All photos by Allison Kilkenny
On the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, hundreds of protesters gathered in Zuccotti Park to celebrate the group’s history, and also to lend solidarity to movements like that of the fast food workers who have been striking in cities all across the country.
In the morning, activists gathered in front of a McDonald’s down the block from Zuccotti in support of fast food workers, and to demand that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.
Tony, an activist, said he attended the action because “we need work, we need jobs, we need better minimum wage for everyone.”
“No one can survive on $7.25,” protesters chanted outside the building, as NYPD officers flanked the McDonald’s entrance.
Police guard the McDonald’s entrance
“We are uniting with Fast Food Forward and calling for $15 (or more) and the workers’ rights to form a union without interference because we believe jobs should pay workers enough to afford food, clothing, and rent,” Occupy declared in a written statement. “Lifting wages will help bring more economic justice to workers and improve their quality of life and living standards. This will be the beginning of an independent and grass roots campaign to bring awareness to the plight of fast food and low wage workers in a city where nearly half of its residents live near or below poverty.”
Some protesters expressed frustration with organized labor’s lack of interest in supporting striking fast food workers. Activist Joshua Stephens said organizers couldn’t get the AFL-CIO to call them back regarding the fast food action, but the labor group did retweet updates from the event.
Caleb Maupin, an International Action Center organizer, was arrested during a couple Occupy Wall Street protests and participated in the original General Assemblies.
“I’m here because there’s a small group of very wealthy people who own the banks, the factories, the natural resources, and they have all the power,” said Maupin. “They have the government in their hands and we need to oppose that. We are the 99 percent. We sell our labor to survive. Right now, people desperately need jobs, they need employment.”
Maupin expressed concern over the US government’s priorities.
“The government is talking about another war, against Syria. We need to stand up for working people against the super-rich,” he said.
He added that he believes Occupy has established a lasting legacy and continues to serve as inspiration for people everywhere.
“People all across the country, and all across the world, saw what Occupy was doing, and and were inspired by it, and got the idea that they wanted to do something,” he said, adding that he believes resistance to economic injustice is growing, though the protests might not always occur under the Occupy banner.