I had a balcony there I’d be out on it, and probably with a drink.

  2. Assuming the worst, and that they are Wall Street wonks.

    I’m tempted to say “Don’t feed the trolls,” but if it actually gets attention to the Occupy Wall Street cause..

      1. I don’t think the guillotine is next.  But I see a lot of similarities between us and pre-Revolutionary France.

        -abs might think it’s not “next”, but he does think it’s coming if things aren’t changed, and if they don’t change he’ll be in favor of it as well

  3. @Graeme McLaughlin To suggest that the goons on Wall Street have earned their wealth by being smarter than the rest of us suggests that you have never met anyone who has made any money on Wall Street.

  4. i was there that day. that’s cipriani, an event space just off wall street. the cops had  us blocked up in the intersection outside. the people on the balcony just happened to be there, so the crowd turned its focus on them.

    the angrier the the people in the street seemed to get, the more pleased the people on the balcony seemed to be. i really wish i’d brought a tomato.

  5. amazing isn’t it how millions and millions of people are suffering as a direct result of elitist financial machinations and those engaged and brave enough to go out and try to do something about it are mocked by polo shirt wearing trust fund zombies like folks on that balcony and some posters in this thread. I went to a commuter college for a while and since we were hungry working class kids our debate team used to wipe the floor with self-satisfied Ivy League brats. It was obvious they were so used to getting their way that they didn’t feel the need to prepare.
    George Bush is their poster child and most of them, along with him, should be handed a broom and told “sweep or starve”.

    1.  I think the entitled people who blame unfortunate people with less opportunity are dicks.  But there are people who grew up well off, like myself, who support the Occupy Wall Street Protests.  There is disparity in this country and you don’t have to be poor to want the success of your fellow human beings.  I’m not saying you were trying to blame people with both money and morals but I think it’s important to acknowledge that the issues don’t lie solely with class.   I was a debater too, I came from a school with a huge debate team we had tons of evidence and hand tailored cases.  In a tournament we ran into another out of state team.  After the round we were talking and they explained how impressed they were with our giant files and how they had no funding.  How they’d struggled to by tickets to the tournament and were all sharing one hotel room.  My partner and I looked at each other and then said “What files do you guys want?  We’ll give them to you.”  I took a lot of shit from people at tournaments for going to a rich high school.     People weren’t willing to look past the stereotype and that’s an issue for me where ever you’re looking.

  6. Too many assumptions for this to have any real relevancy about the people.
    Not that I’m denying the probability of the assumptions, just that assuming… we’ll you know.
    But if you do follow that line of logic; What would you do if, while you were taking your lunch break from a profession you enjoy, a parade of protestors began heckling you because of your profession. I’m not saying that either side/stereotype (greedy capitalist, or dirty hippie) are accurate or without flaw.  But if someone was protesting me at my job (Engineer) I would probably enjoy my lunch, and take pictures. Especially knowing that there is rarely anything you can do to change a protestors mind.

    1. Does the profession you enjoy destroy people’s lives and bankrupt even First World nations? If it does, that air you’re breathing is a waste of resources. 

    2. Still, if a bunch of bridges collapsed due to poor engineering, and they got lots of taxpayer’s money to make sure none of the firms responsible went bankrupt, people would probably be disinclined to take a charitable interpretation of your actions.

  7. Protesting Wall Street…how’s that going for them?

    I’m not saying that because I believe what Wall Street has done/is doing is right or on the up and up, but protesting is a mere inconvenience to the Wall Street types.  Once inside they will forget about your protesting and go about their jobs.  Wall Street cares about money, figure out a way to cause them to loose it and they will take notice in a hurry.  The protest is gathering some attention from the media, but unless they have a plan for the rest of us then I don’t think it’s going to get them very far.

    1. I keep getting the sense that the Occupy Wall Street protest idea isn’t to get Wall Street to pay attention so much as to get the rest of the 99% to pay attention. It’s proven a bit too easy to glaze over yet another march or protest in Washington DC, but in NYC in a visible place like Wall Street, maybe they hope to be too hard to overlook.

      It’s not about changing the money-grubbers in the suits that work there. It’s about waking up the people that walk past and the ones that see it on the news.

      1. “It’s not about changing the money-grubbers in the suits that work there. It’s about waking up the people that walk past and the ones that see it on the news.”

        This.  A thousand times this. 

      2. They are harder to overlook, but the “true democracy” hippy, stoner vibe in a lot of their media is turning people off. I would like to see them actually try to (a) create some sort of coherent ideology, and (b) try to push some former middle managers whose jobs were destroyed in the recession to the forefront. 

        1. wow, both of those things sound great! :-D You should get involved and make sure they do those things…

          That said, it’s well & good to say what we would prefer the protesters to be like, but as it stands THEY are the ones that are out there doing it. Until more “former middle managers” are ‘turned-on’ as activists this is the protest we get.

          Lord knows I’d love to see more middle America types out there protesting. That is the 99% of the folks hurt by the practices that made the economy the shining beacon of democracy it is today (yes, sarcasm). But I’m also aware that I am one of the ones that needs my job too much to risk being out there, too. 

          1. And that’s the philosophy of fear that the authorities always use, whether you work in a coal mine, cubicle, or elsewhere. There are other jobs. I have a large family and we all went out to the streets in support of a fairness ordinance being fought against in our town. We were jeered at, mocked, threatened, but we went; from the youngest (6) to the oldest (14), because I want my children to know there are some things in life more important than the media cocoon of bread and circuses this country is trying to wrap around everyone. So take heart: until you’re out here, we are. But we can’t do it alone, so don’t let us down.

          2. “There are other jobs.”

            The high unemployment rate would beg to differ, as does the fact that it can take some people well over a year to find a new job once they’ve been laid off.

            While it would be awesome if more middle-American types would join in on the protest, I can understand why they are afraid to.  There aren’t necessarily “other jobs” especially if you live in say, Detroit, or other areas with very high unemployment rates.

            People have to think of being able to continue to pay bills.  Being able to continue feeding their family.  Not losing important health benefits that their job provides.  Etc.

          3. You mean all those things which many people in this country are losing as we comment; not that many had the latter, healthcare, to begin with. Sure, it’s a tough choice. Kiss the man where he tells you to kiss him so you can not have to move into an apartment, or make the world a better place so your children don’t have to kiss the man when your lips are too old. Right. Tough choice.

          4. Yes, it is a tough choice, because if they make that choice and lose their job, their asthmatic son suddenly doesn’t have insurance and dies due to lack of medication.  Or they end up on the street, and what good does that do?

            Life is fucking hard enough as it is.  Just living day-today, trying to stay afloat, is difficult, especially if you have a family to think about.  It’s stressful and it’s hard.  To expect that people make their lives even harder is, well, not the answer.

          5. Well then I guess it’s all over but for following directions: “It puts the lotion in the bucket, . . . “

          6. So … I take it you’re protesting?  You’re on the streets protesting?  Or are you just sitting at your desk, typing these things, without actually doing anything about it yourself?

            Not everyone has the luxury to fight against “The Man”. And it’s not always just about “moving into an apartment” instead of staying in the home you own — it is often a life or death, or having-a-roof-over-your-head or living on the street situation. It’s not as simple as you seem to want to make it (“just get another job!”, really? Seriously?).

          7. Read all my posts. My family and I protest, so when folks talk about losing jobs, ailing family members, etc., we know that what they really mean most of the time is ‘It would take gas money to drive there, we’d have to walk with a big group, is there anywhere we could get fast food or should we pack lunch? Ah, let’s catch that movement later.’
            People don’t need to make signs.
            People don’t need to risk lives.
            People don’t need to be arrested.
            Only the handful of people who actually show up risk *ANYTHING*.
            What people don’t want to acknowledge, and what the authorities know and minimize, is that THERE IS SAFETY IN NUMBERS.
            Alone we are lost, together we are strong. All the armchair arguments against this and against that are pointless unless we move together.
            So yes, I put my money where my mouth is. And if more of us did we wouldn’t risk losing our jobs. We wouldn’t all go to jail. We wouldn’t wake up tomorrow morning with fewer rights, less income, and more fear than we did today. It really is that simple.

          8. Then why don’t you HELP people help themselves, and educate them, and try to get them on our side, instead of criticizing them for doing a very normal and human thing (trying to keep themselves and their families “safe” and “secure”)?

            You’re not going to convince ANYONE to help if all you do is point fingers and tell them, “You’re what’s wrong with this country, man!  Y’all are such sheep!  Kissing the boots of The Man and doing everything He asks!  TSK TSK!” All the while implying that you are somehow better because you are out there protesting (you’re not somehow better, just so you know).

            As someone who has protested in the past and who does a lot of volunteering for causes that are dear to my heart, I know how difficult it is.  So I commend you.  It’s awesome that you’re out there.

            But it’s really not just as easy as scolding those who are afraid to step out and do something about it, and telling them to just “get another job if you lose the one you have!” is beyond overly simplistic.

            It’s a complicated issue, and there are MANY reaons why people don’t go out there and fight. A lot of it has to do with the fact that the very people we are trying to fight have made it very difficult for us to do so (so why not put the blame on THEM, instead of the victims of the system? I really hate when people do that).

            You’re pointing fingers at people who are ON YOUR SIDE. That’s … kind of going to hurt your cause.

          9. I wasn’t scolding. It’s nothing personal against you. I really, really know life is hard. I mean, jeez, I have a large family and I teach part-time. I have no retirement, no medical, I’ll never own a new car, much less own my own home. This is the America of my reality. I wasn’t scolding, and I apologize for the retread statement ‘There are other jobs’. I’ve fought against that myself, with your argument. But your wanting people to be ‘educated’ rather than scolded; the fact that you took my comments as negative shows just how hard that can be. My ‘replace your job’ suggestion was overly simplistic; but the point remains that if the fear of unemployment kills an individual’s conscience (i.e., ‘has protested’), then we really are without hope for any substantive change in this country. Wage slavery will continue to proliferate and the corporate/political machine will have another pool of cheap labor willing to work for anything.
            Welcome to the New Era of Unbridled Capitalism.

          10. Here are some specifics of what you’re saying that I took issue with:

            Kiss the man where he tells you to kiss him so you can not have to move into an apartment, or make the world a better place so your children don’t have to kiss the man when your lips are too old. Right. Tough choice.

            Highly dismissive and, indeed, basically scolding people to do what is very human and natural for them to do (keep themselves and their family safe and secure).

            Well then I guess it’s all over but for following directions: “It puts the lotion in the bucket, . . . “

            There it is again.

            And you’re “There are other jobs” comment really is ridiculously overly simplistic and, again, dismissive.  It’s just like, when someone faces discrimination at their job but doesn’t say anything for fear of losing that job, people just scoff and say, “There are other jobs!”  It’s just … not a very bright comment, if I’m going to be honest.

            I completely understand where you’re coming from, but maybe if you stopped being so dismissive of people and the situation that they’ve been put in, they would start listening.

          11. Doubt it. I send the message, the message is interpreted, re-coded, resented, then used as an excuse. We have a perfect example of the ‘hurt feelings dismissal’ mindset in our running dialogue. Perhaps if I were G. Bush and offered people a one-time $300 check. Or, ever economical, maybe a half-pint of whiskey and a ride to the polls would raise folks’ opinion of my mean-spirited assault on the rationalization of their non-action. Way to go (or not!) fellow citizens!

        2. Their demands are being decided upon as we speak:

          I don’t blame you for being unaware, this is seldom talked about much to my vexation. Please let others know about this so they don’t get written off as “incoherent hippies”; they’re spending a lot of effort working on the back-end of a future movement, figuring out what kind of change we all actually want (screwed managers included). While these protests may be too idealistic right now, I feel they have the chance to evolve into the kind of movement we desperately need, at least I certainly hope.

        3. How about the middle managers go stand themselves up at the forefront of the movement?

          Oh, because if that was what the sort of things they did, they’d be senior managers, or arrested.

          Courage, not vision, is lacking.

  8. I understand the uncertainy some of you feel about who these people are.

    I mean, what normal person doesn’t hang out on a Wall Street balcony in a business suit, drinking at 5 p.m., and laugh at a protest they have no stake in? Hell, that about sums up all my lunch breaks, and I live in Pennsylvania.

  9. So you could commit vegetarian assault and give the police an excuse to wade in?

    Oh… right. Got it. You’re just saying that to sound cool. It’s easy to talk about how you wish you had had the means to commit a crime after the fact. But maybe I’ve misjudged you, and you’re one of those hardcore protestors that doesn’t mind going to jail.

    1. I’m not sure who you’re responding to, BUT, most protestors don’t want to go to jail, but most also realize it can be a consequence of protesting.  I took part in a protest, and there was a very real chance we could have been arrested — we planned accordingly.  We weren’t arrested (YAY!) and certainly didn’t want to be arrested, but we knew it could happen.

       (Disclaimer:  The only “crime” we committed was standing up during a Senate hearing and protesting John McCain’s stance on DADT; had the chair person wanted to have us arrested for trespassing or something similar, we could have been; but he was on our side and let us stand. So that was awesome.)

    2. Not that I am advocating violence, but the methods and means used by Wall Street to dupe the American public out of their cash (with the permissions and blessings of congress, the senate and white house) are far more egregious than the situations that have sparked a great many revolutions. There may well reach a point when the far right in America realizes they have been sold down the river by a pack of wolves and with all the guns in those hands, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Wall Street on that day.

  10. Saw the same kind of thing a few years back while protesting a speech by Karl Rove outside a semi-ritzy restaurant in Jackson, Michigan. The speech or luncheon or whatever was held on the third floor. A man in a third floor window taunted protesters below by fanning out a handful of money.

  11. I love how everyone derides protestors as hippies.  Hippies?  You mean those crazy kids from the sixties that were absolutely spot-on accurate about nearly everything (except maybe Free Love)?  The ones that thought the Vietnam War wasn’t worth fighting?  The ones that said the government and the police were not necessarily our best friends?

    Oh, I get it.  You mean modern hippies.  Yeah those guys are history’s worst monsters.

    1. Amen, Unca! The Right has worked tirelessly for the past three decades to destroy any truth to the philosophies the hippies followed, revising history so that it appears they stood for nothing but anarchy, drugs, and (thefaileddammit) free love. They were actually a response to the hollow promises of the conservatives of the time, and their opinions were validated time and again, not the least of which was during the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago (the hometown of 11-year-old me) when the police tried to show ’em who was boss, and instead gave the clearest picture of an early move toward Fascism which we see now in nearly full flower.

  12. We had a bunch of family-values protestors come to my former office once. They were upset that some of our products (less than 1000 made) had pictures from Playboy on them that were “tastefully” cropped to avoid any actual nudity.  The group of protestors numbered less than 100, and were well-padded with local media and family members. 
    What did we do?  We watched, laughed, and took pictures. Nobody taunted them, though. The story disappeared quickly. 

  13. Have we come so far from our parent’s generation that now we are a tractable, mild form of sidewalk marcher? We, the American public, have allowed the authorities to slowly erode our rights as individuals to walk, lie, march, hop, or otherwise use our public spaces as we see fit. Stay on the sidewalks or face arrests, batons, teargas, etc.? Don’t leave the ‘media/protest’ zone, lest you ‘interfere’ with another’s rights?
    Forgive me if I’m being obtuse, but isn’t protesting ALL ABOUT interference? Discontent? Publicly showing that events and circumstances have reached a point where the only course of redress is physical action?!
    I fear for this generation and subsequently, this country, if the best we can do is marshal several hundred ‘law-abiding’ chanters to let those in power know we’re fed up. Our next step: Marshmallow pelting!

  14. Does anyone know what the people on the balcony do for a living?

    They may just be innocent PI lawyers or advertising execs.

      1. I think it’s how they ACTED that bothers most people that I can tell.  But, that  thought might escape you, I don’t know.

  15. I posted about this yesterday in the boing boing comments here, dammut I should’ve submitted it too:


    Meanwhile, check this out… this is like something straight out of a bad 80’s movie.  Rich banksters above the demonstrators taunted them (the occupy wall st. protesters) while sipping champagne.  Pigs in zen.

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    – Mahatma Gandhi

  16.  Well, THAT was telling. Those people obviously feel just as secure as the people they are berating, which is why they’re berating them.

    To show everyone how secure they are, because they’re that secure!

  17. With so many reminded of a previous callousness, here is a timeless motto:


  18. Entertaining and all… but these are probably just workers from random some company that happened to be at the trading floor to open or close the market. 

  19. Dressing fancy, laughing and drinking Champagne (or even Prosecco or Cava) while 20′ above a protest is, in a way, a form of counter-protest.

  20. Remind me here, this is the Land of the Free, right?  I can see that Wall-Street looking types looking down (how psycho is that) upon the protesters looks bad, but until I have names to match faces, I’m not condemning anyone just because they wear a suit/tie.  

    Having siad that, these dumb f*cks ain’t doing themselves any favours, are they?  
    Oh, and is ‘Tomato’ a euphemism for RPGs, or are they still illegal in cities?

  21. I am sure we need to give these valuable Job Creators a break. I am sure that they, like everyone else, just work in the area and have nothing to do with Wall Street. That they are just humble workers of those large banks and they are just taking a moment to drown their sorrows over the bailouts that the banks have been given. Yep, just humble peons like the rest of us struggling…

  22. I actually like to wear suits and jackets. Also, pants that aren’t jeans. I guess this makes me look like the 1% at the top, but I’m not so sure of that. I’m just an eccentric in a very casual city. I wonder how often we are judging a book by its cover? I am very interested in why the “in suits” is almost always added when describing “greedy bastards”.

    1. Because suits, by definition of costume, are uniforms, varying only in personal decoration of standard items. I have a suit which I don’t like to wear because of that very reason.

    1. Americans who were born on second base have made a bad habit of acting like they hit doubles.

      If you can be born on second base, what the hell does it mean if you get to third base on a date?

    2. Indeed.  But I look at the folks in the photo above and think “they were born on second base but thought they hit a triple.”

  23. They obviously need a lower tax rate — look at how hard those “job creators” and “producers” are working to reduce unemployment. 

     In fact, I say we should subsidize them like we do Big Oil and pay them for simply living in our great country and exposing us to their superiority.

  24. I know that this is an issue that hits people pretty hard, but do all of these people really think that gathering and protesting is going to change anything? Nope. Those “suits” are going to walk right back into that building and continue financing just like they always have.  Some might say “Well, it’s better than just sitting there and doing nothing.” but is it really? Do you think that anybody in power is going to go “Y’know? These protesters are on to something. Cmon everyone! Lets change our ways!!”
    Im not making fun of the protesters, but if you really want to help people, then volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or just go to your local Soup Kitchen and help. Direct your energy to helping ONE person, because you aren’t going to change all of those Wall Street minds.
    Just my two cents:)

    1. Oh, Kevin. I’ll bet you could change dozens at a time with some of the tear gas used on protestors. But seriously, you’re right. The powers that be won’t voluntarily change, and the protests aren’t for the folks on Wall Street. They’re for the folks at home, the Other 99%, and their elected representatives. Location of protests, like sites on the Internet, are not fixed points.

  25. Sure, it’s all fun and games until the stock market really crashes and all those folks on the balcony are jumping out of their office windows a la “Black Tuesday” (1929).  On the other hand, I didn’t see a Mark Madoff effigy or a reference to him on any of the signs protestors were holding. Would it be helpful to remind those laughing on the balcony that Mark took a header from a rafter in his So-Ho loft at the end of a dog leash while his two-year old son slept nearby, not even a year ago? Mark, the “eldest son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff” couldn’t handle the toxic shame of it all. Who’s to say he’s not the last to dangle in shame? He was living in a $6 million apartment and “struggling to find work.” (Yeah, not much call for crooks on Wall St. since the place is eaten up with them already.) When you fall from millions you fall a looooooong way. Remember that the next time you’re laughing over your champagne. No one is immune to poverty – not even the rich.

  26. Nope, we sure don’t think that. We think something like, “with the sheer
    force of numbers, we will force the government to repeal the Bush tax
    cuts. We will demand that the loopholes for estate taxes be closed. We
    will overwhelm the government with so many examples of “real people”
    that the legislation that makes corporations into individuals will
    crumble. We will make ourselves so overwhelmingly visible that we can no
    longer be considered outliers or some daft but vocal minority. We will, in short, overcome!” Ideally.

  27. As someone said, this was an event space off of Wallstreet. Perhaps the “Society of Professional Hecklers and the Educational Pursuit of Mockery” were having their annual convention.

  28. I see it as a bit of a ‘well, screw you too’.

    The protestors have a point, but treating everyone in finance as a homogenous mass and taking a ‘burn them all’ attitude (as seen in so many comments here, for example) is not terribly helpful. It makes it clear that they don’t have a good understanding of the whole financial industry (no, reading an article by Matt Taibbi doesn’t make you an expert), and obscures the actual constructive reforms suggested behind a cloud of anger. It undermines the protests.

    People have a right to be angry, but if you focus on the anger it looks like there’s no rational point behind it.

    So, I know that at some level it’s going to have to be confrontational. I’m just surprised that anyone couldn’t see that if you tell thousands of people that they’re pure evil, then there might be half a dozen who think it’d be fun to act up the part.

  29. In response to those pretending not to understand the purpose of Occupy Wall Street, here’s a simple, and short list:

    1. Place a fee on all Wall Street transactions and tax capital gains the same as income
    2. End corporate personhood and overturn the flawed Citizens United decision
    3. Get big money out of politics through substantive campaign finance reform
    4. Jobs through investment in the public sector and infrastructure, not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations

    Feel free to copy and paste.

  30. I think Marie Antoinette and her friends used to similarly hang around on balconies and enjoy spectacles of the poor wondering where the next meal would come from.  This entire video reminded me of the setting or perhaps milieu of Soylent Green, or Rollerball (first one.)  Our sci fi dystopia self fulling prophecy is here.  

  31. A relatively positive profile on the Occupy Wall Street protests appeared in MarketWatch yesterday. The article stated:

    ” A counter protest was planned in which bankers and traders said they would douse the “dirty hippies” of Occupy Wall Street with champagne, to give them “a bath.” 

    I imagine this photo presents a small group of bankers and traders doing just what they said they’d do. Which is a bit shocking in itself. On the other hand, it seems only a handful of charming champagne-sippers actually followed through. And they didn’t exactly sacrifice their fizz by dousing anyone.

    1.  My first thought as well. I think these people would be drinking up there pretty much no matter what day it was. However, since there’s a huge protest and that’s not something yous see every day, this time they’re on the balcony with camera phones.

  32. I see it’s still popular to blame Wall Street for the Clinton administration’s failure to properly regulate the emerging derivatives market, and Greenspan’s miserable margin requirements policies. It’s really depressing to realize that people learned almost nothing from the 90’s bubble.

    1. The reality is that with or without regulation (preferably with) Wall Street is corrupt. The system itself is inherently flawed because of the dogma of greed supporting it. The stock market has twisted from it’s original purpose which was to support large scale production of PUBLIC works into a tool for generating income for the system while removing it from the people. No matter what the state of the economy, if you pay attention you will see the rich always get richer. They do so by taking YOUR ‘investments’ and using them to generate income for themselves. The best part of the whole scam is that they charge you fees for the privilege of using your money for their own investments.

  33. ” i really wish i’d brought a tomato.”

    See, that’s how people think differently. I wish he’d brought a 30.06.

    Hey, the Tea Party would’ve.  And nobody maced them.

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