The six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street began with joy and ended in terror.
A crowd of 500 Occupy activists -- which later swelled to over 1,000 -- gathered at Zucotti Park on Saturday March 17, 2012, for the six-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street and to hold a General Assembly (GA).
There was dancing, chanting and a direct-action training workshop that included education on protest tactics such as "dancing," "melting" and "blocking." Spirits were incredibly high, an almost giddy, fizzy feeling like shaking a can of cream soda.
An unknown protester said, "Dear capitalism, it's not you, it's us. Just kidding, it's you."
As the call-out to re-occupy Zucotti/Liberty Park was spread through text message and the Internet, groups of activists kept arriving at the park during the evening where they were greeted with: "Welcome home!"
The GA announced that, "People are going to be holding the park tonight, warm food and blankets are on the way," and it re-affirmed the call-out for a May Day general strike.
At 9:30 p.m., 500 delegates -- including rabble's publisher Kim Elliott -- from the Left Forum marched from the conference to the park in solidarity.
The crowd of over 1,000 at the park chanted: "1, we are the people, 2, we are the united, 3, this occupation is not leaving!" and sang, "Hit the roads banks, and doncha come back no more, no more, no more, no more, hit the roads banks and doncha come back no more!"
On November 15, 2011, a judge ruled that the Occupy Wall Street occupation at Zucotti Park had to be taken down, stating that the U.S. Constitution does not uphold the right to camp in a public park but stated that the park needs to remain open for "passive recreation 24 hours a day." At roughly 1:00 a.m. that same day, police began clearing the park. Later on that day, the New York Supreme Court issued the injunction ruling against allowing protesters to camp or sleep in Zuccotti Park.
Back at the six-month anniversary park, around 11:30 p.m., a New York police officer announced to the crowd, "If you don't leave the park, you'll be arrested for trespassing." At this point, a group of 100 demonstrators sat down and formed a soft block (the linking of arms) to protect the park and their fellow demonstrators from the police.
Police had earlier warned that no one could erect tent or tent-like structures in the park, nor could anyone sleep there. A tarp was erected in the park and there were a few demonstrators lying down but whether or not they were actually sleeping is unconfirmed.
After this warning, the police began raiding the park, illegally announcing that "the park is closed."
During the raid, media was once again denied access to the park in direct opposition to the 1st Amendment of the United States of America.
In fact, the Daily Kos reported that journalists were not only prevented from doing their job, they were beaten by the police.
Here is a compilation of tweets compiled by different reporters:
BBC reporter Greg Palast's tweet:
"Our photographer ZD Roberts beaten @OWS Zucotti Park by cops. Thrown to ground, hair grabbd, hit with clubs while yelling, I'M PRESS PRESS!"
Palast's photographer Zach Roberts' tweet:
"Fell down, got trampled by 6 people on top of me, cop hit me on my head with baton, pulled hair hit me again on back. Was yelling press"
After all the demonstrators were pushed from the park or arrested, the police encircled the park with metal barricades despite the fact that the setting up of any barricades at Zucotti was already ruled to be a violation of New York City zoning by-laws, hence why the barricades were removed by the city on January 10, 2012. The New York City Administrative Code does not allow the park to be closed according to its own by-laws.
"Tim Cast" on scene at Zucotti/Liberty Park commented, "It looks like the police are going to have to guard the park all night."
Numerous injuries were reported, including that of Cecily McMillian who suffered a grand mal seizure and had her ribs broken during her arrest. The police left her in handcuffs during her 15-minute seizure.
In this video, starting at the 7:06 time mark, you can view McMillian on the ground seizing, the police's reaction and the reaction of the crowd watching. It is quite powerful.
After Occupy Wall Street was kicked out of Zucotti (Liberty) Park, two snake marches took to the street. It was during one of the snake marches that two New York police officers smash a medic's head into a glass door, cracking the glass. Further arrests were made during this breakaway march.
Manhattan District Attorney's office stated 74 people were detained or arrested. It was unclear how many were still in custody late Sunday. According to the New York Police Department, the charges included disorderly conduct, trespassing, assault and resisting arrest.
Due to the many reports of police brutality, @JShahryar tweeted out: "NYPD has gone from being heroes after 9/11 to villains after #OWS. How the mighty fall, eh?"
Here is a link to a petition: Investigate NYPD Violence Against Occupy Wall Street
"The New York Police Department has repeatedly used violence against peaceful protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement. On March 17th, several protesters were hospitalized by police violence. The Department seems to be actively attempting to suppress the nonviolent movement through infiltration, monitoring and violent arrest.
Below is a video by WeAreChange.org of what happened that night.
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