Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Checking claims from Occupy Wall Street

"This is a historic day," Michael Moore said at the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Occupy Wall Street, the mass of people protesting in New York's financial district, is not a typical political group. It has no leader and no formal organization. It is very much a grass-roots protest about the disparity of wealth in the United States.

The lack of leaders and central organization makes it a little bit harder for PolitiFact to find claims to fact-check. But we've begun examining claims from people and groups involved in the protest and we'll be looking at more over the next few weeks.

To the extent the effort has a voice, you might say it's filmmaker and provocateur Michael Moore. He made a claim last week that while there have been dozens of arrests of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, "Not a single banker, a CEO from Wall Street, anyone from corporate America — nobody, (there was) not one arrest of any of these people who brought down the economy in 2008."

We found a handful of arrests of some obscure mortgage company officials, but he was correct that none of the main players from banks and financial firms had been arrested. We rated his claim Mostly True.

We also checked a claim from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont that "Today, you have six financial institutions, the largest six, that have assets that are the equivalent of 60 percent of the GDP of the United States of America."  We rated that True.

We'll be checking more claims from Occupy Wall Street (and similar protests in other cities) in the next few weeks. If you see one you'd like us to check, let us know.