Banks Working with Police to ‘Identify, Map and Track’ Occupy Protesters

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Common Dreams

Banks Working with Police to ‘Identify, Map and Track’ Occupy Protesters

by
Common Dreams staff

The nation’s largest financial institutions are preparing for the upcoming Occupy Wall Street’s May 1st demonstrations by working together and with police, according to Bloomberg News.

The banks from America and overseas are working to “identify, map and track” protesters.

Among 99 protest targets in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday are JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America offices, said Marisa Holmes, a member of Occupy's May Day planning committee. "Our goal is to kick off the spring offensive and go directly to where the financial elite play and plan," she said.

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Bloomberg News reports:

The world's biggest banks are working with one another and police to gather intelligence as protesters try to rejuvenate the Occupy Wall Street movement with May demonstrations, industry security consultants said.

Among 99 protest targets in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday are JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America offices, said Marisa Holmes, a member of Occupy's May Day planning committee.

Events are scheduled in more than 115 cities, including an effort to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, where Wells Fargo investors relied on police to get past protests at their annual meeting this week.

"Our goal is to kick off the spring offensive and go directly to where the financial elite play and plan," she said.

After evictions and arrests from Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to London that began last year, the movement against income inequality and corporate abuse will regain strength, said Brian McNary, director of global risk at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations.

He works with international financial firms to "identify, map and track" protesters across social media and at their assemblies, he said. The companies gather data "carefully and methodically" to prevent business disruptions.

Banks are preparing for Occupy demonstrations at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Chicago summit on May 20 and 21 by sharing information from video surveillance, robots and officers in buildings, giving "a real-time, 360-degree" view, said McNary, who works on the project.

Banks cooperating on surveillance are like elk fending off wolves in Yellowstone National Park, he said. While other animals try in vain to sprint away alone, elk survive attacks by forming a ring together, he said.

Planning for Tuesday in New York began in January in a fourth-floor work space at 16 Beaver St., about two blocks from Wall Street, according to Holmes. The date serves as an international labor day, commemorating a deadly 1886 clash between police and workers in Chicago's Haymarket Square.

The midtown demonstrations will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a march from Bryant Park to Union Square and a 4 p.m. rally there, according to an online schedule.

Protesters, including labor unions and community groups, have a permit to march from Union Square to lower Manhattan, according to police. Goldman Sachs' headquarters is among financial-district picketing options, Holmes said.

Banks are bracing. Deutsche Bank AG is closing the public atrium of its U.S. headquarters at 60 Wall St., which protesters have used for meetings, Holmes said. Duncan King, a bank spokesman, declined to comment.

Banks have a history of coordinating security with city authorities. At a 2009 U.S. Senate hearing, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly described a partnership with financial-district firms that gives his department "access to hundreds of private security cameras."

Footage is monitored in a downtown Manhattan center, he said. A 2005 letter Kelly wrote to Edward Forst, then chief administrative officer at Goldman Sachs, shows it was among firms getting space in the facility.

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