Thursday, October 20, 2011

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) IV: Cincinnati Residents Take to the Streets

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is a burgeoning anti-corporate America movement. Americans perhaps inspired by similar movements in Europe have take to the streets. The movement began in New York and is spreading through the country as consumers express their malcontent with American corporate greed and corporate shenanigans by demonstrating in downtown business centers, the parks, and in the non-proverbial streets.

Residents of Cincinnati, Ohio are no different. Cincinnati is an interesting place. Cincinnati has arguably the largest concentration of corporate headquarters in the country including Procter & Gamble, Chiquita Banana, Kroger, and Duke Energy. Yet, very few people seem to be aware of that fact. The exquisite architecture of downtown corporate buildings give way to run down townhouses in Over-the-Rhine with very little transition. One block is gorgeous and the moment you cross Cathedral Parkway, the reality of the economic, income and ethnic divide is almost jarring.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of observing and then in an impromptu moment joining a group of young, and old; men and women; black and white, prosperous and perhaps a little less so; liberals and conservatives; religious and not so religious as they marched from Lytle Park to Findlay Market in Cincinnati. The energy was electrifying to quote John Travolta in the movie “Grease.” As we walked, we talked. What became apparent is that contrary to what certain "experts" are stating, the OWS participants are very knowledgeable. They may not know all the intricacies of corporate governance, federal regulation, or fiduciary obligations but they do know that something is very very wrong. I commend them for being visible, and for raising the concerns of the common man by taking it to the streets.

Lydie Nadia Cabrera Pierre-Louis


  1. Hey Professor Pierre-Louis,

    Your favorite student from the Spring semester of 2010 back from St. Thomas. I got a chance to check out an Occupy Wall St. rally in St. Louis (visiting my brother, I live in Chicago Loop now but have not checked that one out yet even though its nearby).

    Everyone there was engaging in intelligent discussion and political discourse. People were actually listening to one another despite the different backgrounds that you stated.

    I'm hoping the movement stays focused on the Fed., and does not become anti-all-corporations.

    I remember you discussing the Iceland story of the Federal Reserve which was great because to this day, that story has not gotten the attention it deserved.

    But the Fed is the ultimate corporation in this country. I saw Herman Cain was recently asked by someone in an audience who the shareholders were of the Fed (Cain used to have a position at the Kansas City Fed). His reply was something along the lines that all the Major Banks (I forget the number) are the shareholders.

    My question is, under the principles of corporate governance and ethics, to whom does the Fed owe its fiduciary duties to?

    That's the first thing Occupy Wall St. should demand to know.

    As a side note, I love that V for Vendetta has inspired much of these protests.

    - Steve Newbold

  2. I'd like to add that something just as important. I've researched the Fed to know that Central Banking is not going anywhere, and it can be traced back AT LEAST 500 years.

    One of 2 Goals needs to come out of this movement, both are extreme, but IMO, can be agreed on my all diverse groups that make up this country.

    (1) A Constitutional Amendment Prohibiting "Artificial Persons" (Corporations) from making donations (with language prohibiting loopholes such as money that can be traced to corporations in a manner where they are effectively the donor).

    Or, what I believe is better.

    (2) Direct Democracy a la Switzerland. A new Constitution that not only contains a bill of inalieanable rights, but also provides that a list of major decisions that must be voted on by the people. Wanna go to War? Vote on it. Wanna bail out a bank? Vote on it.

    - Steve Newbold

  3. Lydie,

    Great post. I'm happy to see my home state of Ohio getting in on the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The contrasts in Cincinnati are stark. I love how you draw these contrasts out. Go Ohio!

  4. Kenneth W (Memphis Law)October 23, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I also love the post. The more posts that I read regarding OWS, the more faith that I have that the momentum of the movement will sustain until something is done. However, I do understand that the bulk of the movement is taking place in northern states, and when the cold weather sets in and the movement disperses, what will happen? (This is assuming that they become affected by the cold.) I hope that the their accomplishments will not be overlooked or forgotten if the movement subsides due to the elements. They have worked hard to display hope for change and the mass numbers displaying their dissatisfaction and frustration should definitely open the eyes of the government as well as corporate giants.

  5. An article on OWS movement, skynet and zombies, which might be of your interest:

  6. Jessica Bradley (Memphis Law)November 11, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    "They may not know all the intricacies of corporate governance, federal regulation, or fiduciary obligations but they do know that something is very very wrong. I commend them for being visible, and for raising the concerns of the common man by taking it to the streets."

    The other day I observed a discussion between an Occupier and a skeptic of the movement. (Note: the conversation that follows happened last week and these are not exact quotes, and they have been dramatized in my head, but you will get the general idea):

    Skeptic: What, exactly, are people protesting? Occupier: There are a multitude of reasons that people are protesting, but in my opinion, it is probably mainly because of Citizens United.
    Skeptic: That's crazy, Citizens United is a 200 page opinion, I seriously doubt anyone down there has ever read Citizens United. This is what I don't get about the protest, why are people protesting something that they have no basic understanding of? Do they even know what they are protesting?

    The skeptic questioned the right of the Occupiers to protest something that he believed they did not fully understand. This would mean that an individual has no right to protest something if they do not have full knowledge of the intricacies of issue. However, to qualify the right of the Occupy protesters to participate in the movement based on whether they read Citizens United and understand independent expenditures is a wholly unfair way to look at the movement. Aside from the fact that most of the protesters have no legal education or access to Westlaw, the real underlying idea is that they are personally feeling the effects of the ruling. Civil rights protesters who did not or could not read Brown were not considered unqualified to protest--- they recognized oppression and decided to change it. Similarly, Occupy protesters feel oppressed by the current political atmosphere, and rightly so. While supporters of the Citizens United holding will quickly point out that independent expenditures do not allow for direct coordination between candidates and corporations. However, this view compeltely ignores the practical applications of the case, which have allowed, in effect, for corporations to donate directly to political campaigns often without disclosure (Super PAC's anyone?!).

    What protesters are rightly concerned about, whether or not they understand the legal language surrounding the issue, is the pervasive atmosphere of corporate influence in politics. Citizens United takes corporate influence too far, individuals protesting this movement should not be questioned based on the knowledge of the intricacies of corporate and campaign law.

  7. This article mentioned that occupiers in Cincinnati seemed to be "knowledgeable", at least to the extent that something is "wrong". Mainstream press, however, tends to characterize those involved in the Occupy movement as affluent hippies that aren't really affected by the economic recession but simply looking to make trouble. From my experience visiting several occupations, I agree with the article that occupiers generally seem interested in better understanding how the corporate and political spheres interact. I also believe that more folks, occupiers or not, are interested in digging deeper and becoming more knowledgeable as to "corporate governance, federal regulation" and other intricacies related to our financial system and business structures.

    Until recently, many people regarded economics and corporate law as being out of their reach; better left to corporate experts and politicians. For example, last decade, when politicians granted massive bailouts to corporate giants and financial institutions, most folks simply took the (highly fictional) justifications from politicians at face value. Both financial experts and politicians had served corporate interests, rather than seeking to develop a real solution for the economic downturn. In the aftermath of the bailouts, many people began asking questions and doing their own research.

    Unfortunately, corporate law can be a very challenging subject for someone without a background in legal studies and/or financial transactions. Experts in this field should determine better ways to educate the general public on both how we ended up in this recession and who is responsible for it.

    Many occupations offer workshops, or education seminars, on various subjects including civil rights, homelessness, women's rights, topics of local interest and so forth. These occupations might serve as effective forums for educational workshops on corporate law as well.

  8. Caroline (Memphis Law)November 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    This post shows the diversity in the group of occupy protesters that are coming together for a common cause. As stated, the protesters may not know the ins and out of all the nooks and crannies of the corporate world but they are knowledgeable about what they are protesting and firmly believe in their protest and what they are fighting for. The diversity aspect of the protesters in this post and previous posts that I have read is amazing. I love how people are putting religion, race, age, and sex aside and coming together for something they believe is very very wrong in our country.

  9. November 1, 2011

    Hi, Willa Boykin here requesting a brief moment of your time to introduce my business venture Epiphany-Love and what it has to offer for young adults in transition for an improve lifestyle. There’s an inspiration section of articles for spiritual growth, encouragement, hope and the dream is still alive. Also included are confidence in yourself and respect for other’s civil rights. Your family values are important and the elimination or to expose the intrusion of the negative voice in our lives, whose primary goal is to become the only voice.

    Occupy Wall Street is a constant reminder of an effective way for reaching our nation through the media and the voices of the oppressed. Education debt is now the leader over interest rate followed by credit cards. The interest rate on student lend’s should never exceed 5% related to an education. Your message is clear, organized, and non violence seems to be the only sensible method to protesting. The dream is not an option for the visionary and no restitution for greed. College student stress, better known as student lend’s, are not easily solved with prolong massive accumulated debt to pay back.

    With the onset of winter fast approaching it’s no set back for OWS, there’s plenty of time to think and rethink possibilities for 2012. You are now gaining support from organized labor and the American people. Greed is not our creed! We are indeed the 99% who care about our country’s future, maintenance on long term debt and secure jobs paying a decent wage to support a family.

    I too made my presence known by the participation of the civil rights movement in the sixties. There were two reasons why I based my decision to occupy in this movement. Children were being arrested in Alabama, some the same age as I, and a major leader of this movement would become the minister of the local church in Cincinnati where I attended.

    I am the author of two books, Wisdom for Intrinsic Fulfillment, and Sickle Cell Anemia Challenges: Courage To Face Adversity. Both are available in paperback and digital online e-books. Remember this is not our first test and the cost for democracy is not cheap. Your push for equality and the principles that made our country great are being tested again. These United States are a great nation to leave for our children and grandchildren. In God we trust for stewardship, leadership and relationships at home and abroad.

    Thanks again

    Willa Boykin

  10. Brigid W (Memphis Law)November 25, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    I think that Cole makes a really good point. While main stream media can be blamed for a great deal, I think they are not completely at fault for the fact that most Americans are completely clueless as to what caused the economic crisis and who is responsible, let alone how it could be fixed. While the media reports on the events, those watching the coverage are not able to fully understand and think critically about what the pundents are telling them. I am not suggesting that I have the answer to solve this problem of education. But our education system needs to be adapted to teach future generations about basic economics and possibly even corporate structure. As the times change, so should the things we consider basic/ necessary topics to be taught in schools.

  11. FalenC (Memphis Law)November 28, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    I could not agree with Brigid more. We cannot rely on media outlets to teach individuals about corporate structures and the "ins and outs" of them. It is not the agenda of media outlets to teach this. Even though there are a great deal of protestors (and those who are not protesting) who are knowledgeable and do know exactly why they are protesting, there are individuals who are protesting (and those who are not) who are not exactly sure what is going on. I feel that the lack of knowledge in regards to corporations and basic economics is part (if not one of the main) reasons we are facing the situation we are.

  12. Jessica - Memphis LawNovember 29, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    I love that you interacted with a group of people and could see that even though they may not know all of the details, this group is knowledgeable. I think these people are incredibly knowledgeable and they often don't get the respect they deserve. They are supplying our country with curiosity. They are encouraging people to figure out what all of the fuss is about and they are providing legitimate statistics to help the public see how real the concerns are. I am also glad that this movement is something that is bringing people of different backgrounds together. As you said, they do not know all of the intricacies, but a great thing about bringing people from different walks together is that they talk amongst themselves and can educate each other.

    I also agree that we are not taught early enough about finance and the different business structures. I believe my high school economics class was an optional elective and I college also makes these courses optional for the most part. I think that there should be required high school courses on business and economics to at least give students basic information because a lot of people don't receive further education.