At least ten protesters were arrested last night as nearly 1,000 people gathered in Zuccotti Park for a march on City Hall in solidarity with protesters injured at Occupy Oakland on Tuesday. But the march soon broke off into several different marches, with pockets of a few hundred protesters parading in various directions, occasionally clashing with police as they jubilantly flooded the streets of Soho, Greenwich Village, and Union Square. In Tribeca, some rowdy protesters trashed Franklin Street, as this video shows:
All of the demonstrators made several loops around City Hall, shouting "New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York!" before splintering off in different directions. One group headed up Broadway and turned west on Bleecker, before heading north again on MacDougal. "There was traffic backed up on MacDougal, and a few cops were trying to set up a barricade with their scooters, and we just marched right through them," Harlem resident Harry W. told us. "Then we started heading up Sixth Avenue, and they tried to kettle us, but we moved potted plants, trash cans, whatever into the road and they couldn't do it." While the group was in the West Village, they even marched through the set of Gossip Girl.
As that faction made their way back down Broadway, one protester was shoved to the ground by an NYPD officer on a scooter, held down, but then rescued by his fellow activists. He declined to be named, saying only that he was a mental health and substance abuse counselor from Washington Heights. "I was marching in the street, and he drove the wheel up between my legs. Then he pushed me down and I was on my back." Once on the ground, the protester "went limp, and the cops were all holding me down. Not hitting me, but then I felt a tugging at my arms, and they all pulled me out. The [NYPD] were outnumbered, and I ran." Here's video of the NYPD making arrests:
Another group marched down Centre after hitting City Hall, and encountered a massive NYPD presence at Reade Street. In one instance, protesters ripped the orange netting used to "kettle" crowds for arrest out of the officers' hands. One man was violently shoved to the ground and arrested while another sat in the police wagon with a battered and bloody face.
However, in many cases the NYPD declined to arrest protesters who seemed to be trying to force a confrontation. We witnessed one officer move three protesters who had locked arms and were prepared for arrest from the street back onto the sidewalk. Others who were screaming at police in the middle of the street got a firm shove and a scolding. When the nets were used, they were deployed on street corners to prevent groups from joining one another, cutting the size and the intensity of the demonstration. We also noted a conspicuous lack of the white-shirted higher-ups who have become somewhat notorious for their heavy-handed tactics. Here's more raw footage, from Jeff Seal:
After another arrest in Soho, that particular group crossed Houston and seemingly into a world without police. Walking up Mercer, and then returning to Broadway for the trek to Union Square, we encountered a single NYPD cruiser and two plainclothes officers, as protesters walked against traffic, with horns honking in support. Once at Union Square, the NYPD seemed to almost outnumber the few hundred protesters, who then returned to Zuccotti Park.
"The important thing is we marched peacefully," the substance abuse counselor told us. "This was to show that we were with our comrades in Oakland, and we succeeded." He ducked into a store for a bite to eat, as a large circle of demonstrators hummed the Om Mantra in unison. The drummers were still silent.