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5 strange things on which Occupy Wall Street spent donor money

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While the Occupy Wall Street movement was raking in its more than $686,000 in donations from people all over the country determined to help the occupiers with food, shelter, sanitation and more, the Finance-cum-Accounting working group was allocating money based on General Assembly votes and other working group requests.

Though, as Justin Elliot of Salon first noted, a significant proportion of the more than $160,000 spent to date went to food, physical shelter, much-needed sanitation supplies and even transportation for the occupiers — including in-town Metro cards and taxi fares and out-of-town trips to other occupations — the Accounting Working Group’s partial list of expenditures contains some eye-opening expenses that might not have been exactly what donors had in mind.

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5. Bail: $6,100
Given that the Occupy Wall Street movement saw nearly 1,400 arrested since its inception (1,300 by November 17 and approximately 65 since then), $6,100 spent on bail might not seem like a lot. But fully $2,000 of that was spent bailing out just two people (“Brandon” and Anthony Batalla) — indicating that donors’ bail money was far from evenly distributed.

4. Drums: $100
The ongoing drum circles in Zuccotti Park were a bone of contention between the occupiers and their financial district neighbors, causing the city to convene quality of life meetings and members of the movement to promise to limit drumming after 6 pm — a promise that proved hard to convince some drummers to stick to. After the limits were agreed upon, Occupy Wall Street spent $100… on drums.

3. Tobacco: $140
Occupy Wall Street had an infamous roll-your-own cigarette culture — one man even claimed to have rolled 15,000 for himself and his fellow participants. The [email protected] working group turned in receipts for $120 it spent to buy tobacco and rolling papers for the crowd.

2. Laundry: $3,837
While Salon’s Justin Elliot classified the laundry expenditures as “essentially social services,” others might hesitate to call free laundry an essential need of occupiers in a city of 24-hour coin-operated laundromats. And that’s before one sees the (sparse) expense notations that include $100 for dry-cleaning for the Think Tank Working Group, almost $300 in parking tickets for the Laundry Working Group and $140 for a U-Haul to transport it all.

1. Halloween puppet supplies: $3,000
Most people know the Occupy Wall Street movement had a strong inclination to the arts — though they may not have know about expenditures like the $185 the Library Working group spent on binders and printing for their participant-written poetry anthology and the $78.49 the Arts and Culture Working Group spent on food for their art opening on November 21. But it’s the outsized expenditure on puppet supplies for Halloween that was bound to raise donor eyebrows — though it probably pleased Occupy Wall Street Puppet Guild founder Joe Thierren.

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[Image via David Shankbone on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]


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