The Protester’s Voice: Candid NYPD Interview
by Joseph Wade
Walking toward the protest from the Subway, I passed several police officers standing at barricades around Wall Street. I stopped to ask one of them if they knew a good place to interview some people who worked on Wall Street. The impromptu interview I got was better than I intended.
The officer—a blue-shirt—who’s rank is synonymous with the enlisted ranks in the military, asked me what the movement was doing. “What are they here for?” he asked without giving his name for obvious reasons.
He said it makes sense that protestors want Wall Street to be accountable for their own finances, going on to say that if he has bills, he is expected to pay them. He continued, saying that Wall Street should not have received financial bailouts.
He went on to say that without a large, concentrated presence, Wall Street wouldn’t care about what the movement does. He said that right now, the police are controlling the protest, telling protesters what they can and cannot do, and that until they amass uncontrollable numbers, the movement would not be effective. “They need to march down 5th avenue and 42nd street.” he said.
He didn’t believe protesters would be able to do that with the numbers they currently possess in New York. He also said protesters need to have a concentrated objective—one, or a few demands—not a few ideas here and there. While saying he felt similar sentiments toward Wall Street as a movement, the officer reiterated that the movement did not have enough numbers or organization to do anything useful.
The officer also said the organization needs a structure with a leader, and a ladder of leadership to take over for the movement’s chosen leader, because once a leader is established, police would target that leader for arrest in order to disrupt the movement.
“They need a million people,” he said, adding that if that many marched down 42nd street or 5th Avenue, then the NYPD wouldn’t even try to stop them. He also indicated that if a million people stopped using the subway, the city would be shut down.
The officer said that while he agrees with the the ideology that Wall Street needs to be held accountable, the movement needs to get its act together or it will be ineffective.