Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Movement in Second Month

Members of the Grannie Brigade at a Lincoln Center
As The Occupy Wall Street movement grows, it has embraced various groups protesting specific social and economic injustices. I have been covering events initiated by these affiliated groups: The Grannie Brigade at a peace vigil at Lincoln Center (these senior citizens have been protesting against war for six years); a march to the New York District Attorney's office by Vocal NY, a group of community activists,protesting police brutality and arrests of OWS participants; a march and protest at a meeting aagainst fracking; a rally and civil disobedience action led by Cornel West and religious leaders in Harlem that kicked off a campaign against the NYPD's Stop and Frisk policy; and a march to Union Square by The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.

Despite Mayor Bloomberg's promise to be tougher on protestors who don't obey the law, no further mass arrests have been made in New York City. The only arrests made were those of Cornel West and others protesting the Stop and Frisk policy. NYPD gave the group time to say their piece in front of a Harlem precinct headquarters before arresting those who were determined to be arrested, locking arms until they were taken away.

Two days ago police in Albany refused orders to arrest protesters, while the encampment in Oakland was broken up by police with tear gas and arrests. What is next for protesters in Zuccotti Park, no one knows, but their agenda is growing and tents are replacing tarps as cold weahter moves in.

Click here to see images available through Corbis and others through Flickr set

Cornel West leads a protest against NYPD policy, Stop & Frisk

Man at a meeting on Spectra Pipe Line
Protestor at a meeting on Spectra Pipe Line
Protester offers flowers to NYPD in  front of DA's office

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Weekend in NYC

Victory Sign in Zuccotti Park after Mayor Backs Down
On Friday, 10/14, protesters took to the streets early in the morning after plans to remove them in order to clean up Zuccotti Park were called off. Thousands had come out to protect the protesters from being evicted. Since the protest began on September 17,  the marchers for the most part have  stayed on the sidewalks, but  after the stand-off everyone was expecting was diffused, protesters took over the streets Friday morning. Cops enforced crowd control by running a line of motorcycles up behind the marchers and making some arrests, which did not dampen the jubilant mood of the day.
Man cuffed after being run over by NYPD bike

Man after getting fitted for free suit looks in mirror

 Saturday, October 15th was a day of international protests inspired by Occupy Wall Street.  New York City demonstrators turned out in the thousands to occupy Times Square after a number of other protests around the city. I started the day at Zuccotti Park, where people were suited up in business attire donated  by a group called Wall-Suits. I followed the protesters on a march through the financial district, where Chase headquarters and a smaller branch were targeted. A splinter group remained at the branch and shouted out demands for people to close their Chase accounts.  Protesters had their say until higher-ups in white shirts told them  to move on.
A demonstration at the Astor Square Chase branch ended without incident, but 24 were arrested at City Bank on LaGuardia Place when the protesters entered the bank. After rallying in Washington Square, protesters made their way to Times Square. The area was already packed with supporters by the time the core OWS group arrived. The police dealt with the steady flow of new arrivals  by putting up more and more barricades,  causing confusion and making the flow of human traffic almost impossible. Protesters, tourists and locals found the barricades objectionable. A tense situation ensued since no one knew in which direction to move, leading to a breakdown of the otherwise peaceful demonstration. At 46th Street, protesters and police clashed. The police pulled out all the stops, sending in officers on horseback and riot police. From an elevated vantage point, I photographed the crowd challenging the police. The police barricaded themselves in the middle of the street. For a few moments it seemed like anything could happen as the horses rode toward the crowd.
Police send reinforcements
The news that the media was reporting that OWS had successfully occupied Times Square drew wild cheers. To celebrate, many moved on to Washington Square Park.  On Sunday, Zuccoti Park was again thronged with people. While some important unions, city board members, and politicians support the movement, the Bloomberg administration still sees OWS as a nuisance to the city and suggests it is just a matter of time before Zuccotti Park is cleared. But despite the nay-sayers, OWS is a force to be reckoned with. Some 900 OWS-inspired demonstrations around the world attest to its power. The movement has started a dialog long overdue in American politics as the country's wealth continues to grow only for the top 1%.

To see more images from my OWS coverage check out my set on Flickr
and collection available through Corbis

Protestors telling people to close their accounts
Protestor at Chase Plaza holding sign for police woman to read
OWS protester in Washington Square Park

"Occupy Wall Street Movement Goes World Wide" on news feed at Times Square

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Gets Personal

The October 11 Millionaires March which began at Central Park stopped at the homes of J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, oil tycoon David Koch, financier Howard Milstein, hedge fund maven John Paulson, and CEO News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch. A symbolic check for $5 billion was left at each home, the size of the impending state tax cut for New Yorkers making $250,000 and more. The march was organized by the Working Families Party, New York Communities for Change, Strong Economy for All, United NY, and members of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It went off without incident. The police were very polite. Some of the doormen showed solidarity with the marchers, but the reaction in the neighborhood was mixed. While many residents stepped aside and took photographs, others seemed bewildered.

The March was so popular that organizers have called for another one on October 12 to Chase Bank's New York office to question why New York State is giving Chase a new tax cut next year. As the marchers made their way back to Zuccotti Park, the police moved into the crowd and made four arrests.

Protest in front of Chase Plaza
This Saturday, October 15, a third action targeting Chase is planned. The Occupy Wall Street website calls the event "Chase's Money Is Ours! Chase Bank uses our money to make profits, but we don't have to let them! Come support Chase customers CLOSING THEIR ACCOUNTS," OWS states.

Events now are being coordinated on a global level via social media. The Occupy Wall Street movement is becoming an international presence.

Many will be watching tomorrow early AM when the police will try to move the people out of the park to clean up. The protestors have called for reinforcements and have no intention of facing what they call an eviction. To see more images check out my set on flickr
Policeman in the crowd at John Paulson's home

Protesters Gather in Central Park

 Protestors in front of Rupert Murdoch Residence

Holly Van Voast, a topless activist  marches on the Millionaire March
Protestors in march passed the Guggenheim Museum
Participant in the  Occupy Wall Street movement arrested 

Participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement arrested 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: Jeffrey Sachs, Yom Kippur and A General Assembly In Washington Square Park

As Occupy Wall Street goes into its third week in Zuccotti Park, the movement is spreading across the country. On Friday, October 7, economist Jeffery Sachs, a Columbia University professor, told protesters that they have the power to affect the next election. Sachs believes candidates don't need Wall Street's billions to run for president because of social media. All a candidate needs now is the 99% behind him. He backed away from supporting President Obama, saying he could do so only if Obama admitted that using campaign funds from Wall Street is the wrong thing to do. Click here to hear Sachs on the $2 billion war chest Obama is trying to raise,  here for the power of social media , and  the money spent on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. * Jeffery Sachs has worked for and supported Monsanto

In the evening, Jewish activist Daniel Sieradski led a Yom Kippur service across the street from Zuccotti Park, Hundreds attended. Before the service, candles were lit for Jewish activists now deceased, including Abby Hoffman.

On Saturday, Occupy Wall Street held its general assembly in Washington Square Park. The police and the parks departments barricaded off the arch, the fountain, the bathrooms and all the grassy areas before the protesters arrived; and then spread through the neighborhood in large numbers. The massive police presence included paddy wagons and motorcycles which lined one of the streets near NYU. While the police prepared to handle a riot, the protesters, over a thousand strong, remained peaceful. Occupy Wall Street keeps pointing out that the police are part of the 99%, even though the NYPD accepted a $4.6 million donation from J.P. Morgan.

Mayor Bloomberg predicted that people will take to the streets if more jobs aren't created.He was right, but I don't think passing the jobs bill would have prevented Occupy Wall Street. Participants in the OWS movement have more than jobs on their minds.  You can read the OWS declaration here.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs in Zuccoti Park
Occupy Wall Street in Washington Sq. Park
Yom Kippur across From Zuccotti Park

Candles for Deceased Jewish Activists

Occupy Wall Street Participant

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Continued

Wall Street barricaded off empty except for NYPD

On Oct. 5, while protesters were holding a rally in Foley Square, the NYC police were barricading off all paths to the Stock Exchange on Wall Street. I photographed the march form Zuccotti Park to Foley Square and then took a subway to Wall Street, thinking i would meet the marchers there. Instead i found lines of metal barricades and loads of police. It became clear to me the marchers weren't going to make it to Wall Street so I left the area and made my way to Zucotti Park, which was full to capacity. For the first time, the park was barricaded. You could get in but only at the corners of the park where police were controlling movement creating a claustrophobic environment.

Protestors in Foley Square
As i was leaving, I witnessed a long procession of cops headed to Wall Street. Something menacing was in the air. When I got back to my base, I read tweets that said ambulances were stationed at the Wall Street bull and cops had attacked protesters. Later on Fox News I saw a report from the front lines: The cops used their batons to strike not only protesters but the media too.

There was footage of protesters knocking over a police motorcycle and trying to enter Wall Street before violence began. Once again the police have their side of the story to justify their heavy-handed tactics. But I wonder why didn't the police let the Occupy Wall Street people march on Wall Street? The crowd was much smaller than the thousands that had marched to Foley Square. The Wall Street offices were closed, so business would not have been disrupted. Had they let the protestors march the streets in the financial district, that would have been that. Instead, countless man hours were spent to make the streets impassible turning downtown NYC into a police state, setting up a situation bound to lead to confrontation.

Is it Police Commissioner Kelly or Mayor Bloomberg calling the shots in this uncharted new chapter of civil disobedience in NYC, a city that is big on law and order? Whoever it is in charge has empowered the protestors once again with their actions. If the whole world wasn't watching, they certainly are now.

To see my images from the Oct 5th march and rally click on my set on Flickr.

Click here to see a slide show and my first hand account from the Brooklyn Bridge on the Atlantic's website .
And here to see video of one of the protestors resisting arrest
 on the Brooklyn Bridge.
And advice given to protesters by Lawyers Guild before the march started

Occupy Wall Street Protestors march to Foley Square

Occupy Wall Street Protestors march to Foley Square

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Protestor in Foley Square