This Is Only Getting Bigger: 20,000 Rally in New York to Support Occupy Wall Street
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It's 10pm in Liberty Plaza and the jubilant 20,000-plus crowd from the day's solidarity march has dwindled, now, to the faithful, the regulars, having debated and decided by consensus against another attempt at marching.
The police have dropped barricades around the entire plaza, but rumors that they are coming in are so far unfounded. The medical team has calmed down and are eating pizza from the boxes being carried throughout the plaza. A giant projection on the wall of a building across Trinity Street reminds the protesters "The Whole World is Watching #OccupyWallStreet."
A large group of people are holding signs and singing "This Little Light of Mine" down at the base of the plaza, almost to Trinity Street, where Ed Schultz of MSNBC is broadcasting his show live on the other side of the police barricade. An officer tells me the barricades aren't shutting us in, I'm welcome to leave at the corners of the plaza.
Despite an earlier clash with police (28 arrests reported, a far cry from Saturday's 700-plus) as a breakaway march from the permitted, union-supported solidarity rally headed down Wall Street proper, the plaza is mostly quiet.
Chris from the medical team, a firefighter from New Jersey, tells me that he treated one marcher who made it back to the plaza after having been pepper-sprayed. Videos and photographs are starting to circulate online of the clash with police, which include two Fox 5 reporters hit with batons and pepper spray.
Phillip Anderson, a local blogger and activist, was on the march to Wall Street and told me this story:
"We saw a ton of people crossing Broadway and decided to see what was happening. Easily 1000 people headed toward Wall Street; the cops made sure we didn't go straight there, so we took a circuitous route. When we got to Wall and William St., there was a barricade along the west side of William, along Cipriani, and people on the balcony above with glasses of champagne.
"It was obvious the cops weren't going to let the crowd go right so they went east down Wall, and then I don't know what happened but they came back loud and moving fast, drums banging. Instantly the cops moved the barricade to the east side, there were cops on horses, cops on scooters, they barricaded themselves in the middle and the crowd got to the edge of the barricade and then everyone just shut up. Dead quiet. I'm going to give those cops a lot of credit, they opened a corner and let the crowd walk out and the scooter cops escorted them almost all the way back."
The chant from the crowd, he said, was "Cops are the 99 percent!"
Earlier in the day, over 20,000 people packed Foley Square near New York’s City Hall and marched to Liberty Plaza to support the occupiers, who are on day 19 of their protest. Colorful union signs dotted the crowd as well as the handmade kind, showing delegations from the United Auto Workers, Amalgamated Transit Union, Teamsters, City University of New York faculty, and many, many more. All of the protesters I spoke to knew exactly why they were there.
"When someone's looking for a job, they're not visible," Jesse LaGreca, a blogger at Daily Kos who recently became an Internet celebrity for his smackdown of Fox News in an interview leaked to the Web, told me. The occupation, and the massive march in support, made those problems visible. LaGreca's takedown of Griff Jenkins, whom he called "one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Tea Party movement," resonated with activists tired of not being taken seriously. He pointed out "The last thing they want is someone who can clearly state why we're here. It's called Occupy Wall Street, not big bake sale, for God's sake."