Mitt Romney was in town this morning for a fund-raiser at the Waldorf Astoria, and a crowd of about 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters, activists, and union members were there to welcome him.
The Romney event was hosted by Gristede’s billionaire John Catsimitidis, and guests were encouraged to donate $1,000 to $2,500 per person.
Those kinds of numbers, along with Romney’s own wealth, made natural targets for protesters, some of whom dressed up as defiant 1-percenters, while others donned empty-eyed Romney masks and grim-reaper robes, calling Romney a “job-cremator.”
“An event like this calls attention to how campaign finance works,” said Liesbeth Rapp, a long-time Occupy protester. “This is what someone has to do to get enough money to run for president, even if they already have more money than God.”
Aaron Black, one of the organizers of today’s event, gave a short speech outlining the flood of corporate money that has flowed into electoral politics since the 2010 Citizens United decision paved the way for unlimited corporate donations and super-PACS.
“It’s just going to get worse and worse until people get together to do something dramatic to stop it,” Black repeated.
Occupy Wall Street has generally eschewed big street demonstrations over the past several months, but through the winter dedicated occupiers promised the movement would come roaring back to form once the weather improved. Today, one protester’s backpack was marked with the words “Occupy American Spring.”
It’s difficult to gauge how much momentum the movement will be able to bring to bear this spring. Much of that anticipation is pegged to May 1st, when Occupy groups across the country are planning a wide range of actions and calling for a general strike.
But at several recent Occupy Wall Street actions — last month’s Bank of America protest and today’s Romney picket — the numbers have been underwhelming, drawing a few hundred people at most.
Protesters today set up a picket line, but didn’t have the numbers to fully encircle the hotel. Instead, they paced around it several times before peeling away to visit the New York headquarters of Romney’s old firm, Bain Capital.