The NYPD says 12 people were arrested during an Occupy Wall Street march last night held in solidarity with the protesters detained in Oakland over the weekend. At times the march became violent, as several protesters out of the nearly 300 who attended hurled glass bottles and other projectiles in the police's direction, and the NYPD responded by forcefully shoving their way into large crowds of people and arresting those in the vicinity of the bottle-throwers.
On 9th Street between Avenues B and C, protesters gathered in front of the vacant P.S. 64 building, banging on the plywood around the structure. A masked protester standing next to us tossed a bottle that landed in the street and immediately ducked down into the dense crowd. "This guy! This guy threw it!" a man named Charlie screamed at the police. As officers made their way into the crowd, the masked man escaped and they detained Charlie instead. His companion was dumbstruck. "They just arrested my friend. He would never do any of that shit."
On 14th Street between Third and Fourth Avenues, a man in the crowd tossed a bottle near a line of uniformed police officers, and was met quickly by several who wrestled him into handcuffs. Thrusting protesters away from the arrest, NYPD officers knocked over several people in the crowd and a heated confrontation erupted.
The video below shows the scene shortly after police reach the man, and an officer can be seen cursing and lunging at a protester. (Loud profanity makes it NSFW.)
At Second Avenue and 13th Street, a heavily intoxicated man tossed a bottle into the street and was swiftly arrested, with many protesters shouting and pointing at the man so the police could find him in the crowd. Another protester was detained a few minutes later, but it was impossible to tell whether he had thrown anything.
This video shows that man being plucked from the crowd and carried away by police as another violent shoving match occurs in the middle of the street.
From the march's beginning at Washington Square Park, an unusual amount of masked protesters along with the heavy scent of booze contributed to a heightened state of volatility. The instances of projectiles being thrown were met with scorn, outrage and chants of "This is a peaceful protest" by a majority of the protesters. When a can and a bottle were thrown on 14th Street, the crowd was stunned into silence, as New York's Occupy Wall Street protesters have largely shied away from the more aggressive tactics used by their mask-donning West Coast counterparts.
When a masked man began punching the camera of a livestreamer, other protesters urged the police to arrest him. "We're here to promote transparency, and this guy starts hitting my friend's camera," Luke Rudkowski, who shoots for We Are Change, told us. "So I ripped his mask off and start yelling at him, and he just books it off into the crowd." We saw a police officer briefly question the man then immediately release him.
Some of the arrests appeared completely arbitrary. One woman was plucked out of the crowd by police officers strolling in the street and arrested for seemingly no reason. Given the darkness and the density of the crowd, it was at times impossible for the police to differentiate the aggressive protesters from the others.
As we reached the march's end at Tompkins Square Park, a protester who was present at the event's late-night planning session the night before told us that the tactic was never meant to be used. "None of that was supposed to happen," they said, before suggesting, not implausibly, that the transgressors could have been NYPD agents provocateurs "No one said, 'Okay we're throwing bottles tomorrow.' We don't do that."