One year of Occupy Wall Street: Thousands exercise right of peaceful assembly
The NYPD gridlocked lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, making it harder for New Yorkers to get to work than to vote (NY has NOT jumped on the voter ID bandwagon). Dozens of arrests followed – at least 70, according to Legal Aid (up to 135 by mid-afternoon), including three dangerous activists in wheelchairs.
And while some financial-district drones complained about the inconvenience, others expressed sympathy. “I think they’re exercising what everyone is feeling, even though we have to go to work,” Gabriel Adeniyi, an underwriting specialist, told the Guardian (UK)’s Adam Gabbatt.
Tom Morello, the hard-rocking leader of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, performed here last night, and told Rolling Stone,
“The one thing that Occupy has been very successful at is forever changing the dialogue around the great, unspoken five-letter word in American politics, and that’s ‘class.’ The people who were in the streets – whether it was 100,000 people in the streets of Madison, Wisconsin, or the months-long occupation of Zuccotti Park – those people haven’t gone away. Their ideas haven’t gone away.”
There were also mini-actions to bring messages of disquiet and disgust to the terrible troika of financial malfeasance: J.P. Morgan Chase, Citibank and the Bank of America. More arrests ensued.
Despite the arrests, Zuccotti Park had more of a celebratory carnival atmosphere.
As Gabbatt said,
It’s interesting to see Zuccotti Park almost exactly as it was when Occupy Wall Street began – in some corners groups chatting earnestly, planning marches and other actions, elsewhere drums and music, and then people who are just chilling out and having a snooze.
Today was billed as the one year anniversary of Occupy, and there is definitely a celebratory feel. Few people here see this as a re-occupation but for the most part people are happy enough just to have a large presence again – although the numbers are nowhere near some of the larger marches New York saw last year.
Occupy Wall Street is officially non-partisan, and has made digs at President Obama for balling around with banksers (and failing to prosecute anyone for nearly destroying the world economy four years ago). But Mitt Romney is pretty much the square-jawed, weasel-eyed poster boy of the 1 percent, and the protesters seemed to reserve a particular venom for him (like the picture, right, of Batman/VC mashup supervillain Bain Capital)
It’s also the 225th anniversary of the US Constitution, a document much lionized and much misunderstood in this country. For instance, the Constitution does NOT guarantee you the right to make an anti-muslim hate film; but it DOES guarantee you the right to walk down a New York City sidewalk holding a protest sign without being grabbed, wrestled to the ground and arrested by the NYPD.
Word is that there will be an attempt to re-occupy Zuccotti park, ground zero for the encampment model of the protest, overnight tonight – so expect one more confrontation with NYPD and more arrests. We’ll be keeping on top of this story, so check back in for updates…
Follow the events as they unfold live on UStream.