"From Oakland to NYC, Stop Police Brutality!" Occupy Wall Street Marches In Support of Oakland
As Occupy Oakland's day of action continues on the West Coast, New York's occupation and those in solidarity with it spent the day expressing their support for the Oakland protesters teargassed and driven out by that city's police department.
This morning, a veteran-led march kicked off the day, calling attention to the attack on Scott Olsen, the Iraq veteran still hospitalized after being hit with a police projectile as the Oakland police cracked down.
"The significance of it hit me harder later," Jason Matherme, a tall vet in an Iraq Veterans Against The War shirt and blackframe glasses, told me. He was touched by the march, the support of the veterans for one of their own--and he wasn't alone.
In the afternoon, students, union members and flag-bearing members of various socialist parties gathered at Washington Square park and marched to Liberty Plaza; their signs too bore reference to Scott Olsen and to police brutality--Sean Bell, the young man killed in 2006 by NYPD on the morning before his wedding, was namechecked, and flyers calling for more action to "stop stop and frisk" were distributed (as well as "restore Glass-Steagall flyers" from the LaRouche PAC, who as usual have glommed on to any public action to add a veneer of legitimacy).
Once the march reached Liberty Plaza, it headed straight for One Police Plaza; the crowd, dotted with American flags and veterans still dressed in their fatigues, chanted "How do we fix this deficit? End the war, tax the rich!" and "Cops say get back, we say fight back!"
Sgt. Shamar Thomas, the veteran who became an Internet celebrity for calling out police during the Times Square march weeks ago, was out with the veterans' crowd and called "I remember you!" to a police officer on a scooter as we made our way down the street.
When the march culminated at One Police Plaza, the crowd of hundreds was so thick that four rounds of People's Mic were required to get the speakers' words to the back.
"We are here because the police attacked" Oakland, the People's Mic rumbled. "We know if we get attacked they will support us."
The speaker called out what seemed to be a litany of names of people killed by NYPD. "To the 99 who are people of color, this building," the police headquarters, "is a tombstone. Here lies Sean Bell. Here lies Abner Louima."
In a solemn moment, as I walked out of the plaza, the speaker, who appeared to be in military fatigues, called on the crowd to raise their right hand and pledge to protest police brutality, wherever in the city it occurs, to promise to march to that borough and support the communities hurt by the violence.
They also, though, acknowledged that many rank-and-file police officers dislike procedures such as stop and frisk, once again adding nuance to the movement's critique of the police--who many continue to acknowledge as the 99%.
The protesters moved out after denunciations of Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, heading back to Liberty Plaza amid chants of "From New York to Oakland, the system is broken!"