Although the occupy Wall Street movement intends to stand up for small business owner like New York’s street vendors, those who sell food around Zucotti Park have been less than understanding of the protestor’s goals. Street vendors have recently complained that they have been losing all their business due to the influx of protestors, repelling their regular crowds and not purchases themselves.
The street vendors are mostly Arab and Egyptian, and though the protests have been compared to the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square, the vendors fail to see the similarities between events. While the protestors have exhibited a certain level of destitution, begging for coffee and hunting for money, streets vendors have failed to see the parallels between the Wall Street protests and uprisings in Third World countries. Egyptian street vendor Zizi Elnagouri said, “We were fighting for a big, big thing: for life, to eat, against a giant snake that would kill us. Here, they’re not fighting to eat, say, regular bread, but … special bagels or something.”
The feelings of disconnect between street vendors and protestors extends to brick and mortar business owner as well. Many have reported lower sales as customers are driven away by the protestors, as well as having issues with protestors damaging their bathrooms. For some vendors closely surrounded by protestors it is difficult to move their carts in and out of the park, resulting in all night vigils guarding their carts in Zucotti Park.
Though many street vendors sympathize with the goals of the Wall Street protests, they cannot help but hope that they come to an end soon. A falafel vendor named John from Alexandria had this to say, “This is terrible business. I hope they get the money they’re protesting for, then they can give me some.”
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