On Monday, exactly a year after putting economic inequalities under the global spotlight with its rallying cry of “We are the 99%”, Occupy Wall Street was back in Lower Manhattan for new demonstrations in an attempt to revive its dwindling momentum.
Starting at 7AM local time, and amid a large media and police presence, a few hundred Occupy Wall Street activists gathered in New York’s financial district although police kept them well away from the New York Stock Exchange, which protesters had threatened to surround. The broad coalition of anti-capitalists, peace activists, unions and citizens launched several marches and sit-ins throughout Lower Manhattan to the ominous sound of drums and chants, including some “Happy birthday” songs.
Several protesters held signs, one saying “END the FED,” another reading: “We Are Students, Not Customers.” “What happened here a year ago was a process that cannot be stopped,” Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges said. “What happened here a year ago will ultimately spell the doom of the corporate state.”
Activists berate police tactics
Chief New York Police Department spokesman Paul Brown confirmed that no OWS demonstration permit applications were submitted, but said police would be prepared for demonstrations. “We accommodate peaceful protests and make arrests for unlawful activity,” he said.
However, at 10AM local time, the New York Police Department was already reported to have arrested at least 70 activists. Among them, Twitter user @mollycrabapple managed to tweet from the police van. She wrote: “just grabbed off sidewalk, along with everyone else here (…) everyone in van just yanked off sidewalk. Police ordered to just start grabbing.”
Live video feeds set up by citizen journalists on the ground showed glimpses of the police tactics in place, including officers in riot gear as well as what demonstrators say were violent and unprovoked arrests of peaceful protesters.
Occupy Wall Street sponsored a series of activities over the weekend, attended by crowds not more than a few hundred strong. New York police arrested around three dozen people at those events.