'Festive, Righteous Anger': Occupy Makes May-Day Comeback With Massive Demonstrations
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Gregory went on to talk about how his role as an instructor, and a member of the Graduate Student Employees Union made him align himself more with student strikers than other instructors. As students face state budget cuts, and increasing tuition and debt, he sees his role as an instructor as part of the larger struggle around education rather than precarious labor.
"I make $15,000 a year -- I should be striking for myself, but actually I'm striking for my students."
After a fairly civil 20 minutes of chatting, singing, live music and navigating the march, a march began. The first man who tried to even so much as leave Sara Roosevelt Park was immediately tackled to the ground and arrested by the NYPD. After digesting the chaos, demonstrators decided to run en masse to the south end of the park, many jumping over the railings to avoid the police and began marching south toward Chinatown.
The police followed, a parade of 30 riot cops on mopeds following strikers on foot on the sidewalk and on bicycles in the streets. Throughout the crowded, but peaceful march, vans and other arrest vehicles began to follow the mopeds, indicating imminent arrests.
Ironically, the extreme police presence was blocking traffic and inconveniencing the flow of the city far more than the strikers.
Once the march reached Houston and Lafayette -- almost a complete square from where it began -- the cops donned their riot gear and took out their batons. Protesters were kettled onto the sidewalks, spilling off of them and threatened if even so much as a foot was in the street. One nicely dressed man, without provoking anyone, was arrested and thrown to the ground.
After being halted by the police, the march continued up Broadway -- ever racing riot cops to resist being surrounded, the march continued and ended at Washington Square Park.
-- Anna Lekas Miller
Free University: Madison Square Park, noon-3pm
The sun came out over Madison Square Park as OWS Free University kicked off. Forgive the pun, but the class war was definitely in session. Professors and experts gathered groups around them throughout the benches and pathways of this park as midtowners walking by stopped to look. There was a lesson on "horizontal pedagogy"--or how to teach without hierarchy--talks by noted leftist thinkers Chris Hedges and Francis Fox Piven, a discussion about native/indigenous resistance and another about gender constructs, and most pertinently, a student debt teach-in. One guy was even leading a class on "ancient political philosophy" and I thought about the Athenian forum.
This action was meant to--and did--accomplish two goals. First, it recaptured the "public square" aspect of Zuccotti Park occupation and other encampments, that sense of people radically coming together and talking to each other about major, transformative ideas without boundaries or rules. Secondly, it demonstrated by example a principle of communal, free, shared and sharing education without tuition or fees, a rejoinder to the rising tuition costs at institutions across the country.
As the "class" sessions came to an end under the sunshine, demonstrators talked in clusters, took pictures and gathered around the park's central fountain. And then the sound of chants, whistles and guitars began to float over the park.
Protesters rushed over to Broadway to see the advancing "guitarmy" march--a musical, un-permitted, wild walk down from Bryant Park led by Tom Morello, its members spilling out onto the sidewalks and the center of Broadway flanked by the NYPD. Cheers and the sound of musical instruments ensued as the march continued on its way down toward the afternoon's destination: Union Square.