Down on Wall Street

It was a genuinely friendly scene in Zucatti Park (formerly called Liberty Plaza Park) on Saturday, Oct. 1 as the Occupy Wall Street protest continued into its 15th day. The park, a haven amidst the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan's financial district, is owned by a firm called Brookfield Properties, not New York City, hence the police cannot raid the area without consent of the owner. Photo by Eric Francis. Note to webmasters and bloggers -- you don't need permission to use our photos of the protest that appear in this space. Just say where you got the photo and please give us a link back.

It was a mellow scene at Zucotti Park in Manhattan on Saturday, as the rain drizzled down on protesters who have been occupying the park for more than two weeks. This is not merely a bunch of kids; there were people of all ages. I personally met three different people who said they were grandmothers. The park is owned by a real estate development company, so the protests cannot be cleared without its consent — which it has not given yet. Let’s hope its liability insurance carrier keeps its cool. At about 3 pm yesterday, a few thousand people headed over to the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York Times reported on its Cityroom blog, “After allowing marchers from the Occupy Wall Street protests to claim the Brooklyn-bound car lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge and get partway across, the police cut the marchers off and plunged into the crowd and began making arrests.” About 700 were taken into police custody. Those who crossed via the pedestrian walkway above (including our photographer) were not caught in the trap.

As for the Tony Bologna pepper spray incident last week, the immune system known as Jon Stewart took care of that one.

Brother, can you spare a billion? This is a reference to be many, many billions in federal bailouts given to Wall Street institutions, which continue to hoard cash and gamble away the economy. Many taking part in the protests had a feeling of light-hearted street theater, but with a serious message. Photo by Eric Francis at Zucotti Park on Oct. 1, 2011.
Issues raised by protesters included unfair practices by health insurance companies to being unable to get a job out of college with a good (and expensive) education. These participants stood on Broadway, facing passers-by. Photo by Eric Francis on Oct. 1, 2011.
Blue Period: the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zucotti Park includes a number of 'facilities' including this sign-making shop, which had quite a bit of blue paint. There is a also a free kitchen and food service area, and a technology center powered by a generator. Photo by Beth Bagner on Oct. 1, 2011.
The Occupied Wall Street Jounal, a protest newspaper, was published last week. Copies were being given out free on Saturday, Oct. 1. Photo by Beth Bagner.
Another dog for economic justice. This photo is dedicated to my friend Billy, who urged me to be careful at the protest yesterday. Photo by Eric.
NYPD Community Affairs cops arrived at the protest Saturday evening to have what amounted to a rap session with protesters. Photo by Eric Francis.

12 thoughts on “Down on Wall Street”

  1. For one……I thought no coverage was a great thing……allow those who still sit on their butts watching TV who are angry sorts know about it and well…… could get messy. Power……..we cannot be empowered by trying to take away power from another……both sides seeking outer power are simply in a chain reaction of powr struggle………this is not healthy nore empowering.
    Anonymous…….sorry……no respect for someone who does not have the balls to show his face and who spreads bullshit propaganda no better than the tea party, corporations etc.
    As for the claims…… the homework, do the research. One sign, I have a right to a job. Bullshit…… such right exists……create a job, use your imagination and creativity, grow a garden, plant a seed, create a group of creators not destroyers who are living the american lie that any kind of war is justified……it si not the wars we see that are most dangerous…….its those we act out every day sunconsciously that are more dangerous.
    The claims….I digress sometimes 🙂
    Bailouts for the banks have NOT cost the taxpayers one bloody cent, in fact those bailouts have earned in interes etc for the taxpayers, ten billion dollars, with another ten billion expected………..oh and the UI extensions DID cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions………..the poor are getting their fair share and I don’t agree with socialism…..taking care of any person who feels it is their right to be taken care of, I do believe in taking care of the disabled and mentally ill (who are mostly imprisoned with your crazy legal system). I do believe in community, cooperation, persistance and love.
    I do believe in commitment to our families………our children need parenst………stay home moms or don’t have children………your children are your responsibility. I do believe in taking care of our parents…………hey they took care of us…..I have just eliminated about five socially paid for structures that cost every tax payer………don’t talk to me about health care…..I live in Canada where you think its free………a friend of mine from NJ and I one day dollar for dollar did the math…….because of my igh taxes……..I actually pay more for health care……so unless you want hiher taxes…….pay health insurance……….or take care of yourself and go holistic.
    That is the problem…..No One is taking their responsibility…..its everyone else’s fault….your country was built on capitalism and now that the “world” economy is tanking you want to blame the system…..after belly aching for every single thing to be the governments responsibility you want to complain because the country is broke…….a dollar only goes so far.
    And Anyone committed to fighting big business……..well don’t be a hypocrite…..boycott the top thirty dow companies……oh thats right…..all your toys are made by companies on that list………..your computers, your phone etc. Sure bitch at the banks for “letting” you get a mortgage you can’t afford, giving you CC’s to buy things you can’t afford and then belly ache when the defaults on those things create a finacial mess………..
    People need to be responsible for their actions and their part they played in all this…….because We All Did……no exceptions….and if you are too young to have played a part…..think again……you begged mom for those 500 shoes or those electronics you sat on your butt playing for most of your teenage years so you could be like your friends…..and your parenst felt guilty because well they went to work and abandoned you so they bought you whatever you wanted increasing your sense of entitlement and not working for what you have…….but they couldn’t afford it so they used their CC’s……..oh my……what a tangled web we have woven.
    When people start looking in the mirror first……….then we can solve these issues……… long as there is blame, we will not
    We will either go down together……..or soar together……but if we are to soar……we need to reach out for each others hand and stop blaming.
    Stop fighting……..
    Stop belly aching
    We have serious issues to deal with worldwide………it time we stop fighting those issues and start working to solve them……..hanging out in a park with a sign waiting for your donated food and drink……….it perpetuating the cycle…….not solving the issues.
    No platform, no end game……..just a bunch of things people are not happy with
    Non Productive Exhibitionism………This is NOT the sixties…….remember folks……that did not work……or we wouldn’t be here right now……many of those hippies turned into the yuppies……..nice job!!
    You do not solve a problem at the same level it was created (Einstein)……perhpas we need a few more einsteins and a few less idealistic dreamers who cannot see the forest for the trees………
    We’ll save the ship or we will go down with it…….and everyone needs to be working with each other, not against each other to save it…..Common Sense 101…..xoxoxoxox

  2. “If nothing else, we should not just get out of the way of the #Occupy movement. We should feed it, nurture it, and pray for these kids. They are the ones holding the bag, and our sleepwalk through the last three decades has forced them to hold it. We need to keep these kids and all who are there now deep in our hearts. They are rescuing the country from itself.”

    Perfectly said, Fe; I could not have written it better myself.

  3. kristal:

    The protests express everything the nation has been feeling, but out of a false sense of powerlessness and a generation-long onslaught against uprising, has been too afraid to act out.

    The powers these protests are standing up to can and might use the forces of violence and brute expressions to crush this movement. They are not. If they know better, they won’t. The movement has thousands of people who are expressing that they have nothing left to lose, and that is an imminently powerful force for change. We should not stop them out of concern for theirs or the public’s safety, when the very departments responsible for public safety are threatened with government de-funding and privatization by the Wall Street gang of thieves that have made off with this country.

    If nothing else, we should not just get out of the way of the #Occupy movement. We should feed it, nurture it, and pray for these kids. They are the ones holding the bag, and our sleepwalk through the last three decades has forced them to hold it. We need to keep these kids and all who are there now deep in our hearts. They are rescuing the country from itself.

  4. Kristal, you seem concerned that protesters would actually do something that exercised power. I think that blocking traffic, while illegal, is a legit form of civil disobedience. I am Mr. Safety and I believe that conscious safety awareness be used. Traffic disruption protests are a staple in Paris, where they verge on being something of a joke but we are more car-obsessed here.

    For reference, the roadway they blocked was a bridge between two boroughs of New York City. The boroughs operate as independent cities. There are more than sufficient fire resources on both sides of the bridge to address even a very serious fire. Both sides of the river are packed with hospitals, and anyone very seriously hurt is going to be choppered out anyway. If the issue really is about fires, in that neighborhood there are other places where mutual aid can come from, in the unlikely event of a problem so big that the resources on one side of the river could not handle it. For example this part of New York City is close to a third borough, Queens, accessible from Brooklyn and Manhattan. So I don’t think that’s a valid concern.

    This is particularly true on a Saturday afternoon, one of the lowest traffic volumes during daylight hours the whole week. If they really wanted to mess things up, they would block the bridge on both sides at about 8 am on Monday morning. My take is that they’re too friendly to do that. Yes some of the people involved on the idea level of this thing are plenty pissed off, and you may be too. However, like you, they are not out to stir up trouble but rather call attention to an injustice. What is interesting that their economic platform is on one level basically a more sophisticated rendering of Tea Party economics, tho the point of departure is on cultural issues. (And, economically, on the concept of what a corporation is.)

    Blocking traffic is a form of nonviolent protest. How many cars have been burned in London and Paris during recent protests? How many windows smashed in London and Vancouver BC? How much looting many other places? Blocking traffic is an eminently polite gesture, on that scale. I know some people are nervous that some elements in the crowd are gonna send things there, and vibes can always change – that park was one of the sweetest places I’ve been in a while.

    Meanwhile, as for the whole strategy thing — speaking in terms defined by the Midwest Academy, one of the very few forms of influence that the activists have is nuisance power. They chose to block something and (though it seems they were entrapped by the police) get arrested, that’s making a personal sacrifice that then ripples out into the world as news coverage and coverage of the judicial proceedings. The police and mayor have a lot of leeway how they handle any such situation. Though few would share my optimism, my faith in NYPD is more solid than in any other metropolitan force. Obviously they are not perfect (some outrageously stupid things have been done lately), but let’s just say that NYPD cops are actual New Yorkers.

    As for the protesters, they don’t have a lot of options for what to do, off the Internet (where they have tons of options). There is nobody for them to negotiate with. So their strategy has to be about raising public awareness, and in that they had a lot of help from the NYPD. As one cop said to me yesterday, “We have the ability to arrest a lot of people very fast.” And that makes news on the wire services even faster. In the end this comes down not just to who has a clearer message, but also who is better at getting it out. The city has a lot of room to make PR gaffes that turn this protest into something of a national pastime.

  5. Thanks, Eric and Beth, for the great pictures and for being there.

    OccupyTogether is scheduled for Lansing MI on October 15 and seems to be getting organized. The one for Detroit doesn’t seem to be as much, but it may just be issues with online links.

    Now to see who I can get from the red zone in which I live to go to Lansing, especially those “my age”.

    Again, thanks.


  6. Hopefully people will see the futility of this before it is too late………of course they were arrested, they blocked off a major passageway, they were asked to move to sidewalk…….some did…….some refused……now what if firetrucks needed to get through and hundreds died in that fire……..peaceful protest considers the safety of al fellow humans………this is simply disgruntled people who are in a power struggle and I think we all know……… problem is solved at the level it was created…….but we also know………….anarchy chaos death and destruction are in the wings……..hopefully not everyone gets caught up in it and there are some level headed loving souls left to rebuild the mess that will be the end result if this gets too carried away………..false power is now held by the upper crust…..the lower feel entitled…….so they may get their false power…….but it will still be false…..all power comes from within……as lennon said……
    One sign said…..I have a right to a job……….nope……not in the bill of rights, not in the constitution, but you do have a right for the pursuit of happiness and that has nothing to do with eternal factors…….
    Eric…..I thought we were evolving………same bullshit different century…….you should hire someone from a country outside your own so a balanced view can come forth…..
    A sense of entitlement is a sense of entitlement, whether it comes from the rich or the so called poor….how silly to play their game……to play right into their hands……..
    Create with your energies instead of trying to destroy……..and when you do…….the old will naturally just disappear…………but no one knows that tune………they are still singing the war song….where is Lennon when you need him…..xoxoxoxox

  7. Seattle had about 200 at peak times. They are definitely trying to stay organized(medical, art/signage, demands…) and had 50 people Occupy Westlake park overnight. I will be there again for the General Assembly this afternoon. Lots of discussion about . Mentioned I was an astrologer and was surprised about the interest….
    Here’s the twitter feed @occupy_seattle
    and site

  8. still jealous i couldn’t join you and beth yesterday! and glad you didn’t get caught in the brooklyn bridge snare. it’s such an exhilarating feeling to take over a city street as a group — no wonder so many couldn’t resist.

  9. This line came to me yesterday as I looked at the reports and photos: Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?

  10. Great photo documenting, Eric. I’m very interested in this story and grateful you are reporting it. How many people would you estimate are protesting?
    Occupy Denver is in it’s infancy but I must confess I was a bit disappointed because I didn’t have any sense that the middle class was participating (except myself and a very few others). The few older people there appeared to be seasoned radicals. Most seemed to be disenfranchised youth. Many fringe. I wore my work clothes and looked as middle class as you could be. But I felt out of place. Funny, because in 1969 I was 15 yo and lived in a commune. Lol

  11. That is interesting. It would seem that just about everything is for sale these days, or at least for rent.

    My take was, NYPD cannot make arrests at the park, so they are making them wherever else they can. However, there is nothing like busting 700 people in New York City (especially in an obvious snare like they did) to get people in San Francisco, Seattle and Boston interested in sparking something up. If they are trying to “quell the protests” it’s not such a great way to do it. For example, the Brooklyn Bridge arrests are the top national story on the SF Examiner’s website this morning. Way to go, cop bosses!

    Just as a side note re the cops, it was a mellow scene at the park. They had regular patrols on, not SWAT or riot cops — no ninjas to be seen, just your old fashioned NYPD blue, keeping their distance, and generally friendly people who had signed up for overtime. At night, they bussed in a bunch of “community affairs” officers who seemed to be hanging out and talking with protesters. They were making a point of being engaging and not trying to intimidate or escalate things.

    Our own photos of the Brooklyn Bridge scene are coming — but I’m going out to the land for a while to look at a tree, so I’ll be back at my desk in the late afternoon.

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