WGA East Endorses Occupy Wall Street Protests (Exclusive)

The guild slams a "system that has diverted capital to a tiny handful of people," as demonstrations spread to L.A. and elsewhere.

The WGA East has come out swinging in support of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests, with union executive director Lowell Petersen praising protesters who have “call(ed) out the people and institutions that created the current crisis -- that is, the financial system that has diverted capital from productive enterprise into speculation that bestows huge paychecks on a tiny handful of people.”

Petersen’s comments came in an exclusive statement to The Hollywood Reporter. He added that “the WGAE is encouraged by the creativity and openness of the protests.”

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A guild spokesperson also told THR that the WGAE will be emailing its members on Monday about Occupy Wall Street’s labor solidarity events planned for Wednesday. The protests have been endorsed by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and various units of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), SEIU, United Federation of Teachers, Transport Workers Union, United Steelworkers, Transit Workers Union and Workers United.

None of the other entertainment unions and guilds contacted by THR had any comment.

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The New York protests, now in their third week, have begun to gain media attention, with hundreds of arrests Saturday as protesters surged across the Brooklyn bridge. Earlier in the week, director Michael Moore and actress Susan Sarandon made appearances at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, where Occupy Wall Street in encamped.

Although protesters cite a variety of issues, the core thrust has been unemployment, income inequality, health care, and dramatic disparities of wealth that have grown larger in recent years.

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In Los Angeles, several hundred protesters marched Saturday from Pershing Square to City Hall under the rubric Occupy Los Angeles, carrying signs that ranged from “Too Big to Jail” and “Where’s my Bailout?” to “I Won’t Believe Corporations Are People Until Texas Executes One!”

The latter’s an acidic reference to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s comment in August that “corporations are people.”

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Apparently unknown to protesters, L.A. law enforcement officials stationed dozens of police and fire vehicles blocks away, according to a THR source who observed the vehicles with their emergency lights spinning in the night at around 8 p.m. However, the equipment was never deployed, and no confrontation or arrests ensued.

Several hundred protesters remain encamped Sunday around City Hall, the L.A. Times reports, and another march is planned for Monday. In Chicago, which was also the site of protests Saturday, the Wall Street Journal noted in passing that the local organization’s press liaison is an actor, Micah Philbrook. Small groups of protesters are coalescing in other cities in the U.S. and internationally, with efforts coordinated online via Facebook, Twitter and an unofficial hub.

Email: jhandel@att.net
Twitter: @jhandel