Occupy Wall Street March Goes From Peaceful to Ugly

Nurse Marget Sweeney holds a sign pledging support for Occupy Wall Street. On Oct. 5, labor unions joined Occupy Wall Street protesters in a large march in Lower Manhattan. AP/Craig Ruttle.

On Oct. 5, the 20-day old Occupy Wall Street protest had its largest march yet.

Fifteen unions and 24 progressive organizations joined an estimated 5,000 people in a peaceful march in Lower Manhattan. But around 8:45 p.m., a group of about 150 protesters led an impromptu march from Zucotti Park — the protester’s home base — to Wall Street. When a group of about 25 people attempted to jump over police barricades in order to access Wall Street, the scene turned ugly after police reportedly responded with pepper spray and batons.

At 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, crowds gathered in Foley Square, just north of City Hall, to hear leaders from some of the largest worker’s unions speak about economic inequality, corporate greed and the relationship between banks and the U.S. government.

“Every one of us is here because of corporate greed,” shouted Christopher Shelton, vice president of the regional branch of the Communication Workers of America, reported the Los Angeles Times. “It’s time not to occupy Wall Street, but to take back Wall Street.”

In attendance were heads of the AFL-CIO, Working Families Party, United Auto Workers and national Nurses United, among others. After the speeches, the march slowly made it’s way back to Zucotti Park, where thousands of new recruits ate and sang among seasoned protesters.

Later in the day, when a small group of protesters tried to storm Wall Street, which has been blocked off to the public since the protest began on Sept. 17, police responded quickly. Twenty-eight people were arrested, while others waited nervously in the park, reported the New York Post. The scene became particularly violent when police began spraying pepper spray into the the midst of the skirmish, and one white-shirted officer swung his police baton wildly, the paper reported. The scene within Zucotti Park became tense as well, as police entered the square, while other officers barricaded the perimeter. Democracy Now has a video of police entering a tent and arresting activists inside.

A Fox 5 News anchor was hit in the stomach with a baton, and a cameraman was maced, reported Fox News.


In this video a senior NYPD official appears to swing his baton into the Occupy Wall Street crowd on Oct. 5. Youtube/jgoodwin333.

The Occupy Wall Street protests, which began with about 1,000 people on Sept. 17, have increasingly grown in size, spreading out to 60 other cities across the country. Click here to see a map, created by Mother Jones.

Media coverage was initially limited and multiple news organizations mocked the protesters, claiming they were generally disorganized and uninformed. However, as the protests have grown in size, media coverage has taken the protest more seriously, focusing on the organized system the protesters have created within Zucotti Park to feed, inform and house hundreds of people. Click here for the New York Times‘ breakdown of life within the park. On Oct. 5, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff wrote on CNN that the protests aren’t going away anytime soon, and that they’re largely informed by the viral tendencies and sustainable structure of the Internet.

Supporting Rushkoff’s point about the longevity of the protests, the New York Times reported on the failure of the government’s homeowner debt reduction program, and the refusal of major banks to forgive debts of people facing foreclosure.

In Washington D.C., politicians are beginning to take the protest seriously, and some Democrats are voicing solidarity with the protesters, to the dismay of some of the protesters themselves, reported The Hill.

“That’s what Democrats do. They pretend to be populists,” protester Margaret Flowers told The Hill.

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