NYPD Mass Arrests of Occupy Wall Street Protesters: Firsthand Account from AlterNet Staffer Trapped on Bridge

At the time of this posting, hundreds of Occupy Wall Street protesters, members of the press and bystanders are being penned by the police on the Brooklyn Bridge, waiting to get arrested one by one. (The livestream is in the previous post.) According to eyewitnesses, the NYPD closed the bridge to traffic as the surge of protesters arrived, but then used the crowd's presence on the roadway to corral them in on both sides, so that no exit is possible.

AlterNet's Kristen Gwynne is among the crowd, and here is what she just told us by phone:

"They're arresting us one by one. I just asked a cop and they said they're going to arrest all of us. There are hundreds of people who dont have room to sit down. We're just clammed in."

"I'm probably going to be arrested in the next hour or two."

While some reporters and members of the press who were walking with the protesters are sharing their fate, Kristen says others are separate: "There are fancy-looking press in suits, totally separate from everyone else, fifty feet from us."

As for the morale of the crowd, she reports, "It was amazing coming over when we took the bridge. There was so much energy and pride and courage. We tried to push back for a while, then they started arresting us."

"Some people are upset, but mostly people are hanging tight, dealing with it, waiting to get arrested." 

UPDATE, 6:07 pm, Kristen reports via text: "Now it's raining. There are still hundreds of us, people are putting backpacks on their fronts, so cops don't take them when we're arrested."

She says that rumors in the crowd include the suggestion that the Lawyers Guild is working on bail money for the arrested protesters and negotiations with the cops. She says, "a friend told me there's a rumor this is over. It's not over."

As for morale? The remaining protesters are huddled together under umbrellas singing "this little light of mine."

UPDATE, 6:26 pm, Kristen reports:"Now it's pouring and we're huddled five people to an umbrella. People just sang that [Rihanna] song "you can get under my umbrella. " Spirits are high and people are sharing what they have and coming together to protect each other."

She adds, "Probably not much longer until I am arrested. Some people have to use the bathroom!"

UPDATE, 6:32pm, Kristen reports by phone: "Protesters are asking able-bodied male people to go up to the cops and accept their arrest, to speed along the process. Boyfriends and girlfriends are kissing each other goodbye as the guys go off to get arrested." 

The pace of the arrests, she says, "is still pretty slow, but this is strong in size and we're probably all going to get arrested soon."

6:40pm:A police officer told Kristen that there were less than 150 people left and they're all lining up to get arrested. "They also have a bus here, a New York city bus, that's taking people away," she says.

7pm: No word from Kristen in a while, which means we assume she has finally been arrested and taken to be booked and hopefully, released quickly. More information forthcoming as soon as we have it.

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne, Sarah Seltzer

Posted at October 1, 2011, 11:58am

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