Banks Feeding NYPD Surveillance Footage Ahead of ‘May Day’ Protests

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    San Francisco police stand prepared to make arrests inside a Bank of America branch office after protestors stormed in Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 in the financial district of San Francisco. Police are ramping up security in and around banks in preparation for the Occupy movement's May Day protests. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

    San Francisco police stand prepared to make arrests inside a Bank of America branch office after protestors stormed in Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2011 in the financial district of San Francisco. Police are ramping up security in and around banks in preparation for the Occupy movement's May Day protests. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)


    (MintPress) – It is something that America’s largest banks have been anticipating and planning for since January: The reinvigoration of the Occupy movement on May 1. Protesters who identify with the Occupy Wall Street movement are planning marches across the globe today that target the world’s largest banks and what they call an abuse of power and wealth. In response, banks are gathering and sharing intelligence with authorities to prepare security measures and protest sites.

    And in a few weeks, many banks will see a second wave of demonstrations in response to the NATO Summit in the host city of Chicago, where 10,000-50,000 protesters and activists are estimated to participate.

    Brian McNary, director of global risk at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, said banks are sharing information collected with surveillance cameras, robots and officers on bank grounds with police to provide real-time video streams and complete views of bank property. This provides police departments with security footage they would not have complete access to with a limited number of department-owned surveillance equipment.

    The video footage is aggregated in a private downtown Manhattan center.

    Occupy Wall Street is touting “99 Pickets,” a day-long demonstration in New York City that organizes picketing lines in solidarity with workers who are affected by new labor rules and policies.

    “This is an opportunity to fight back against austerity, union busting, the attacks on immigrant rights and the entire system of the 1% rule with a tactic and framework that is in solidarity with the mayday call to action,” according to the group’s website. “The recent General Strikes in Spain and Greece show us that when we all fight back together, against austerity we are stronger. The picket line is a tactic with a rich history. It can be diverse and does not have to be symbolic.”

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, protesters received a permit from New York authorities to march from Union Square to lower Manhattan, a path that would put them in comfy quarters with high-profile banking institutions. Concern among financial institutions also lies with what protest organizers in New York are calling a “radical after-party” at a financial institution that has yet to be disclosed.

    A precursor to the “after-party” may be on display when political activist and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello plays in the afternoon. Morello has been an avid supporter of the Occupy movement and has past run-ins with police while protesting. In 2006, Morello was arrested along with 400 other protesters while demonstrating in Los Angeles to raise awareness for immigrant hotel workers’ rights. Morello said he was proud of his work and continues to back street demonstrations today.

    “This is how things have changed, is by people on the lower rungs of society standing up,” Morello said. “People have been arrested in this country for a woman’s right to vote. People have been arrested in this country for desegregated lunch counters. Those things didn’t come about because of the wisdom of presidents — they came about because of average ordinary working people standing up for their rights.

    In response, at least one bank is preparing for the worst. Deutsche Bank AG closed its public atrium on Wall St. where protesters have traditionally congregated in the past.

    It’s also not the first time banks and financial institutions have worked with authorities to ensure security measures. In 2009, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged the existence of partnerships with financial firms that provide the force with “access to hundreds of private security cameras.”

     

    Handling picketers

    While working with the police, banks have been reassured that authorities have the capacity to deal with the picketers. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been particularly active in detaining protesters in New York City since the Occupy movement began last fall. The NYPD has been responsible for around 2,100 detentions of Occupy protesters, Bloomberg reported.

    Paul Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman, said the department’s experience with demonstrations has given them better insight on how to deal with “May Day.”

    “We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” Browne said.

    But the department’s approach to handing the protests has come under scrutiny. Claims of police brutality and unwarranted raids of Occupy camps have marred the relationship between the department and protesters.

    In March, Occupy protesters accused the NYPD of assaulting a member of the movement and neglecting to help when a demonstrator, Cecily McMillan, suffered a seizure after being handcuffed. NYPD claimed the McMillan’s rough treatment was warranted after they claim she walked up to an officer and elbowed them in the eye. The claim has been unfounded in court and the Mass Defense Coordination Committee (MDCC) of New York City called for an independent investigation of the NYPD’s handling of protesters, saying the practices were “repressive, hostile and violent.”

    The department also came under media criticism after breaking up a sleep-in protest despite what Occupy calls a clear ruling allowing the group to sleep on the sidewalk in front of the New York Stock Exchange. The New York Times reported that an April incident saw police threaten to arrest anyone in the movement who was sitting or lying down on the sidewalk, despite a 2000 ruling in the city that allows for “public sleeping as a means of symbolic expression.”

     

    Mission of the protesters

    Police and banks face a dedicated group that has been planning today’s event since the winter months when the Occupy movement slowed down. While the “May Day” movement tackles big banks, immigration, foreclosure and an economy that they say is dominated by the richest one percent, it also is a sociological phenomenon that creates a holiday allowing people to “do something they love.”

    The group advocates no school or work for the day, and touts it as a holiday where there is no pressure to buy something or face the obligation of being a consumer for a preconceived day.

    “On May 1st, 2012, we are creating a new kind of holiday – A People’s Holiday – one that’s not just another flavor of consumerism, but which invites us to image a world beyond consumerism,” the group’s official “May Day” site reads.

    The movement will also stick with its life-blood, urging everyone to march for economic justice while demanding large corporations pay taxes at a fair rate.


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