Occupy Wall Street wants to team up with the investment industry's latest antihero, ex-Goldman Sachs executive director Greg Smith.
The protest group, which famously took over Zuccotti Park near Wall Street last September and drew renewed attention to the causes and affects of the financial crisis, is celebrating its six-month anniversary tomorrow, which is also St. Patrick's Day, in lower Manhattan.
A march will begin at 1:00 p.m. at Zuccotti Park and wind its way to the famous Charging Bull statue in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street. And Occupy Wall Street wants Mr. Smith to appear at the rally, said Aaron Black, 38, a self-described organizer and activist for Occupy Wall Street. “I would love to see him get involved with Occupy Wall Street,” Mr. Black said.
Mr. Smith would make quite a splash if he did appear at the front of an Occupy Wall Street march. On Wednesday, he ignited a debate about how Wall Street treats its clients when he resigned from The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and then published an editorial in the New York Times that was a scathing assessment of the firm's culture.
“I can honestly say that the environment [at Goldman Sachs] now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it,” wrote Mr. Smith, who had worked at the firm for almost 12 years and was most recently based in London. “It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off.”
Goldman's CEO and president, Lloyd C. Blankfein and Gary Cohn, respectively, responded to the editorial in a letter to employees. “We were disappointed to read the assertions made by this individual that do not reflect our values, our culture and how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients,” the letter stated.
Having Mr. Smith aboard Occupy Wall Street to kick off the celebrations would underscore the group's belief that Wall Street is an ethical mess, Mr. Black said.
“What he basically said in the Times was that this whole thing, Wall Street, is a mess, and that, coming from an executive at Goldman Sachs, is huge,” Mr. Black said. “He's a hero.”
One problem in bringing Mr. Smith and Occupy Wall Street is that the protest group does not know how to get in touch with Mr. Smith, Mr. Black said. “We don't know how to reach him,” Mr. Black said. “We would love him to come down celebrate with us and speak.”
Mr. Smith is expected to be in town this weekend. According to The New York Times, people who had spoken with him said that “he was flying back to New York on Wednesday night to see his family and friends.”