Occupy Wall Street marked its two-month anniversary with what organizers called a historic day of action. More than thirty thousand people turned out to rally in New York City and march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Earlier in the day, Occupy Wall Street pushed the NYPD to fortify the area in and around the New York Stock Exchange as hundreds participated in nonviolent civil disobedience. The morning protests led many police in riot gear to commit acts of violence and forcefully arrest a number of people. And, by the time the day of action was over, around 300 people had been arrested.
Demonstrations also took place in cities like Los Angeles, Portland, and Dallas. In Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, DC, actions were held on bridges to call attention to economic issues, such as the need for jobs and investment in infrastructure repair.
The protests were a top news item of the day and received a mention at the top of just about every news show broadcast on television. However, the focus of coverage centered on protesters “disrupting traffic” to get their message out. News anchors or pundits asked commentators to explain what the movement expected to accomplish with this tactic and whether it would turn off people, who might otherwise support the message.
This idea that Occupy was about “disrupting traffic” or, in the case of New York, shutting down Wall Street likely originated from a spokesperson with the New York Police Department. Most of the movement wants to march. It does not want to stop in one location and hold up traffic. It is the police who are unable or unwilling to keep moving the crowd, who create situations where protesters disrupt traffic.
In some instances, protesters do wish to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and block traffic. Police can tell when that is the intention. The protesters will march into an area and sit down. If they do not do this, chances are they wish to keep moving or they are gathered around to watch a police force buildup unfold, which tends to happen once police no longer allow a group of demonstrators to keep moving.
The media fixated on supposed plans Occupy Wall Street had to shut down subways and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge. For example, CNN repeated this NYPD talking point multiple times. Anchors or commentators would say this and then go to an occupier, who would inform CNN this was not the plan at all. The plan was to educate and talk to New Yorkers on subway trains on the way to a demonstration in Foley Square. The plan was to use the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge to march and not to disrupt traffic.
Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly also told press seven cops had been injured by protesters. Bloomberg and Kelly’s press conference was pure propaganda aimed at defiling and defaming Occupy Wall Street. It wholly ignored the injuries to protesters during the day and the incidents of police violence, such as police dragging people by their hair or giving demonstrators concussions while hitting them with batons.
Tens of thousands of people turned out to exercise their right to peaceably assemble and voice their grievances with government. It clearly showed this movement is not going away any time soon. Whether occupations have encampments or not, regular demonstrations will be taking place from now until next year (at least).
Firedoglake’s live blog continues now. Here is a Twitter list to follow for updates on all things related to the Occupy movement. I will be on the road today from Occupy Boston to Occupy Portland (in Maine). I will be at the Portland occupation at 5:30 pm tonight.
10:23 PM A report from my visit to Occupy Maine in Portland: Very tense at the camp. This morning there was an incident of violence with a man hitting someone in the head with a hammer. I attended a General Assembly where a press statement was read. It was very strong and I will post it tomorrow here for people to read.
Shamus (sp?), a homeless person, had a very powerful and moving reaction to the incident. He said he has no place to go. The camp is his home. He lives here. If the police came crashing down on Occupy Maine tonight, he would have to go sleep in a doorway somewhere. He pleaded with occupiers to make sure an incident like what happened this morning does not happen again because the camp is all he has right now.
The anxiety among occupiers reflects the sort of emotion city governments are creating among occupations. Drug overdoses, veteran suicides, sexual assaults, violent incidents, etc, are all happening because occupations, though utopian in their vision, are not immune to society’s ills. These problems do not happen because the camps themselves are filled with thieves, rapists and vagrants. They happen because the state has failed to adequately provide social welfare to people, who are visiting these camps and seeking refuge. And, occupiers want to help but in many cases the baggage homeless people bring is too much to handle.
More from Occupy Maine tomorrow.
10:11 PM Screen grab from a video of police pepper spraying UC davis protesters
In the video, it looks like this riot cop is spraying Roundup on weeds. Actually, that isn’t a fair comparison. The stream of spray is much more constant and like water from a hose.
Here’s the video:
10:02 PM Portland Police Bureau release video of pepper spraying of young woman at yesterday’s day of action demonstration
4:47 PM American Library Association condemns the city’s seizure and destruction of the People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street:
The dissolution of a library is unacceptable. Libraries serve as the cornerstone of our democracy and must be safeguarded. An informed public constitutes the very foundation of a democracy, and libraries ensure that everyone has free access to information.
The very existence of the People’s Library demonstrates that libraries are an organic part of all communities. Libraries serve the needs of community members and preserve the record of community history. In the case of the People’s Library, this included irreplaceable records and material related to the occupation movement and the temporary community that it represented.
We support the librarians and volunteers of the Library Working Group as they re-establish the People’s Library.
But, the city of New York apparently does not. Police have been seizing or confiscating books from the People’s Library as it attempts to regenerate ever since the raid early in the morning on Tuesday.
4:39 PM Report and video from Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian on Oakland police beating the 2nd veteran that was injured in Occupy Oakland protests, Kayvan Sabehgi
4:20 PM I am now in Portland, Maine. There is actually some news to report on the occupation: City inspectors showed up to the camp on Thursday. They say they found some “issues.” The city isn’t sharing what these “issues” are until a list can be ready.
Also, apparently, in the last day or two, there was a hammer assault at the camp. A man has been charged by police.
4:16 PM RT video of OWS protester bleeding from the head after being hit by a baton
2:51 PM New York churches offering evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters shelter so they can continue to demonstrate regularly are now being spied on by the NYPD.
2:49 PM UPDATE—4:02 PM Someone with AFP made it so video of an AFP journalist getting arrested could not play here. So, go to YouTube and watch.
2:48 PM Muslims gather in lower Manhattan to pray and march with Occupy Wall Street protesters against a decade of NYPD spying on Muslim communities
2:37 PM ICYMI: Occupy London takes over UBS building, calls it “Bank of Ideas.” The Guardian further reports:
They plan to welcome artists and performers, use the space as a replacement for closed-down nurseries, community centres and youth clubs, and highlight government moves to criminalise squatting. UBS and the police seem prepared to leave them there for now, although a UBS spokeswoman did say the bank was taking “legal action” against them.
Follow The Guardian‘s live blog for the latest on Occupy London.
2:34 PM WaPo’s Greg Sargent reports on the SEIU and CWA’s plans for “Occupy Congress.” There is nothing up so far from Occupy Wall Street or Occupy DC or any other occupations on if this is something occupiers would like to do. Unions and progressive groups are proposing this initiative to target Republicans in Congress. They aim to occupy to help President Barack Obama get his agenda through Congress.
2:25 PM Video from Deutsche Welle shows Brookfield Properties security throwing an Occupy Wall Street protester over a barricade.
8:51 AM Not allowed to have tents on the grounds at UC Berkeley, Occupy Cal circumvents the restriction and floats the tents in the air. (via @OccupyColleges)
8:26 AM Greenway, which owns Dewey Square where Occupy Boston is occupying, wants the encampment gone. They are urging Mayor Thomas Menino to evict the camp. Fortunately, there is a temporary restraining order in effect so technically the city should have to go to court to get an order to evict if they want the occupation removed.
8:24 AM Just one more example of the “professionalism” of the NYPD, which was on display yesterday.
8:23 AM Occupy Wall Street’s roundup on their day of action. They put the “historic day” into perspective.