Voices from Zuccotti Park: why arenâ€
JAISAL NOOR, JOURNALIST: In New York Thursday, activists, students, and organized labor held a day of action to mark the Occupy Wall Street movement’s two-month anniversary. Hundreds of protesters kicked off the day by descending on New York’s financial district to try and shut down the stock exchange. Demonstrators, including Julia Henchu, used direct action to disrupt pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
JULIA HENCHU, OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: I hopped around between a few different intersections, and I knew at some point we were holding four or five intersections. People were sitting down in the center of intersections. There was one that I was a part of where people were starting to tell their stories using the People’s Mic as a way to pass time. We were using soft blocks to block traffic–pedestrian traffic and traffic in the street.
NOOR: The New York Police Department responded by arresting dozens, blocking off main streets completely, and allowing only stock exchange employees with work IDs onto Wall Street itself. Protester Anthony Romero says police used violence against peaceful protesters.
ANTHONY ROMERO, OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: And they just beat up another protester. It’s about the fifth protester that I seen them beat up today. When I tell you they beat him up, they beat him up using billy clubs. Severe. To me, it was severe. I ain’t never seen nothing like it in my life, and I think it’s a shame, ’cause they really weren’t doing nothing.
NOOR: Many workers complained of being unable to reach work on time. Although the stock exchange opened as usual at 9:30, Alejandro Carvalho says the police response played into the protesters’ favor.
ALEJANDRO CARVALHO, OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: The NYPD helped us do our job. We wanted to shut down Wall Street and its surroundings, and they helped us achieve the mission, achieve the task. We divided in many, many clusters of action to block the different entrances to the pit–Nassau, Broadway, and Wall Street, where the stock exchange is, all barricaded, all getting IDs, checkpoints, choppers on the air. So this is what a police state looks like, guys. Well, this is going to be a long day. We’re making it tough for them.
NOOR: Police made further arrests as protesters marched back to Zuccotti Park to prepare for the day’s other events. They culminated with over 30,000 people rallying at Foley Square and then marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. Here are some of their voices.
CALL: Billions for bankers!
ANSWER: Hell no!
CALL: Bailouts for workers!
ANSWER: Hell no!
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: I’d like to see Occupy Wall Street spark a mass working class movement that can actually fight back against the capitalist attacks. I think it’s vital for organized labor to take part. Unfortunately, the union leadership has mostly given token support. My union was out for its own rally on the 15th but didn’t hand out a single flier for this. That’s CW Local 100.
CROWD: Education is a right! Fight, fight, fight!
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: We’re here because in the midst of an economic crisis, when they’re saying that there’s no money, billions of dollars are going every day towards occupation, to CEOs, to prisons, and they’re saying there’s no money for education, they’re saying there’s no money for health care, they’re saying that there’s no money for us. But we see even the police apparatus that’s crushing down on us, we fund them with our tax dollars, and what’s going on? What’s going on is that they’re crushing common people just like us, dissenters. We have every right to be here and express our discontent with the way our tax dollars are being spent, with what the government is doing, and this is how we’re repaid. If this were Iran right now, there’d be a UN resolution. But this is America, and we’re Americans getting crushed, beat with batons, tear-gassed, all over the country.
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: Yup. They are criminalizing political protest. That’s what we see here today. Today, thousands, tens of thousands of people came out because they’re upset at the 1 percent, this crisis of priorities that the 1 percent has and the way they’re using our tax dollars. And apparently banks are too big to fail, but people are not. Our education is not valuable. That’s why we’re here today, Students United for a Free Community, because we think education is a right, health care is a right, affordable housing is a right. And that’s why we’re here today. And we condemn the cops that came out today with all those horses, we condemn the buses of people that they just arrested, and we condemn the thousands of cops that they sent out in riot gear treating us like we’re criminals for our political positions.
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: I’m here to protest a racist, patriarchal system that privileges the rights of the wealthy over everybody else.
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: I’m here ’cause I come from a family that’s been in this country for a very long time and taken advantage and exploited a lot of people. And as someone who’s grown up with wealth because of that, I know that redistribution is part of living in a healthy society, and I want to live in that society.
OCCUPY WALL STREET PARTICIPANT: My hopes are for people to start reading the signs that people are holding, start reading the letters that people have wrote, and start listening to the blogs and all the information, and you’ll start to open your eyes, and we’ll all come up with permanent structures and solutions that the police can’t come and knock down, because we’ll own those, and the police will be in violation at that point.
NOOR: Reporting for The Real News and FSRN, this is Jaisal Noor in New York.
End of Transcript
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