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Tory Giardina

Occupy Wall Street

We continue our spotlight on the current protest movement by speaking to Occupy protesters in New York

Over two months ago the seeds of the global Occupy movement took root in Liberty Square, aka Zuccotti Park, in the heart of New York’s Wall Street financial district. What started out as a small demonstration initiated by Adbusters has since spread to over 900 cities, building on global anger with bank bailouts and economic inequality. Two weeks ago, the NYPD, under orders from NYC’s mayor Michael Bloomberg, brutally evicted the Occupy Wall Street camp at Zuccotti Park - police officers forcibly removed protesters in the middle of the night, trashed personal belongings (despite promising otherwise) and destroyed the camp’s library. Although protesters have reoccupied the park, new regulations prevent them from camping overnight, so they can only gather there during the day.

As part of Dazed’s upcoming January 2012 Survival Guide, we went to Zuccotti Park to ask protesters about money – does it lie at the root of our problems and can we replace it? We also asked activists what they’d like their ideal future to look like and why they’ve joined the Occupy movement.

Tory Giardina, 25, Medical Student

DD: Why are you  here?
Tory Giardina: We’re here because we’re young and angry. I’m here because I’m a human being and because I want what everybody else wants, some sense of justice and fairness in the world. Which is really broad I know, that’s what everybody’s excusing us of.

DD: Is money is the route of all evil?
Tory Giardina: Money is just a thing. The way people use it is evil.

DD: What does  your ideal future look like?
Tory Giardina: I work in medicine, so I’d like to see everybody have access to equal healthcare, not just a county clinic for people who are uninsured.


Marissa Pieratt, 18, Nanny

Dazed Digital: Why are you here?
Marissa Pieratt:
I’m here because I support the cause, and I think everybody under the sun should be here, this affects them all.

DD: Is money the route of all evil?
Marissa Pieratt: I think so. That’s what corporation are sacrificing their humanity for, to make a dollar. That greed is the root of all evil.

DD: What should people be spending their money on?
Marissa Pieratt: Things that help them thrive in this world, not material things that don’t matter.

DD: What does your ideal future look like?
Marissa Pieratt: I want to see people retiring earlier than 72. I want to see people working so they can not just survive, but thrive. A society where the 1% doesn’t own the rest of us.


Tim Kreider, 44, Writer

DD: Why are you here?
Tim Kreider: It feels like we’re all part of something important and we’re in it together, even though no one knows what that is yet. People are starting to ask fundamental questions like: ‘Is capitalism working out all that well?’. That was heretical two weeks ago and now you see that discussion in the New York Times. We’re here because writing to your congressmen turns out not do anything.

DD: Do you think we can replace money?
Tim Kreider: Capitalism works fine for selling and inventing consumer doodads. But it offers itself as a solution to every single human need, like education, healthcare and governance, and it doesn’t do very well at those things at all. I’m a pragmatist, I think we should do whatever works, and capitalism is not working, in fact it’s ruining everything.

DD: Is money the root of all evil?
Tim Kreider: No. But it certainly doesn’t make people happy. Capitalism forces people to behave worse than they really are. I’d like to see a mix of capitalism, socialism, democracy, whatever system turns out to make people happy.

DD: What should people be spending their money on?
Tim Kreider: I feel like Miss America, I know the correct answer to that question would be giving it to the poor. I tend to spend my money on having fun. I’m not calling myself a Christian. I’m a bad person.


Steven Brust, 55, Novelist

DD: Why are you  here?
Steven Brust: I’m pretty disgusted with what the banks have done, how can you not be, right? Whether this turns into anything that accomplished anything, I don’t know. These people have nothing in common but a hatred of Wall St. That’s a good start, but where does that get you? But this might be turning this into something that could make some change, I’ve been wrong before.

DD: What did you spend your last dollar on?
Steven Brust: I’m ashamed of this, a vanilla latte.

DD: What do you think people should be spending their money on?
Steven Brust: Who am I to tell people what to spend their money on? I just bought a stupid coffee drink. I’m struggling a little, but by the standards of the world, I’m incredibly well-to-do. Most people are spending their money on trying to get by.

DD: Do you think we can replace money?
Steven Brust: That’s a huge, huge question. The straight-forward answer: yes, of course we can. But right now you have production for profit, rather than for use. Changing that would, in the long run, lead to money being pointless and disappearing.

DD: What does your ideal future look like?
Steven Brust: It looks like cooperation, it looks like producing what we can for everyone.


Debbie Schaffer, 77, Retired (College Administration) 

DD: Why are you here?
Debbie Schaffer:
I think it’s something wonderful that’s happening, I just wanted to be part of it, If only to be a statistic, I want to show my support.

DD: What does your sign mean?
Debbie Schaffer: It’s very hard for people to retire now, the government is making it more difficult to get social security. I’m retired, I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s scary, people are afraid they may have to work forever, they might have to work until they drop.

DD: What should people be spending their money on?
Debbie Schaffer: I’m not the money police, but I think people have more money than they can spend. It seems impossible to say ‘Enough! I have enough’.

DD: What does your ideal future look like?
Debbie Schaffer:
A future of bread and roses for everyone.

Photography by Gunnar Larson