Rally and March with Occupy Wall Street: Dancing Down Broadway

I decided to stick with the music.  There was a drum circle that plays at Liberty Square who were really going on Foley Square during the rally.  They were rather like the entire Occupy Wall Street organization.  Though no one seemed to be the leader, they would improvise together for protracted periods, ending by getting a little quiet and then really loud, all together as one.  There were not only drums of various sorts, including the big plastic paint cans so beloved of street musicians in this city, bells, blocks, a big hanging cymbal, whistles, lots of things.

A young woman whom I have seen at Liberty Square danced around and drew others in, joining peoples’ hands sometimes.  She always smiles.  I did, too.

We were on Foley Square, thousands of us, a sea of us, for several hours.  I remembered the words of an Egyptian activist who had been alone or with only a few others on Tahrir Square many times over the years who was interviewed when there were a million people there.  He was overcome with joy.  I was remembering times when I have been in Foley Square with just a handful of people.  This was so different.  People stretching as far as I could see.

I decided to try to get a grip on the extent of us and did find the northern extreme, but never did get the other end.  On my tour, I ran into a number of the faithful Legal Observers, remarkable by their green caps.

I spoke with one of the women lawyers who, when I thanked her, thanked me.  They always do, but I want them to know how glad I am to see them.  She, too, was excited and we talked for a short while.  She said that the NYPD may have some serious difficulties about the Brooklyn Bridge events.  I was thinking of Jack, who may have been in that sea of people, but whom I never found this time.

I encountered the film writers guild representatives, the teachers union and the nurses union, the adorable and indomitable Grannies, the UAW, among other unions. Everyone was chanting and the spirit was very positive and peaceful, but loud.  I discovered that the music had moved and followed it to their new spot near the court building.

The inscription at the top says:

The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government

On its steps were the Veterans for Peace and the Iraq Veterans Against the War, including a marine in his dress uniform.  Lots of others were all around.  I just stayed really close to the music from then on.  After a time, another group who played jazz standards joined them. I danced and danced.  Everyone near them was dancing, too.

We began to move down the street, slowly because there were so many of us and the NYPD had us penned in between barriers, over to Chambers Street on the north side of City Hall.  I danced and danced.  The musicians played and played.

We went on Chambers over to Broadway and continued down to Liberty Plaza.  It was great fun.  Some people who had been ahead of us stopped at the corners of streets and greeted us with “All day, all week, occupy Wall Street.”  People clapped and cheered each other on.

I could not fail to notice the huge number of police officers and the number of white shirts and plain clothes ones, too.  There were also buses, empty and idle, waiting to take people to jail.  The transit workers, some of them, are objecting to driving their fellow 99%ers to jail, but there were some who were willing.  Things grew more tense as we got close to the Liberty Square.

We marched past it, many of us toward the intersection with Wall Street.  There was no more space designated for us on the street, so we were really crowded on the sidewalk.  The young Occupiers began chanting to the even greater number of NYPD officers:

“Police, join us; they’ll take your pensions, too.”

At no time did I see any protestor make any violent or aggressive action.

When I finally could, I got on the subway to come home.  There were a huge crowd still on Broadway going onto Wall Street.  Only when I got home, did I learn of the brutal attacks of the NYPD on the marchers.


Here is one of the “white shirts” wielding his nightstick on peaceful, defenseless protestors.  The NYPD also pepper sprayed again.

I read that someone tried to remove a police barrier, but it is as likely that someone in that press of people was just pushed into one.  Even if they did, moving a police barrier does not merit a vicious attack.

The Occupiers have been beaten and abused, as Jack has related, on many occasions.  They continue to make music and dance and chant and plan and learn from one another and show us what working together in peace is like.  They continue to ask the police to join them, because they know that police officers are part of the 99% as well.  In fact, the 1% will take their pensions and their jobs when they are no longer useful, without a qualm.

I know that all police officers are not brutal bullies, as I know that all soldiers are not.  The institutions of police and military do, however, attract a disproportionate number of people who are.  Some of these officers have expressed horror at what their colleagues and superiors have done.  Some others have been recorded as saying things like “my nightstick is about to get a workout.”

What I know for sure, what I saw with my own eyes, was peaceful, noisy protestors who are willing to confront the police in order to make a difference.  They don’t fight back physically, but they will not leave.  I admire them more than I can say.

When I did get on the subway, a fat man in a white shirt with his jacket over his arm, probably not a real member of the 1% who don’t usually ride the subway but a wanna be, was complaining to his female companion that  “they should get a job.”  I was so shocked that I said as loudly as I could that they would not be there if there were any jobs.  He replied that there were jobs, and I replied, not so sweetly as the Occupiers would have perhaps, “I would like to see you try to get another job today, Jerk.”  He backed off and said no more, fortunately, but I see that I would need a good deal of training to be as kind to the oppressors as the Occupiers are.


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