An Overview of Occupy Wall St, From a Fledgling Protester
After briefly visiting OWS earlier this week, and having friends visiting from Boston [and attendees of Occupy Boston themselves] we decided to return to the epicenter of the movement.
I can’t even begin to express my awe of the “village” the protesters have built and their near-impeccable organization. The People’s Library, the buffet-style food distribution [free and warm meals], the sleeping arrangements, and the seemingly infinite signs located everywhere. It was beautiful.
Recycling, sharing, and music were some of the things that stood out to me the most. The generosity and, well, solidarity displayed by the 99% is so apparent. The peaceful nature and creative ways to circumvent and still obey regulations was probably the highlight of it for me.
Whenever someone would ring out “Mic check!” among us, we were sure to reply in kind, in order to get the message out due to the inability to use megaphones.
As I sat on the wall with my sign [“Can’t afford a $ign”] and like minded people, the idea of nobody listening or paying attention seemed ludicrous. Honestly, if I had a dollar for every tourist/citizen/spectator who made a comment about or took a picture of me and my sign, let alone the entire movement….well, I’d probably be in the 1% right now. Throughout the march, our chants and invitations to any spectator to come join us filled the sidewalks [we didn’t want another Brooklyn Bridge incident on our hands] almost as overwhelmingly as our presence. The NYPD, thankfully, was peaceful and I didn’t witness any altercations or words exchanged for my time there.
The only time I really felt insulted or heated was when someone felt the need to comment to me to “get a job”, to which I yelled back “I have two and I’m still in debt, what’s your excuse?!” Really now, critics have been so quick to assume that the movement is a bunch of jobless whining brats who won’t get anything done. And I agree, there are plenty of those, and trustafarians whose parents corporate jobs are allowing them to come out, but those are not a reflection of the whole. This issue affects 99% of us after all, so we need to start acting like it does.
This has already spread nationwide, and I’ve had friends go to Occupy Boston, LA, and Miami. I’ve read accounts of Denver, Seattle and Tulsa. We are growing. It’s already been proven this is more than some angry hippies in a park. If you haven’t stopped by a protest near you, at least research the movement. It’s pretty amazing, and worth looking into. Even if you don’t agree. Hell, especially if you don’t agree.
This video shows a senior NYPD officer swinging his baton, beating protesters at tonight’s Occupy Wall Street march in New York City. Onlookers chant, “The whole world is watching!” The protesters were also reportedly pepper-sprayed. You can hear people screaming at others to cover their eyes, so I don’t see this as outside the realm of possibility.
Reporters at The Guardian UK wrote:
Questions are once again being asked about police tactics – video footage shows officers beating some protesters with batons. Despite the march having a permit, and the roads being closed, police funnelled protesters onto the sidewarks and into tightly-penned areas. This appears to have led to the frustration: police say they made about 12 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct when a group of protesters tried to push through a barrier.
Many protesters are asking why the actions of the police seem to lead to confrontational situations, which the organisers of the Occupy Wall Street movement are so desperate to avoid.
The footage is horrifying. I know people will argue the officer was justified because he may have thought the situation was out of control. However, this was a permitted march. The roads were closed. The NYPD kettled protesters into tight spaces for no reason.
This resembles the purposeful leading and kettling of protesters onto the Brooklyn Bridge by the police - the same bridge police protested on in 1992. That protest was described as a “beer-swilling melee” by The New York Times. And lest we forget Tony Bologna’s brutality towards kettled protesters, here’s video of him pepper-spraying penned-up demonstrators.
The NYPD cannot be allowed to get away with this any longer. Several of those arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge Oct. 1 filed civil rights complaints in federal court. In the complaint, protesters seek to have their arrests nullified and state:
“After escorting and leading a group of demonstrators and others well out onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway, the NYPD suddenly and without warning curtailed further forward movement, blocked the ability of persons to leave the bridge from the rear, and arrested hundreds of protesters in the absence of probable cause.”
They also seek to have the city barred from using such tactics in the future.
I stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and I urge them to stand their ground. I hope these abuses of the U.S. Constitution do not dissuade people from further joining the movement. If you’re like me and can’t get to New York, find an event here.
Up until this announcement, the Occupy Wall Street movement has been unwieldy and somewhat lacking in a coherent voice, but that’s all about the change. New York City labor unions have decided to descend upon the streets of Lower Manhattan on Friday.
The leadership of the Transit Workers Union Local 100—comprised of subway and bus workers—voted unanimously to support the protestors. With a membership of 38,000, 5 Oct. will easily be the largest day yet in the protest. On 12 Oct., SEIU 32BJ, representing doormen, security guards, and maintenance workers around the city, is also staging a rally in support of the cause.
It’s unclear for now whether the transit system will be completely shut down while the 38,000 workers are participating in the protest. If it is, the Occupy Wall Street movement will definitely make its mark in history. And either way, it now has a substantial footing to make a real statement about American economy policy.
Jackie DiSalvo, an #OccupyWallStreet organizer, summarized the movement’s policy as such: “Occupy Wall Street will not negotiate watering down its own message.”
You have no idea how excited I am to see this.
My name is Kelly Schomburg, I’m the girl with the red hair in these pictures. I was protesting at the Occupy Wall Street march yesterday when I and several other women were sprayed with mace and subsequently arrested. Many have already seen the video, which has been spreading like wildfire over twitter, Facebook, tumblr, and other video feeds, along with hundreds of other photos and videos. This is my recount of what happened.
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