Far from intimidating Occupy Wall Street, the massive police raid early Tuesday morning has made it more determined than ever. Thousands of supporters rallied on Thursday for a Day of Action, attempting to shut down Wall Street itself, which was defended by a huge police presence.
Alison Kilkenny blogs from the morning’s protest: “Before any demonstrator could set foot near Wall Street, the NYPD had barricaded off the streets surrounding the NYSE so that protesters wouldn’t be able to access the area. … The demonstrators devised a new plan on the fly, consisting of splinter groups that acted to occupy the financial district’s intersections, so while they could not occupy the NYSE itself, they surrounded it. It was literally impossible to walk anywhere in the financial district without colliding with an Occupy protest. Several business people lost their cool when, time after time, they kept running into the protesters. … The business class losing their composure and shouting at protesters is something of a new phenomenon. In past weeks, business people ignored Occupy, but I’ve witnessed quite a few heated confrontations in recent days.”
According to the New York PostBulletin: “Over the next three hours, the protesters wound their way through the heart of the financial district, breaking off into groups, and were repeatedly met by the police. At one point, the protesters engulfed police vehicles, forcing them to halt, and broke police lines, only to be pushed back by metal barricades and swinging batons. The morning was marked by increasingly tense standoffs.” CBS overhead video shows the police surrounding demonstrators and corralling them into confined areas. Over 200 were arrested.
Later in the morning, the defiant protesters re-occupied Zuccotti Park. Video of the events shows that they had lost all fear of the police. The New York Times reported: “Around 11 a.m., hundreds of protesters streamed into Zuccotti Park, shoving aside barricades and flowing into the granite expanse that they had been ousted from on Tuesday. … By 11:15 a.m., perhaps a thousand people filled the park, standing on benches and milling about. … several officers could be seen shoving and punching protesters and journalists.” The Guardian blogged: “In the park, protesters celebrated with music and dancing. The plaza, which has been near-empty over the last two days, is now filled with protesters preparing for further actions planned throughout the city.” However, the police rushed the protesters in the square just before 2 p.m. and began indiscriminately shoving people and reportedly hitting people with batons.
A mass rally of students then joined the protests. “At 3 p.m., thousands of students, workers, and other supporters gathered in Union Square chanting ‘Shut the city down!’ and using the People’s Mic to share stories of how banks and corporate greed have impacted the 99%. Simultaneously, Occupiers took to multiple subway stations in all five boroughs. Students chanted ‘CUNY should be free!’ and ‘Student Power!’ as they took to the streets along 16th and 5th Avenue, shutting down traffic and leaving police powerless to respond.”
Guardian reporter Ryan Devereaux joined one of the subway groups: “On a train bound for Times Square roughly a dozen demonstrators shared stories with their fellow passengers. A young woman named Molly described her work in low-income communities where people lack access to healthy food options. She described the dearth of nutritious options in a country of extreme wealth as an ‘outrage’.”
Crowds streamed down Broadway toward Foley Square where they joined a large contingent of labor unions to commemorate two months of the occupation. By 6 p.m, the Guardian reported, “The number of people in Foley Square, a large open plaza ringed by courthouses and civic buildings near the Brooklyn Bridge, has swelled to several thousand, according to our reporters there. Occupy Wall Street protesters have been swelled with union activists: there are loud hailers, printed placards and a crowd that’s somewhat older than the usual OWS lot.”
From Foley Square, an estimated ten thousand demonstrators marched to the Brooklyn Bridge. “After looping around City Hall Park, a long line of protesters that appeared to number in the thousands streamed onto the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge and began crossing the East River. Many carried candles, and the mood was relatively quiet.” The stream of marchers stretched for a mile on the bridge approaches, and ended peacefully with a general assembly on the Brooklyn side. Among the tweets sent from the march: “Overheard near Brooklyn Bridge – NYPD officer to another – ‘Whaddaya say we occupy the van?’”
A massive light show was projected on the Verizon building south of the bridge. Ryan Deveraux reports that it read: “’We are the 99%, Look around, you are a part of a global uprising … We are unstoppable, another world is possible … We are a cry from the heart of the world … It is the beginning of the beginning.’ The projection then goes on to display the names of occupations around the country in rapid-fire succession with the final name reading, ‘Occupy Earth’.”
So where does the Occupy movement stand today? As the light show at the Brooklyn Bridge said, we’re at the beginning of the beginning. Recession is biting hard at young and old alike. An upsurge of anticapitalist sentiment is mounting which is generating all manner of movements: it was expressed in the vote to repeal the anti-union laws in Ohio and also in the drive to recall Scott Walker in Wisconsin – 50,000 signatures were collected for the recall in the last 48 hours, and it appears he is also losing support in his Republican base.
The refusal of Occupy/We are the 99 percent to be cowed by the police show of force is inspiring people across generations. The #OWS website on Thursday posted this message from Redditor Aniadrift: “I want you people to know, all of you who have been in the streets fighting, that you have given me hope for the country that I never thought I would have before. That before this movement started, I was one of the apathetic, ready to give up on the system and just try to leave the country as soon as possible. That because of your movement, I am now alive again, ready to fight for my country, ready to change this corrupt system. That because you have done this for me, I know you have done this for millions of others as well. People will tell you that you fight in vain, that you are accomplishing nothing, that you have no direction, that your actions are pointless. But your actions are far from this. You have destroyed the greatest enemy to freedom, and the greatest ally of the ruling class: Apathy.”