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

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