NEW YORK—On Nov. 15, Wall Street’s front man, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched an early-morning blitzkrieg-style police raid on Zuccotti Park, the site of the two-month old Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. New York’s “thugs in blue” evicted and arrested some 250 non-violent protestors at 1 a.m. and seized their possessions. The growing OWS “people’s library” was thrown into a dumpster.
Nine journalists were arrested while covering the raid, some assaulted and thrown to the ground while displaying city-issued press passes. A New York 1 TV reporter, Lindsey Christ, said, “Those 20 minutes were some of the scariest of my life.” Rosie Gray, a Village Voice reporter, recounted telling a cop, “I’m press!” The officer responded, “Not tonight.”
Legal observers were also not allowed in the Park during the raid. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York ACLU called it part of a planned “media blackout.”
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the mostly Hispanic Washington Heights, claimed he was bloodied by a police club blow to the head and thrown to the ground by police goons as he approached Zuccotti Park three blocks away.
Court action against the eviction by the N.Y. Lawyer’s Guild won a Temporary Restraining Order, later overturned the same day by Michael Stillman, another State Supreme Court Judge. The ruling declared that the park’s rules against overnight camping—added after the occupation began—were reasonable. Protesters were allowed back, but not allowed to sleep there. The Transport Workers Union Local 100, an early union backer of OWS, also took court action against the eviction, but without success.
Since OWS began Sept. 17, about 1700 OWS protesters have been arrested and, of those, almost all are out of jail awaiting trial on misdemeanors. Mayors and top cops across the country have recently held several conference calls on how to handle OWS. Clearly, the U.S. ruling elite is terrified at the prospect of European-style mass strikes and worker protests.
Early on, President Obama said OWS reflected “broad-based frustration” with the economy. After the New York raid, an Obama spokesman said, “It’s up to New York and other municipalities to decide how much force to use in dealing with OWS demonstrations,” giving Bloomberg back-handed support.
Moreover, constant warnings about dire OWS so-called “quality of life” were raised by Bloomberg and in corporate media reports. Yet, most were issues that were not the fault of OWS or were in the process of being addressed. The complaints were in sharp contrast to Wall Street’s real-life indifference to inequality and poverty, urban filth, and the lack of proper health care for millions of New Yorkers—conditions OWS fought to overcome!
On Nov. 17, over 30,000 demonstrated in Foley Square, near City Hall, as part of an OWS-initiated national “day of action.” The raid two days before had galvanized trade unionists, which added to the rage against massive attacks on public workers.
In the morning of the 17th, about 170 protesters were arrested in a non-violent attempt to “Shut Wall Street down.” Another 60 or so were arrested later in the day, according to a National Lawyer’s Guild observer.
Later, teams of OWS supporters rode trains to the rally. On the way, the teams testified about their oppression as workers to other riders. Present at the rally were the United Federation of Teachers, 1199 SEIU, the Hospital workers, as well as contingents from the TWU, the United Auto Workers, and 32 BJ SIEU, building services workers.
The spirited rally culminated in tens of thousands of demonstrators marching over the Brooklyn Bridge to signify work needed on our decaying infrastructure. OWS provided small LCD lights. A giant Batman-style beam was projected onto the side of the union-busting Verizon phone company building, which simply read, “99%.”
> The article above was written by Marty Goodman, and first appeared in the December 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.