Yesterday, several hundred Occupy Wall Street demonstrators gathered in Union Square to protest police brutality and the destruction of Occupy Wall Street encampments nationwide. One of the most impassioned speakers to address the crowd was former Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis, who was arrested on November 17th on the one month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Speaking of his arrest, "I heard that you were standing up for what you believed in and I was so inspired that I left my retirement—a sort of Walden Pond lifestyle—to support Occupy Wall Street. I did not intend to get arrested that day," he said. "That you were willing to risk your own personal welfare inspired me. I have but one last thing to say: Don't you ever stop inspiring me!"
Actor and activist Susan Sarandon delivered a brief message to supporters, "If we disagree on the answers it is essential that we demand the right to ask the questions," she told a roaring crowd. "This is what democracy looks like!" The rally was held on the eve of today's national day of solidarity. Demonstrations taking place in over 70 cities nationwide specifically target the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 501c3 group that counts legislators and corporations as members so they can draft legislation together that affirms "liberty."
Sarandon then handed the mic over to Peter Yarrow, the folk singer best known as part of Peter, Paul and Mary who wooed the crowd with a tearful rendition of "The Great Mandala."
The crowd swelled to approximately 300 before a relatively peaceful march to Zuccotti Park—though some protesters heckled police and questioned the necessity of police motorcade. "Do you have any idea how much money the police department has spent on overtime since Occupy started? Nearly half a billion dollars," lamented Danny Meyers, former president of the NY chapter of the of the National Lawyers Guild.
By 8:00 p.m. occupiers had reached Zuccotti Park and baited the police by lying down on the ground, an act no longer permitted in the park. It was only a matter of time before the NYPD happily took the bait.