So, above are a few pictures from the protest and march on Saturday, October 1st. Steve and I have known each other since we met online when we were 11 (oh, yes) and although we hadn’t seen each other in ten years, we’re always in touch. He’s become a bit of an activist at his college and when he heard about the Occupy Wall Street protest and the lack of media coverage they were getting, he wanted to come check it out for himself. He called me and booked a 6pm flight two hours prior to take-off on Friday from Orlando.
We got down to Liberty Plaza around noon and took it all in. We talked to people, listened to others talk, and educated ourselves on what was going on. There was a meditation circle near the east end of the plaza which turned into a chanting circle of the Hare Krishna, which was amazing (videos here and here). There were people of all ages, both genders, all ethnicities. Just coming together and bonding due to a common frustration with the lack of representation they feel in a supposed democracy (and a plethora of other reasons too).
Eventually two huge bags of brightly colored balloons were brought to the plaza. One was used to make a rainbow, and the other was used to make a shape that flew overhead with a camera hidden in it. The march towards who-knows-where started at 3pm and literally no one had any idea where we were going. Steve and I had decided we would march and go along until we felt unsafe, and so along we went. Walking up Broadway was pretty awesome because every time a tourist bus would pass us, we’d get a load of tourists cheering us on and throwing peace signs our way. Absolutely amazing. There were a ton of chants being thrown out. I’m not a huge fan of chants personally but I said a few of them. When everyone started heading towards the Brooklyn Bride walk way, I knew it was time for me to detach (I had a family obligation that night) and simply watch. I had a feeling that it was a trap and that it’d be like shooting fish in a barrel once everyone was on the bridge. Steve decided to go ahead though and I told him to call me, otherwise I would call his dad. I stood across the street and watched everyone board the pedestrian sidewalk (yup!) and I watched the police as I suspected that they were there to simply arrest the peaceful crowd once they were all on the bridge.
Accord to Steve, the NYPD waved the marchers onto the actual road until they were 1/3 of the way on the bridge when they stopped and rolled out the orange mesh netting kettling them. People were climbing from the road to the pedestrian sidewalk, with help from the people already up there. Eventually, as we’ve all seen, they just arrested everyone (here’s one of Steve’s pictures from on the bridge) and they sat for 2 hours in the rain on the bridge while the police figured out where to send everyone. Steve wound up at Plaza One in the Financial District (I think) where he was until 1:30am. The footage of the first arrests are quite traumatizing. Police brutality and even the arrest of an unarmed, calm thirteen year old girl. New York’s finest indeed.
I’ve found myself wondering what would’ve happened if the crowd refused to stop and kept march towards the police, V For Vendetta style. Would the cops have taken out their guns or stood down?
He said the cops were pretty pissed about all this extra work that they’d created for themselves and eventually started joking with the arrested protesters. They didn’t take individual mug shots, just group photos of each cell. Steve walked through my door around 3am, feeling sick and with his wrists bruised from the plastic ties.
The press for the scene was nuts. Especially after they arrested a reporter for the New York Times (good job, guys!). The New York Times, HuffPo, Daily Kos (which covered the fact that the Times’ shifted the blame from the cops to the protesters in 20 minutes), and the blog Dangerous Minds had up the video of the 13 year old girl being arrested. Lots of police brutality and racial profiling in those videos. They are very, very frightening.
I hope these protests don’t lose steam anytime soon. This is the most activism that our generation has ever seen and now that other Occupy protests are popping up around the country, it would be an awful shame for them to stop now. I’m going back down this weekend with a friend who’s curious and I’ll take more. Steve heard [while in jail] that Wednesday is the day when the unions are supposed to join the protesters and have a huge march. A handful of Marine’s are also rumored to be headed up to New York to protect the protesters from New York’s finest (can anyone confirm or deny this?).
If you don’t know what’s going on, you should definitely head down to Liberty Plaza to educate yourself (take the N/R trains to Cortland Street). It’s incredibly peaceful and inviting; there’s literature and snacks. Donations are also readily accepted. You can visit their blog here, which contain links to their Twitter and Facebook pages.
The rest of my photos from Saturday can be viewed here. I hope you check out the action for yourselves.