"Occupy" protesters grapple with money issues
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Bob Moon: For more than a month, Occupy Wall Street protesters have railed against the monied 1 percent. Well now, they have money of their own, thanks to a flood of donations. And that creates a challenge for a movement that’s determined to be leaderless: Who controls the money and how? We’ve already seen one mishap in Portland, where up to $20,000 in donations went missing. How about in New York?
Marketplace’s Tracey Samuelson follows the money.
Tracey Samuelson: Pete Dutro is at a bank near Zuccotti Park, depositing checks into Occupy Wall Street’s official account. They’re mostly for small amounts — $20 — and some include notes.
Pete Dutro: To Occupy Wall Street folks, thank you for speaking out for us. Best, Zoe.
Dutro is one of six volunteers on the finance committee. In just over a month, Occupy Wall Street has received well over $400,000 in donations. The protest typically spends about $2,000 to 3,000 a day, mostly on food.
But with so much money coming in finance committee member Darrell Prince says there’s been a lot of attention from fellow protesters and outsiders.
Darrell Prince: So yeah, there’s definitely a lot of people watching. Probably rightfully so.
After all, Prince says Occupy Wall Street is about economic injustice, so everybody gets a say. Any expense over $100 a day has to go before the whole group — which means a shocking amount of a bureaucracy.
Prince: You get the form from finance, then you get your working group consensus on it, then you send your working group representative to finance with your proposal, then you take it to the facilitation working group, then you take it to general assembly.
And that General Assembly is slow. It’s haggled over purchases like walkie-talkies and storage bins. Last night, the assembly voted to send $20,000 to fellow protesters in Oakland. And they’re working to streamline the process. Finance member Prince tried to replace the petty cash box with plastic, but it backfired.
Prince: They sent us debit cards for each of the subcommittees with my name on all of them.
Sometimes, money just wants a leader.
In New York, I’m Tracey Samuelson for Marketplace.