Students Support Occupy Wall Street, Shut Down Traffic


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.

“Are you gonna pen us in? Are you gonna trap us like animals?” shouted the crowd. The protesters claim that these same orange nets were used to force them onto the road on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, resulting in the mass arrests. One protester who has been arrested that day said, “They’re going to start arresting people. They’re going to close us in. Wait for the paddywagons.”

The paddywagons came, as did officers with large bunches of flexcuffs visibly attached to their pockets. As these officers positioned themselves, the real reinforcements arrived from Wall Street: police officers mounted on horses. The protesters screamed their disapproval, disgust and fear at such a show of force. According to witnesses, one woman punched an officer in the face, was sprayed with pepper spray, cuffed and arrested. Another man was cuffed and taken away, though it was not immediately clear what he was accused of doing. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crowd yelled.

By now, the students and the fair-weather observers were gone; those camping in Liberty Plaza don’t have homework to do. Yet, during the day, these same protesters held signs supporting particular reforms or changes. At night, it becomes hard to tell which causes the marchers support. Instead, they seem united in opposition to one thing: the NYPD. The marches—which, during the day, were displays of support and of peaceful anger, became little more than a means of frustrating and goading the NYPD.

Evening brings nastier run-ins

After the march on Wall Street, a smaller contingent headed further south toward Bowling Green. Before reaching there, however, the march fell apart into a series of altercations and arrests that sent protesters running and officers chasing to tackle. These happened so quickly and sporadically, however, that it’s tough to figure out why most occurred. At one scene, protesters asked angrily, “What did she do?” The officer responded, “Why did you run?”

After regrouping, the marchers set out again, this time winding a path throughout the Financial District that did finally bring them to Wall Street. Tensions rose, and then subsided, when the orange net again made a brief appearance. In-fighting began in the self-proclaimed “leaderless group” over which direction to take the march. The human mic wasn’t working, so the group broke apart. As the protesters turned west toward Liberty Plaza—temporary home for many—the march became a quieted trudge. Many would continue their night with additional marches and assemblies, but for some, it was time to rest so that they could occupy Wall Street again on Thursday.


Related content:

San Francisco Occupiers Fight Back Against Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street’ Issues First Official Statement

5 Ways To Support The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Movement

Occupy Wall Street Protests Spread Across The Nation

Wall Street Protests: Police Brutality Caught On Tape [Video]

Hundreds Occupy Wall Street In Protest Of Broken Financial System


This first-person account comes from Jimmy Carr, a sophomore at NYU, where he studies journalism, Arabic and history with a focus on wars and revolutions. He has also written for and


Photos by Jimmy Carr


William C
William C5 months ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Tami Mendoza
Tami Mendoza6 years ago


Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

I never stop at Starbucks. Starbucks founder and CEO is for tax fairness.

timothy m.
timothy m6 years ago

As the anti-corporate protesters walk down the street carrying their cellphones and iPods, then hit Starbucks on the way home...

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

NYPD one layoff away from being in the march..

Frances C.
Frances C6 years ago

I just left the Occupy rally in San Diego. It was great, couple of thousand very peaceful people. It was populated with diverse opinions on the changes needed. But the main themes seemed to be stop the wall st greed and the manipulation of our wealth into their hands. The need to pass the President's jobs bill. Our number one need right now is jobs. Call the Republican leaders to demand that they stop trying to ruin President Obama and do the right thing for the American worker. Demand that they pass the jobs bill.

Ted V.
Ted V6 years ago

New York's finest…

Mercedes Lackey
Mercedes Lackey6 years ago

1.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was A Civil Disobedience Action Against A Private Corporation. In 1773, agitators blocked the importation of tea by East India Trading Company ships across the country.
2.) The Original Boston Tea Party Feared That Corporate Greed Would Destroy America. As Professor Benjamin Carp has argued, colonists perceived the East India Trading Company as a “fearsome monopolistic company that was going to rob them blind and pave the way maybe for their enslavement.”
3.) The Original Boston Tea Party Believed Government Necessary To Protect Against Corporate Excess. Smithsonian historian Barbara Smith has noted that Samuel Adams believed that oppression could occur when governments are too weak.
4.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was Sparked By A Corporate Tax Cut For A British Corporation. The Tea Act, a law by the British Parliament exempting tea imported by the East India Trading Company from taxes and allowing the corporation to directly ship its tea to the colonies for sale, is credited with setting off the Boston Tea Party.
5.) The Original Boston Tea Party Wanted A Stronger Democracy. There is a common misconception that the Boston Tea Party was simply a revolt against taxation. The truth is much more nuanced, and there were many factors behind the opposition to the East India Company and the British government.

Yeah, #Occupy is WAY more like the original Boston Tea Party than the astro-turf organization of the same name.