Several thousand climate protesters shut down a 10-block stretch of lower Broadway yesterday for nearly seven hours as part of the Flood Wall Street actions, which culminated in the arrests of 102 demonstrators.

Those arrests occurred at around 7 p.m., long after organizers had planned on surrounding the Charging Bull statute on Broadway. During similar demonstrations under the Bloomberg administration, protesters could count on being detained by the NYPD minutes, if not seconds after stepping into the road and blocking traffic (or for doing nothing at all).

"Bill de Blasio says he supports this stuff but then he expects us to do stuff to the protesters," one police officer patrolling Battery Park said. "It's confusing, right?"

The officer, who was chatting with a People's Climate March staffer who stuck around for Flood Wall Street, added, "There's no terrorists [in the protest], terrorists don't care about this stuff. But there are professional agitators in there, so those are the people you have to watch."

It was clear that the NYPD was determined to take a different approach, even if it meant giving many of those professional agitators more leeway.

When a man attempted to lasso Charging Bull and failed, he wasn't tackled and dragged over the barricade as Ray Kelly's police department may have demanded. The cops just took his rope.

When the giant balloons, representing planet-choking CO2, bounced through vehicular traffic, the police didn't try to stop them, though once they floated over the barricades they were destroyed with gusto.

Flood Wall Street CO2 Bubble Deflation from Gothamist on Vimeo.

Another protester who was shoving barricades back against a phalanx of officers at Wall Street and Broadway was grabbed by police then tossed back over into the road, in the manner of catch-and-release.

"They could have gotten me ten times, but they didn't," the man said. "They don't want to arrest anybody."

Still, many of the softer means of containing public speech and assembly perfected by the NYPD over the past decade were still visible.

Thousands of metal barricades turned a good portion of the Financial District into a maze. The credentialed media, snug in their First Amendment pen away from the action, were prevented from getting an unobstructed look at the arrests themselves. Wall Street, with its rich symbolism for those linking climate change to corporate avarice and political corruption, was completely off-limits to the demonstrators.

The police were willing to use pepper spray to prevent the march from walking onto Wall Street, discharging it into the crowd after the struggle at the barricades ensued at around 4 p.m.

"There was no warning, I just turned my head and got sprayed in the face," Evan Donovan said, Maloxx still dripping from his face shortly after the incident. Donovan, 22, who came to the protests from Boston, said being pepper sprayed wouldn't deter his activism.

"If anything I feel a greater need to do something. If this is how it goes when people go out on the street to express themselves, we need to do something."

Ann Puddu, a retired sixth grade teacher from Manhattan, said she'd leave the pepper spraying up to the younger generations.

"The police don't want to deal with me. To them I'm just some old lady," Puddu said. "But your generation is starting to ask questions. My generation started doing that, but then we all went about making money. But you all are doing it and it's wonderful."

If one of Flood Wall Street's goals was to use a prime piece of Manhattan's public space to highlight the issue of our all-but-certain-doom, they achieved it for most of the day. At times Broadway felt like a block party. Soccer games followed pizza deliveries.

By 7, Bratton had had enough. The dozens of protesters who aimed to be arrested hours before finally "got their wish," and ignored five dispersal orders, their peers cheering and singing from behind the barricades.

Sue McKenzie, who traveled to the protests from Alberta with her husband Len Ring, said that she was heartened by the turnout from the People's Climate March.

"It's probably the biggest issue we have right now," she said of global warming. "Just on the news the other night was a report about how insurance claims were increasing in Alberta because of climate change."

McKenzie still felt that something was missing.

"I'm at Flood Wall Street because I want to get close enough to feel what it's like to be arrested," she said. "I've been going to protests for fifty years, and I've always regretted not being arrested. Now my kids are grown, I have a stable home, what have I got to lose? Why shouldn't I be arrested?"

Additional reporting by Nick Pinto.