| NEW YORK, Sept 17
NEW YORK, Sept 17 Two years after getting its
start in a downtown Manhattan park, Occupy Wall Street, the
populist movement protesting economic inequality, marked its
second anniversary on Tuesday with a protest near the New York
Stock Exchange and a planned march near the United Nations.
The group, which inspired dozens of spin-offs around the
world with its "we are the 99 percent" slogan but drew criticism
for its unclear goals, has focused Tuesday's events on a new
objective: calling for a small tax on Wall Street financial
transactions, organizers said.
Dubbed the "Robin Hood Tax," the legislation would impose a
levy of 0.5 percent on Wall Street trades. The money collected
would be earmarked for different funds and non-profit
organizations and in turn distributed to schools, hospitals and
local governments, according to Occupy organizers and proponents
of the legislation.
Andrew Smith, an Occupy organizer, said similar Robin Hood
tax laws have been imposed in 11 euro zone countries, including
Germany and France.
"This kind of tax stream has globally become a very accepted
form of revenue generation," he said.
Three people were arrested on Tuesday for wearing masks at
the downtown rally, which drew a crowd of about 100 activists, a
far cry from the thousands the group had in its heyday.
Organizers expected about 1,000 people later in the day to
assemble for a rally front of the United Nations, with plans to
march to the headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co and the
Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York City's mass transit
The rallies come two years after Occupy demonstrators first
set up camp in Zuccotti Park near the NYSE to call for changes
in how financial institutions are regulated. The movement
quickly spread to cities around the world and spinoff "Occupy"
groups have been set up to address everything from disaster
relief to human rights.
The Occupy Wall Street camp in New York City was finally
evicted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November 2011.
In focusing attention on the "Robin Hood Tax," Occupy
organizers also hope to counter criticism that the Occupy Wall
Street movement was too broad and lacked a clear goal.
"Occupy broke the crust in giving people broad narratives
about income disparity," Smith said. "Now people want answers
and I think the Robin Hood Tax is an answer."
Critics of the tax say the law it would decrease the volume
of financial transactions on Wall Street, prompting companies to
move overseas, taking jobs and money with them.
With the passage of a financial transaction tax "thousands
of high-paying jobs would leave the U.S., sharply reducing
employment at hundreds of non-financial companies that depend on
these customers," the conservative Heritage Foundation said in a
report released earlier this year.