May Day 2012, Occupied

Recounting yesterday’s events seem like the perfect opportunity to start this thing.

Lead up to yesterday was a nail biter. Past month, those of us who rely more on experience than on faith wondered if enough people would show, if we were setting ourselves up to be the Post‘s laughing stock. The morning’s rain did not help.

Met up with a friend and headed up to Bryant. By that time, the sun was shining through the clouds and the weather had become ideal for walking through the city all day with thousands of other people for eight or nine hours.

Even at noon, well before the call time for the  march, Bryant was full. Not shoulder to shoulder yet, but at the same time it was single file getting through the crowd.

Mic check calls–police had kettled in an immigrant solidarity march and they were looking for people to support from the other side; another group needed help in front of the Bank of America branch nearby. Friend and I jokingly agreed not to get arrested until after five. But there wasn’t a whole lot going on at that point, so we jumped on the F down to the Wildcat strike on Chrystie and Houston.

Getting out of the station, police vans were lined on both sides all the way up the block, NYPD almost doubled the protesters. Walking through, noticing the cops casually swinging their nightsticks, but in a way that you could tell they wouldn’t argue if someone happened to walk into and Friend pointed out that they’re dying to use all that combat training on Randall’s Island to crack some hippie skull. Something very weird about getting used to leaning against a signpost, knowing there’s a guy with a gun and wooden nightstick standing behind me who’d be very happy to use both if I move the wrong way.

We were by the curb, so we got to see the cops’ split second face change when those at the top of the steps unfurled a huge banner that said, “Fuck the Police.” Priceless. Hey, if that’s the worst thing they hear all shift, it’s probably a pretty good day.

Not a lot was going on and as we turned to go back into the station, the march to Washington Square started. Debated saying fuck it and joining in before deciding that the cops were just going to fuck with them and it was too early; safety would be in number. Cops would already be pissed, no use in being easy pickings for their quota.

Back up at Bryant and now it was too packed to do more than find a place to stand. March itself was pretty fantastic and made me feel good again after a long winter’s nap. Had our “escorts” (what else do you call two rows of motorbikes and a line of cops on foot on each side of the street and shutting down traffic while we’re on the sidewalk?) but nothing unusual. I’ve learned to look for the zip ties on their belts if they’re serious about arrests and not to worry until they start standing around like they know what they’re doing.

Got to Union Square just as the speakers were finishing up and I left to get some coffee, passed two separate protests–one in front of the movie theater, other in front of Strand (both are working under no contract). Back up and by that time, the entire park was getting squeezed in.

We were joined by the unions for the march to Wall Street. Low estimates seeming to be in the 20-thousand range, higher in the 40. And that was just here.

Cut out by Wall, right before everything ended. I know there were arrests after, but wasn’t around for that.

Yesterday was good, very much the reawakening I had hoped for.

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