Occupy Wall Street celebrated its first anniversary Monday by taking to the streets… and winding up in jail. In total, nearly 200 protesters were arrested throughout the day, illustrating that not only are people still committed to the cause, but that authorities are still equally committed to stifling dissent in New York City.
OWS’s birthday marked a resurgence in participation for a movement that the media keeps trying to declare dead (see Gothamist’s “31 Groan-Inducing ‘Is Occupy Dead?’ Headlines”¯). By nightfall, at least 1,000 protesters convened in Zuccotti Park, the site of the movement’s occupation until November of last year.
The group was short 181 members, however, as police had been busy arresting protesters throughout the day. Though some were handcuffed for blocking traffic or exercising civil disobedience, livestream footage indicated that many were just plucked at random from crowds, perhaps to make an example to the rest. In fact, the majority of protesters were arrested for “disorderly conduct,” a blanket charge that police often use when they have nothing substantial to cite someone with but want to apprehend them anyway.
Citizen journalists captured the arrests — many of which were violent — on their cameras. RT posted some alarming video footage that shows just how roughly the NYPD handled the protesters:
Among those arrested were several journalists, which reporter Josh Stearns has cataloged. The NYPD, which has been criticized in the past year for blatantly blocking the freedom of the press, did not seem deterred from booking reporters. It would appear that the police are actively trying to discourage reporters from giving the Occupy movement any substantial coverage.
Case in point, the Associated Press article that most media outlines are republishing downplays the number of Occupiers that congregated Monday. While they acknowledged 180 arrests, they put the total number of protesters at “a few hundred,”¯ which would mean that NYPD apprehended around half of all demonstrators. That’s some efficient policing! The AP’s article also concludes by saying “Banks including Citigroup and Wells Fargo have said they’re committed to having open dialogue and working with their customers during difficult economic times,” as if to dismiss the protesters’ economic gripes. After all, the banks are clearly on the people’s side.
Occupiers used the anniversary to not only remind the city of their presence, but to reconnect with fellow activists. Although police surrounded Zuccotti Park, since the Occupiers did not attempt to permanently reoccupy the park, there was no major incident. However, a few individuals were arrested for lying down, which is against park rules. Also, The New York Daily News also documented a late night scuffle between an officer and City Councilman Jumaan Williams, who says he was there to witness the Occupy event.
Photo Credit: Paul Stein