With Apple's highly anticipated iPhone 5 set for release tomorrow at 8 a.m., we stopped by the 59th Street store to see where people could wait in line. "Officially we do not recognize any lines," a clerk told us. "But if you go outside you can see some people sitting on the sidewalk." Indeed, on 5th Ave. around 20 people sat in camping chairs emblazoned with the corporate logos of the companies who were giving them free iPhones to promote their businesses. But wrapping around to 58th Street one could find some 15 Occupy Wall Street protesters, protesting Apple's labor practices and the notion that camping on a public sidewalk for capitalism is legal in New York City, but sleeping in dissent on Wall Street is illegal.
This isn't to say the protesters, who along with the compensated line-waiters have been waiting since last night, have been completely unmolested. Several drivers rolled down their windows to tell protesters they "stink," or to "get a job," and before dawn this morning the security guards in charge of managing the line began demanding that the protesters wake up and hand over any cardboard. One guard threatened to "kick" a protester's teeth in, as seen in this video:
"We had a problem with the cardboard this morning—the building supervisor and the head of security," one guard told us. "As far as I know they're not allowed to have cardboard." Why? He shrugged. "The building manager doesn't like it. But I've just been told to keep them quiet, make sure they don't make any noise. I haven't gotten any instructions about cardboard." This video tells a different story:
It's difficult to see the distinction between protesters sleeping across from Wall Street being arrested, while those who sleep in the line for a smartphone that could boost the GDP by 0.05% are shrugged off as devoted, if geeky Apple fans. "We're afraid to go downtown and do this because we'll be arbitrarily arrested or beaten," protester Milo Gonzalez said. "But if we lay here, we're just being good consumers."
As the hour wore on, more people joined the line, and more barricades were erected to separate it from the sidewalk. "Best case scenario is that we sell our spots in line to make a few hundred bucks," Gonzalez said. Shiloh Coral, who was wearing a tweed blazer and leggings, said she hoped to buy some clothes with the money. "I have to look good and clean—I have a job interview tomorrow!"