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Friday, October 21, 2011

Yippies on Wall Street

One more Occupy Wall Street-related link, this time to my Research magazine article of April 2008 on "The Go-Go Sixties." Here is a sidebar "Yippies on Wall Street":
On August 24, 1967, a group of about a dozen young men and women arrived at the New York Stock Exchange. They were Yippies, or members of the Youth International Party. They had called ahead and asked for a tour, but their real purpose was to perform some "political theater," their style of creatively obnoxious protest and confrontation.
The group included Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, radical activists who would become increasingly well-known as the decade wore on. The guards were wary of the scruffy visitors, but allowed them into the visitors' gallery with a warning that no demonstrations would be allowed.
But the Yippies, once they were overlooking the trading floor, launched into loud speechifying against capitalism and the Vietnam War. There was some applause from down below, by floor traders who were sympathetic or just amused. Then the Yippies, announcing the "death of greed," floated some dollar bills down to the floor. How much money was involved is uncertain, but there was a brief commotion until trading resumed.
According to Vincent J. Cannato in his 2001 book The Ungovernable City, the administration of liberal Republican Mayor John Lindsay was quietly providing subsidies to the Yippies around this time. So it's possible those were taxpayer dollars being dropped to the floor.
The Yippies progressed to other stunts, including "levitating the Pentagon" and rioting at the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago. As it happened, though, they did not maintain their uniformly hostile approach to capitalism. By the 1980s, Rubin had become a businessman and entrepreneur, and he even worked for a while at the brokerage firm of John Muir & Company.
 Whole article here.

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