Biometric Door Locks and Bulletproof Windows: How Occupy Wall Street Is Scaring the Heck out of the 1%
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An elderly woman, according to art blog Gallerist, said of the action “I was here at the last auction. They were activists. Young activists. They kept standing up. It was so scary. They couldn’t get them.”
Apparently young activists standing up and calling “Shame on the 1 percent!” is scary enough for Sotheby's to increase its security.
The New York occupiers followed Governor Andrew Cuomo to a party hosted by the Huffington Post, and community groups working in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street hosted a tour of millionaires' homes in the city.
But it seems laughable that protesters are actually planning a physical assault on the homes, offices and persons of the 1 percent. After all, they would not only have to contend with the NYPD, but with private security of all types—and the New York Times has reported that security is on the rise.
“'We expect to more than double our revenue in New York this year,' said Paul M. Viollis, a co-founder of Risk Control Strategies, a firm that protects some of the top executives on Wall Street.
“Another company, Insite Security, has gotten dozens of calls since the protests began and expects to increase its revenue at least 40 percent this year, according to Christopher Falkenberg, its chief executive.”
Companies that will replace the 1%'s windows with bulletproof glass, security firms that create a "risk profile" and install a variety of state-of-the-art gadgets like biometric door locks, infrared cameras that work in total darkness and in-ground motion sensors are all seeing their business--and profits--go up, and the Times notes also that devices that detect surveillance equipment are also moving, in part sold to hedge-funders who worry they might be under investigation.
I wrote this summer about the boom in private security caused by the fear of the 1% of violence from below, of possible theft and attacks on their wealth, even before the U.S. had seen much in the way of uprising. Now that a movement has sprung up and spread at nearly the speed of the Internet, bankers and the rest of the wealthy appear to have kicked their fear into overdrive. The Times reports that “One executive contacted Insite requesting help planning his escape from the United States in the event the federal government was overthrown.”
The investment in private security could imply that the wealthy simply don't trust the police. After all, police and firefighters' unions marched with the working class in Wisconsin and Ohio earlier this year when union rights came under attack in those states. But the line between private security and public police departments, which have served in large part to protect the interests of the elite, is blurred, especially in New York, with paid detail police and what Pam Martens reports is a $150 million taxpayer-funded surveillance center in Lower Manhattan, where Wall Street employees sit alongside NYPD, MTA, and Port Authority police and track the comings and goings in the financial district.
Protesters for the most part are very aware of the need to not unnecessarily fight with the cops--even in Oakland, where there's a long, unpleasant history between protesters and police and a tradition of police brutality, occupiers have argued "Police are not the enemy!", though it's hard to make that point when a 24-year-old Iraq veteran, Scott Olsen, is in critical condition after the clash with police. Occupiers have noted that not all police are unsympathetic to their cause.
The Hacker Threat and the Bottom Line
Sam Biddle at Gizmodo noted that the biggest threat to the 1 percent, especially from a determinedly nonviolent movement like Occupy Wall Street, is likely to come from a different source: hackers.