On November 5th, a group of our moveon council went down to 140 Broadway and Zuccotti Park where we marched to Foley Square with OWS. It was a beautiful fall day and everything appeared peaceful.As we marched, the mood was optimistic, with cars tooting their horns in approval and onlookers watching in excitement and puzzled interest. It soon became clear that the protesters were being hoarded and directed the entire way by the police. This was okay, since our intentions were not to obstruct traffic, but to hold a gathering at the front of the Justice Building to discuss Bank Regulation and other grievances.
As we approached Foley Square, the police continued to guide us towards the steps of the justic department. The group of over 1,000 was seperated as only a few hundred could stand on the sidewalk infront of the steps (No one dared to go into the streets, for fear of arrest). The rest of the crowd gathered in a public space across the street. The mood of the crowd shifted from jubilance to confusion as people debated whether or not to sit down.
Our group was on the side of the Justice Building, and as we looked around we realized that the police had us surrounded. The crowd, unsure of what to do began to break down. The police used this opportunity to enclose us even more. Fearing arrest, the Westchester group started for the public space. We asked a policeman if we would be allowed to leave and he told us that we should leave now because things were going to get hairy (paraphrased). At this point, the crowd was still peaceful and there were no real indicators that anyone would be arrested except by pressure from the police. This policemans statement indicated that arrest was the intention and not a result. Quite upsetting.
The arrests happened shortly after. Our group had been separated and Marjorie was able to witness one arrest. A woman had been caught in between the protestors and the police and was ‘dragged’ and arrested by the cops. While one or two of the arrests were clearly intentional, most were completely uncalled for.
The intentions of this protest was to hear stories of those victimized by banks and to discuss back-room deals that are going on in Washington right now. The police were effectively able to staunch our right to assemble, by using such claims that we were blocking pedestrian traffic in a completely empty area. It’s hard not to come away frustrated when you watch your rights be taken away. I think what we all came away with on this protest march was the movement of our democratic country into something of a police state.