Over 700 Arrests: The Protest Grows, Organizes, Marches Onward
By Joseph Wade
The Occupy Wall Street movement will grow; a permitted, solidarity march is being held on Wednesday. Coming to the march are labor unions, students and the protesters who have been encamped in Liberty Plaza for more than two weeks now. The Solidarity March is scheduled to begin at 3:00pm at Libery Plaza and meet at 4:30pm at City Hall.
The addition of union support is expected to bring strength and momentum to the rapidly growing movement that has centers across the nation, including Chicago and San Francisco.
Mike Riley, a 44 year old protester from Queens who has been with movement almost since its inception said support for the movement has come from as far away as New Zealand, with people sending a myriad of needed items, including: a solar charger, tarps, sleeping bags, blankets, scarves, American flags, cash, money orders and more. “Over 150 packages came today,” he said.
Riley said many of his friends are coming to the march on Wednesday, one from as far away as Canada, others from upstate New York and New York City.
Amidst the rapid growth, people at Liberty Plaza are orginizing according to their skill sets. At the front end of the encampment, Daniel Levine, a 22 year old student at Baruch College, manages the information booth. New arrivals come to the booth to ask where they can help and Levine sends them to different places: the media center, the outreach center, the kitchen and to bathrooms if need be. He even keeps up with which bathrooms around Liberty Plaza have the shortest lines.
One person seeking information asked Levine how long the protest would go on. Levine smiled and said, “More than 18 days,” this being the number of days that the protest at Liberty Plaza has been going.
In the center of the encampment, where the makeshift kitchen is, it certainly looks like like the protesters can hold out as long as they want. The amount of food there is astounding. Volunteers were tearing apart packages as fast as they could, preparing the newly shipped food for protesters as they lined up. The food included granola bars, cookies, pitas, dips, pizza and more.
Further into the encampment, a booth boasted professional life coaches who were there to offer protesters help in formulating ideas. Michael Badger, 38, who studied at the University of Berkley, volunteers at the booth. He said the volunteers don’t try to guide anyone to specific ideas. Instead, they ask questions to help protesers arrive at their own conclusions and establish a strong and confident voice. “We’re seeing people want to be clear and make changes,” Badger said.
Badger went on to say he had been at the march that was recently stymied by police when the marchers tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, October 1st. Many news sources say 700 protesters were arrested. “There were thousands of people,” Badger, who participated in the march, said. He said the there was room for traffic to pass when they were marching across the bridge and that some protesters started saying, “Wow, we must have a permit, look at how they’re helping [the police had orginized the roadway].”
“And then everything stopped.” Badger said.
He said that people were “freaking out” as the the NYPD began surrounding the marchers with orange netting, the same tactic police used last time they made arrests. Badger said people were scared because they were trapped and on a bridge. “People started yelling for everyone to sit to keep peace,” he said.
The police took badger to the Bushwick precinct. As he was being released, Badger said the police were appreciative of what they werre doing. “Four cops said thank you, we really appreciate this. One said thank you, God bless you. I have no beef with the cops over it [the arrests].”
Badger did note that he never heard an order to disperse during the march. “They [NYPD] created a lane for traffic and I walked in another lane,” he said.
For more information on what Badger and his coworkers do, visit their website at http://www.visionaries.co