(Bloomberg News) Occupy Wall Street, the global movement against inequality that ignited in Manhattan last year, will mark its first anniversary by trying to block traffic in the financial district and encircle the New York Stock Exchange.
Planning for the Sept. 17 protest, dubbed S17, follows months of internal debate and flagging interest, according to interviews with organizers. The morning action may include attempts to make citizens' arrests of bankers, and some activists intend to bring handcuffs, they said.
"We are here to bring you to justice," said Sean McKeown, a 32-year-old chemist and New York University graduate who's helping organize the demonstration. "We're offering you the chance to repent for your sins."
Protests against income disparity, bank greed and corporate abuse sprouted from San Francisco to Hong Kong after demonstrators established an encampment in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park last September. Police ousted them in November, and governments around the world used concussion grenades, gas, riot gear, pepper spray and arrests to disband camps and protests.
Organizers said there has been more fatigue than fresh thinking this year. Occupy's New York City General Assembly, which oversaw planning by consensus, ceased functioning in April because of infighting, ineffectiveness and low turnout, according to organizers and minutes of meetings. The group's funds were frozen to preserve money for bail, ending most cash distributions, they said.
"Movements calcify, and it's difficult to maintain the vigor and camaraderie," said Travis Mushett, 26, a novelist who helped organize an Occupy reading group. He was one of six who used the word "burnout" to describe the recent mood.
The cascade of banking scandals since May 1, the last time Occupy organized major protests, reads like a roll call of corporate greed and dishonesty. Regulators found that Barclays Plc systematically attempted to rig global interest rates; Standard Chartered Plc faces federal inquiries over claims it funneled Iranian money through the U.S.; Senate investigators said HSBC Holdings Plc helped drug lords launder funds; and JPMorgan Chase & Co. lost at least $5.8 billion on trades.
"It really hasn't sparked the same outrage," said Akshat Tewary, an employment attorney who co-wrote a 325-page comment letter in February on bank regulation with the group Occupy the SEC. "It's harder to maintain that kind of momentum."
Adbusters, the Vancouver-based magazine that put out the call for last September's Wall Street occupation, wrote in a June post on its Occupy Web site of "ossification that could be fatal to our young spiritual insurrection unless we leap over it right now."
S17 organizers said at meetings in New York this month that they're planning for teams of protesters to avoid police on Sept. 17 by circulating around intersections, holding spaces long enough to give out food or offer free medical care.