by Jimmy Carr, New York University student
Protesters representing New York University and the New School marched from Washington Square Park to Foley Square in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Student carried signs for their own varied causes: environmentalism, socialism, tax reform, anarchy, bipartisanship and more. Though no official estimates are available, it is thought the group numbered over one thousand.
The trail of students and professors stretched four blocks by the time it began to head south on Lafayette Street. “Please stay on the sidewalk,” stated the police. “It is illegal to obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic,” one officer informed the crowd. Legal considerations aside, the crowd rushed into the street and filled it, stopping traffic in both directions. Unlike the incident on the Brooklyn Bridge that occurred earlier this week and resulted in over 700 arrests, however, the police did not fight this seizure. They may not have been able; the comparably low police presence may indicate that the New York Police Department did not expect the Washington Square rally to draw such numbers.
Whose Street? Our Street!
“Whose street? Our street!” rang through Soho, through Chinatown and into lower Manhattan as the crowd progressed. NYPD officers on mopeds, who had formerly kept marchers on the sidewalk, buzzed slowly alongside the crowd. At the vanguard of the student column was a banner that makes their inspiration plain: “ARAB SPRING, EUROPEAN SUMMER, AMERICAN FALL.” One protester said that her cousin, a revolutionary in Egypt, told her, “You must do the same. You must start a revolution.”
In Foley Square, home to many New York courthouses, it is estimated that around fifteen thousand had gathered to show their support, including a large number of labor and trade unions. The now-unified masses marched to Liberty Plaza, the Occupy Wall Street Movement’s operations headquarters and literal home. Throughout the march, both the protesters and the police officers were generally polite and respectful; one officer kindly pointed out a protester’s unzipped purse so that she might close it in such a crowd.
Once in Liberty Plaza, the activists — and any passersby caught in the human tide — seemed to first do one thing: party. Musicians played looping, tribal rhythms; chants swept the park; individuals engaged in conversation both intellectual and silly; volunteers dispensed free food and cigarettes; others read books from “The People’s Library” as they lay upon air mattresses.
Then the marches started. First, to Wall Street. By the time the first wave arrived and began crossing Broadway, however, the NYPD intervened: No one would be allowed onto Wall Street. “Stay on the sidewalk,” was now an order, not a request, and it was shouted through a megaphone. “If you are in the street, you will be arrested.” Officers formed a human wall on either side of the road, and soon crowds of NYPD officials crowded the street. They brought with them the one thing that has come to instill the most fear and anger in the protesters: the orange nets.
Photos by Jimmy Carr
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