OWS Fight Is Far from Over: Explosive Actions on 2-Month Anniversary of Movement
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New York City showed its billionaire mayor and the rest of the 1 percent that the fight is far from over, just two days after the violent crackdown on Liberty Plaza in the middle of the night Tuesday.
From a 7am march on Wall Street and subway speak-outs around the city to student walk-outs at CUNY and Columbia and a giant, permitted rally in Foley Square with a reported 30,000-plus attendees, the 99 percent showed up around the city to stand in solidarity with the evicted occupiers and express their support for a growing, expanding, living movement. There was also a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and projections on the Verizon building declaring, "We are Winning" and "Occupy Earth."
Occupy the NYSE: Massive Crowd Overwhelms Financial District to Kick off OWS Day of Action
The NYPD and the press had already occupied Wall Street proper by the time we got downtown at 6:30am, with broadcast trucks, cameras and barricades blocking the entrance. Four officers stood near a checkpoint, checking the IDs of Wall Streeters on their way to work. No one else, including reporters, was allowed in.
The signs were already out in abundance when we arrived at the plaza next to Liberty Park -- pre-printed signs from the National Nurses United calling to "Heal America, Tax Wall Street" and a beautifully drawn cardboard sign reading, "Take the Banks' TARP Too!" A young man behind us held the official Zuccotti Park rules and regulations, liberated from the park.
We knew that just by being here we were subject to arrest, and so we Sharpied the National Lawyers Guild number on our forearms as we sipped coffee and joked. The crowd rapidly swelled, packing us close in the tiny square between food carts and riot police in the street on Broadway.
A people's mic called our attention; two rounds of shouts in the crowd and we were told there would be two marches, one behind a black flag and one behind a green flag. The black flag march rolled out right away; we hovered behind the green march as a young woman came to tell us that our risk of arrest was significant just for being here, but that there would be red flags attempting to lead people away from danger if there was opportunity.
Four helicopters (at least) buzzed overhead as we waited in the park, with more and more people coming in to join us. By the time we headed out, the square was full again.
We streamed out past the line of unsmiling riot police, down Broadway. We were stopped at Pine Street and turned left, heading down the sidewalks as the police filled the streets. At Nassau and Pine, we came upon the end of the other march, and there were riot cops and mounted police in the street on Nassau.
"Whose streets? Our streets!" rang out as the crowd thronged into the intersection and protesters sat down in the streets. A marching band played in the street as we squeezed through the crowd and moved up Pine toward William Street.
The standoff at William quickly grew tense despite the presence of protesters dressed as trees, dancing to the sound of "Which Side Are You On?" from the band and chanting "Hey Bloomberg, Beware, Liberty Park Is Everywhere!"
Police attempted to push through, batons out, shoving the crowd back onto the sidewalk. AlterNet contributor J.A. Myerson slipped through and sat down in the street. Cheers erupted as we saw him loaded into the van.
One protester, however, had a hard time getting the NYPD to take him into custody. Retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis, in full dress uniform, was almost begging to be arrested -- kneeling in front of a line of cops, with his hands behind his back at the southwest corner of Nassau and Pine -- as he decried corporate exploitation. The police made feints at arresting him for a time, almost toying with the retired cop, but wouldn't actually do it -- at first. After he moved back through the crowd and up toward Broadway, they pounced, turning Lewis into a full-fledged OWS folk hero. Walking ramrod straight with his hands behind his back, the retired police captain was led by two NYPD officers through the intersection to the whoops, whistles and applause of the crowd.