By: Kevin Gosztola Friday November 18, 2011 7:29 am
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.
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 The uselessness of telling NYPD you’re with the press. (They really don’t give a shit. You’ll be put in zipties and dragged to a police van.)
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