OWS Fight Is Far from Over: Explosive Actions on 2-Month Anniversary of Movement
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There, a good 2,000 or more were gathered. Using the human mic, students spoke against rising tuition costs, unfair practices by loan organizations and the prospect of facing unemployment and crippling debt upon graduation. But there were other concerns, too. One speaker from Juilliard advocated allocating more government funds to the arts, citing the New York State Theater's rechristening to David H. Koch Theater as an example of how corporate funds, while badly needed, sour the landscape. The crowd held signs ranging from "Students and Labor Band Together" to "Blackboards Not Bullets" (which was held by the actress Anne Hathaway, an NYU alumni). Possibly the most succinct sign we saw: "$hit i$ Fu¢ked."
After about an hour of speech there was a mic check: it was time to Occupy 5th Avenue. Protesters marched from Union Square across West 15th Street, which proved fairly easy, as it's a block-long street not often crowded with cars. As the march reached 5th, the crowd seemed to number close to 5,000, and traffic was forced to stop. The march made it to 14th Street before police barricades stopped it, and a police officer drove his cruiser carefully through the crowd to force dispersal. But protesters then headed back to Union Square where they momentarily overtook 14th and Broadway, a major thoroughfare.
The plan: walk down Broadway to Foley Square. As the protesters headed south, the march grew in number, as though random people were just streaming out of their apartments to join. By the time it hit Houston, it wasn't possible to see the beginning or the end of the column in both directions. Riot cops were equally plentiful, with batons at the ready. From my view, the march made it to Canal without incident, but cruisers and paddy wagons escorted empty school buses the whole way, all racing down Broadway toward Foley.
Foley Square: Over 30,000 Come to Celebrate OWS Anniversary
Walking into Foley Square at 5pm felt like the last big march (on October 5), redux--except darker thanks to the loss of daylight savings time. All the streets downtown were jammed with protesters streaming toward Foley.
Things got so crowded going into the park that human traffic crept maddeningly slowly toward the one entrance the cops had opened. Inside the park there was a mix of music, chanting, animated clusters of conversation and brilliant signs. Some slogans had a patriotic feel: "I Love the America that Wall Street F*cked, Don't You?" "Silencing the People is Un-American," "The Founding Fathers Were Protesters--Educate Yourself!"
Others were shorter: "People Power Over Profits!" "We Want to Work," "Thank You, Occupy Wall Street."
A few had messages for Mayor Bloomberg: "Hey Mr. Mayor, We Have Rights, You Are Wrong!" and "Bloomberg, We're Back and Stronger Than Ever." Those were getting a lot of attention.
The crowd listened to some rousing speakers: students, union members and one organizer who said that direct democracy (like local GAs) and direct action (like shutting down Wall Street) were the key to the movement's future.
And clearly, the crowd was hungry for the latter: "March, march, march!" they cheered, as they headed out at a slow crawl toward the Brooklyn Bridge. A rousing hip-hop anthem with the chorus "Run, don't walk, to the occupation" had people bouncing as they poured out of the square and into the streets.
March on the Brooklyn Bridge
The front of the march was stacked with people from unions and community organizations, with the leading contingent wearing white shirts reading "UnitedNY.org." Loud and energetic, they cheered and chanted their way across the Brooklyn Bridge, behind a phalanx of Community Affairs cops and legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild.