For days, New Yorkers have been complaining about the headaches created by the General Assembly – police barricades, crowded sidewalks and traffic jams. What’s unique this September, however, is that the complaints are valid in both midtown and Wall Street, due to two very different assemblies.
The United Nations General Assembly turns out every year in east midtown Manhattan, with the General Debate this year ranging from September 21-24 and 26-27. But downtown, protesters of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement have been holding their own General Assembly in Zuccotti Park in the financial district since September 17.
No two General Assemblies are alike. Whereas the U.N. assembly hosted President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among its speakers, Occupy Wall Street has attracted the likes of Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon. The protesters are calling for reform of the financial system and an end to what they call institutional greed on Wall Street.
What the two groups do have in common is a tie to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Leaders of the Wall Street movement are demanding that Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologize for what they say was police brutality against some of its members. The mayor actually spoke at the U.N. assembly on September 20th about public health.
And let’s not forget the city’s third General Assembly – the only one that many New York City officials hope will still be around after next week. This one is a new hub for the tech startup scene in the Flatiron District that Fortune highlighted in its last issue, “A hothouse for startups.”
Bloomberg has ties to this one, too. He met with General Assembly after the Reinvent NYC.gov competition at the end of July.
How do the General Assemblies feel about each other? Requests for comment were not immediately answered by the United Nations, Occupy Wall Street, or the “NYC General Assembly,” an online group helping to coordinate activities for the Wall Street movement by providing resources such as the General Assembly minutes and a legal fact sheet for protesters to know their rights.
The startup campus General Assembly told Fortune it has no involvement with either the U.N. General Assembly or the Occupy Wall Street one. The company declined further comment — but one can speculate that it will be relieved when it’s the last General Assembly left in town.