What's not to like about Occupy Wall Street? Plenty, say the movement's critics. They accuse Occupiers of everything from poor hygiene to making threats of physical violence against corporate executives. They warn that the movement may be trying to foment a bank run and cyber-hack the New York Stock Exchange or some other bulwark of the establishment.
An article in the New York Post takes Occupiers to task for drug use, strewing litter and copulating in the out of doors. "Zuccotti Park," says the paper, smells "like an open sewer—with people urinating and defecating in public. "
ABC News reports that a faction of the computer hacker group Anonymous has threatened, in a gesture of sympathy with Occupy, to launch a cyber attack against the NYSE. In a YouTube video posted last weekend, a computer-generated voice warns, "Many people refuse to accept that Operation Invade Wall Street is a reality."
It goes on to say that while one faction of Anonymous is opposed to such an attack, another favors it. "Those who are going to be part of the attack," says the voice, "have a message to the NYSE: We don't like you. …We do not forgive. We do not forget. NYSE, expect those of us who plan to destroy you." Anonymous previously has claimed credit for hacks against Sony and Bank of America.
On Monday afternoon--the time of the threatened hack--the NYSE website twice slowed so significantly that it became all but unusable by visitors, according to monitoring group Keynote Systems in San Mateo, Calif.
Vincent Schiavone, founder and chairman of ListenLogic, a company that gives corporate clients advance warning of cyber attacks and of other threats circulating on the Internet, calls Occupy-related threats "alarming." His company monitors a wide variety of online sources—including Facebook and Twitter postings and even posted church sermons—to see what topics, issues and grievances are increasing in volume, meaning in intensity and in number on the Internet.
An online "Occupy Threat Center" created by ListenLogic says the company's analysis of "over one million social media posts" indicates a significant increases in all of the following:
-Social media activity from Occupy supporters and activists promoting physical destruction and violent action.
-Direct and specific threats from Occupy "hacktivist" groups against specific financial and law enforcement targets.
-Social media posts, videos and images targeting: financial institutions that issue mortgages and student loans and that initiate foreclosures; corporate entities that received bailout money or government subsidies; companies that pay high executive salaries or bonuses; and companies perceived to be paying extremely low taxes.
ListenLogic is detecting, he says, a change in the tone of discourse about the so-called 1 percent richest Americans.
There still are postings that talk about taxing the 1 percent more severely or even throwing them in jail. "But then," says Schiavone, "there's an increase in 'let's kill' them. We see 'eat the rich,' 'kill the wealthy.' There are images circulating of senior executives being decapitated, images of blood. Artists are releasing images of banks on fire."
Such extremism, he hastens to point out, is not representative of the objectives of most Occupiers. "Is that the movement? Absolutely not. They have been trying to be peaceful and respectful." But the movement harbors within it, he says, persons "a lot more radical."