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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...the Wall Street Action. The 1979 anti-nuclear protest attempted to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.


CURWOOD: On October 29, 20 years ago, thousands of people converged on Wall Street to protest corporate investment in the nuclear power industry. The plan was to block entrances to the New York Stock Exchange and shut it down for the day. But organizers had so well-publicized their event that traders went to work early, and more than 800 police officers surrounded the Exchange long before the opening bell rang, to keep protesters away from the building. By day's end more than 1,000 people were hauled away, and 300 were detailed by police. For the most part, though, the so-called Wall Street Action was nonviolent, even a bit festive. Most protesters were content to sing anti-nuclear songs at the police barricades, or debate their cause with, for the most part, unsympathetic Wall Street employees.

MAN: Are they all going to go home and turn off their refrigerators? That's the way to protest. Turn off your refrigerators, your electric lights, all your electrical appliances if you don't want nuclear energy. Then you don't need nuclear energy.

CURWOOD: The protest got its share of media attention, but it didn't make much of a dent in market activity. While trading was slower than usual that day, the Dow was down less than a point at closing. Twenty years later it's a different story. Today the market is bearish on nuclear power and the industry is lobbying Congress for tax subsidies to help bail out unproductive reactors. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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