May Day! The Voice Staff's Live Coverage of Occupy Wall Street's M1NYC
Hello and welcome to the afternoon shift of the Village Voice's liveblog of May Day 2012, as the Occupy Wall Street movement calls for a "General Strike" and a day of protests around the city. Our reporters and photographers remain fanned out across the boroughs. We'll continue liveblogging their dispatches right here and bringing you the latest news as it happens. We also invite you follow us on Twitter (@VillageVoice) and you can also follow our correspondents from the scene: Nick Pinto, C.S. Muncy, Victoria Bekiempis, James King, Ben Sin, Sam Levin, John Surico, Robert Sietsema, Tejal Rao, yours truly, and, covering the OWS music events for our sister blog Sound of the City, Maura Johnston.
6:30 PM: We're wrapping up our live coverage of May Day, but you can still follow our writers' tweets here. In the meanwhile, check out this photo of the march on Broadway.
6:10 PM: Steven Thrasher snagged some video of a bizarrely car-less Broadway.
Steven Thrasher says that pedestrians are leaving Broadway, which is closed, and "strolling leisurely in advance of march" as the street is locked off.
5:50 PM:Protesters now marching down Broadway. There's a man dressed as Captain America standing in window, C.S. Muncy says.
Ben Sin reports that New York Taxi Workers Alliance is marching in their taxis.
And Nick Pinto tweets that an immigrant rights group has busted through barricades, creating "some disorder." Graham Rayman tells us that some protesters are headed toward City Hall.
5:21 PM: James King reports that around 50 scooter cops are stationed on 9th Street, apparently waiting for march.
5:05 PM:Graham Rayman tells us: "My source is predicting arrests will begin soon at Union Square. Correction vans are waiting."
Steven Thrasher says: "I saw a LOT of vans on Third Avenue on my bike an hour ago...maybe 50 vans."
And Camille Dodero, who was in the Union Square subway station some 20 minutes ago, noticed around 50 officers inside the station.
4:55 PM: Maura Johnston warns that phone reception is dodgy in Union Square, but Das Racist just took the stage. Nick Pinto recently tweeted: "I'm told the path of the march is double-barricaded all the way down from Union Square. Not unusual for a big march. Some #OWS-ers peeved." Meanwhile, in Seattle, black-clad protestors smashed store windows.
4:15 PM: Earlier in Fort Greene Park, Sam Levin chatted with 19-year-old Ana Leguillou, a senior at Paul Robeson who marshaled the student walkout.
3:50 PM: For your viewing pleasure, Ben Sin shot a clip of Guitarmy serenading cops!
3:40 PM: Nick Pinto tweets that Union Square is so packed "it's hard to move." South access to the park is barricaded. On the south side, "immigrant-rights advocates have the mic on a huge sound system. At the NW corner, I see AFSCME hats and #OWS banners."
3:28 PM: C.S. Muncy was just threatened with arrest at Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue. He says: "I was getting pushed into the sidewalk. I didn't have any place to go. I couldn't go any further. A plainclothes officer in a windbreaker pulls me aside and says: 'You'll be arrested. I've been watching you all day.'" The Voice reached out to the NYPD for comment on this.
Muncy also says that there were three or four more arrests. One man got extremely roughed up, and cops put a shirt over his bloodied face so the crowd couldn't see. Blood then soaked through the fabric, Muncy says.
3:20 PM: More from Rayman: "Some of the police officers have been at Union Square since midnight." Others arrived at 4 AM and still others at noon, he says. The Police Department has jails onsite at Union Square.
3:07 PM: This just in from Graham Rayman: "All arrests at Union Square will be processed at One Police Plaza, police sources say." Rayman explains that there is a series of holding cells in the back of the plaza.
2:55 PM: Robert Sietsema is on the scene in front of St. Vincent's and tells us: "There's about 60 demonstrators walking around in a circle, some of them costumed with bloody bandages. Among them are doctors and nurses who used to work at St. Vincent's before it was closed last year. The average age of the demonstrators is probably 60, with several walking with difficulty with canes and walkers. Clearly, the closing of the hospital has had a devastating impact on many lives."
2:42 PM: James King has kept us in the loop about arrests. Cops say they found a hammer in an occupiers' bag at Sara Roosevelt Park. C.S. Muncy also has more details on the black bloc's attacks on the press, tweeting: "Another protester thre[w] a black paint bomb at a photographer." At least two other photographers also got in fights with black bloc members, who were trying to take their cameras, he says. Muncy explains: "Interaction between the black bloc and the press, it's pretty ugly. I had a couple grab at my lens." He says there are around 600 people in Washington Square Park and a half dozen arrests. Before, at Roosevelt Park, he said that cops had"started grabbing people made a bunch of arrests" before they even got down from the steps onto Houston.
2:17 PM: At the Wildcat rally, Nick Pinto says that scooter cops are "aggressively" herding a woman in a wheelchair. Also, he notes several more arrests -- first, two cyclists, then another individual on Lafayette and Houston, who yelled: "I am not resisting!" C.S. Muncy also just documented several more arrests in Washington Square Park.
1:50 PM: Meanwhile, in front of the Bank of America tower, Ben Sin reports on a small crowd that has gathered to protest, among other things, hydraulic fracturing:
1:43 PM: Sam Levin is at Fort Greene Park, where the student marches have merged. He took video of Paul Robeson and Brooklyn Tech students chanting together:
1:22 PM: Nick Pinto is with the Wildcat March at Houston and 2nd and as promised, they are a tad more aggressive with their message:
1:05: From Sam Levin, a Paul Robeson student holding up the "Bill of Student Rights":
NYC DOE Bill of Student Rights and Responsibilities: Section: 1
Receive courtesy and respect from others regardless of actual or perceived age, race, creed, color, gender, gender expression, gender identity, national origin, immigration status, citizenship, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, political beliefs.
12:35 PM: Sam Levin is walking with students from Paul Robeson High School as they march toward Fort Greene Park. He reports that about "50-60" students are making the trek. Their Mic Check: "The city of New York is shutting this school down after years of neglect..."
12:28 PM: Steven Thrasher is at Brooklyn Technical High School, where students have walked out and commenced their march:
12:08 PM: Victoria Bekiempis is marching with protestors over the Williamsburg Bridge. She reports that "Police took Occupiers' shopping cart, which contained some type of shields. Boos ensued," and that there have been four arrests so far. One of the arrestees, Greg, 21, "says he does not know why arrested. Says not read rights yet":
11:34 AM: Much of the march has wound back to Bryant Park, where people seem to be regrouping and chilling out:
11:18 AM: Contrast:
11:03 AM: James King captures an arrest on 44th Street and 5th Avenue. "Riot cops tackled protester after he ran across 44 St. Not sure what he did. Took 6 cops for 175 lb kid."
10:45 AM: Victoria is in Continental Plaza in Williamsburg, at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. She calls in that, "There are about 200 protestors, and at least 50 or 60 cops. The cops are telling them that [when they cross the bridge] they can't impede pedestrian traffic or bicycle traffic. They are saying no banners are allowed on the bridge. It's a pretty young crowd, but a diverse crowd. There are also people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. Someone has a baby stroller.
Victoria Bekiempis Continental Plaza in Williamsburg
Victoria Bekiempis Continental Plaza in Williamsburg
10:25 AM: Despite schlepping around in the cold and the rain, Voice writers have not lost their sense of humor:
10:10 AM: Victoria Bekiempis is meeting up with a group of protestors leaving Brooklyn and crossing the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan. Meanwhile. Robert Sietsema sends another picture showing that the Voice itself is being barricaded!
Robert Sietsema Free the Voice!
9:45 AM: Robert Sietsema sends this picture from Union Square, confirming that the NYPD has a massive barricade operation going up there.
Robert Sietsema Union Square South with a double barricade
Robert writes: "I don't think I've ever seen so many barricades in 1 place. The barricades are doubled along 14th street and Union Square and are being set up all the way to sixth avenue, not only 1 set but concentric circles of barricades focusing on the stage that's been setup right across from whole foods. Pedestrians coming out of the subway bewildered by the maze." More on his report here.
9:15 AM: The Voice team is now out in full swing. Photographer C.S. is with a flank of about 40 OWS protestors near the Times building, John Surico is at the Bank of America Tower, and Nick Pinto is near Fox News. Staff writer James King is also near the B of A tower, and tweets:
Over at Gothamist, Christopher Robbins (once on our list of the 100 Most Powerless New Yorkers for never being able to get a press pass, but now he has one!) reports that in Bryant Park: " when no one was looking the Parks Dept took away the marijuana banner." Also:
8:55 AM: Ustream now has a live feed up from Bryant Park:
Stream videos at Ustream
8:45 AM: Nick is following a group of pickets approaching the Bank of America tower. He notes that groups of picketers in Bryant Park are preparing to head out to demonstrate against Disney, HSBC, the New York Times, GE, Paulson and Co., Citi, Chase, and Pfizer.
8:30 AM:Nick sends pictures of some of the cast of characters assembling in Bryant Park. This guy is here:
Nick Pinto Will he get stopped-and-frisked?
Also, so is the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. (As a former trombone player, we must say we admire the rain protection over their instruments.)
Nick Pinto Rude Mechanical Orchestra
8:20 AM: Despite a lack of people storming them so far, Les Misérables style, the city is well stocked with police barricades. C.S. noted them at Brooklyn, and John Surico tweets this picture from the Bank of America tower, across the street from Bryant Park. (A little known fact about B of A tower is that it had been the tallest building in the city next to the Empire State Building, so it was downgraded from second to third tallest in the city yesterday with the rise of One World Trade.)
John Surico B of A tower
In Bryant Park, Nick tweets poetically: "Lots of people walking past the park on their way to work. A scabrous scab myself, I judge them not."
8:00 AM: The heaviest commuting hour is underway, and so far, no reports of transportation disruptions. The NYPD police scanner is very quiet, and in lower Manhattan, there have only been a handful of police incidents, all unrelated to OWS. Nick is now in Bryant Park, the base of today's actions, and tweets: "Rainy and cold in Bryant Park. Less than 200 people huddled here so far."
Nick Pinto Bryant Park
6:45 AM: Who's on strike, anyway? The unions organizing tonight's rallies did not call for a General Strike. Some reporters you might expect to be covering May Day -- like Salon's Natasha Lennard, arrested last year while covering OWS as a freelancer for the Times -- won't be filing or even tweeting today in solidarity with OWS. And there's one group of New York workers we certainly expect to be working overtime: umbrella sellers.
6:25 AM: Voice photo contributor C.S. Muncy is on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge, as the NYPD was anticipating OWS might attempt to close the bridge during the morning commute. He tells us, "There's one police car, about 200 feet into the bridge, but that's not at all unusual. There's a news crew under a tent, and they've got all of their gear under the tent. Other than that, it's quiet." C.S. is himself out in the rain, and asked if there's any sign of OWS protestors, replied, "If there are, they are highly concealed. But if there's one thing Occupy protestors are good at, its concealing themselves."steadier around 9am," (with an 80 percent chance it will rain until this evening), these plans might get highly altered as the day goes on.
6:00 AM: Nick has posted an overview of the planned OWS activities around the city today here. However, considering the rolling thunder we're hearing right now, the flash of lightening we saw earlier, and that Weather.com predicts rain showers "through 12pm...becoming
5:30 AM: It's raining right outside our window as International Workers Day gets underway, and we just saw a what was perhaps a flash of lightening? This weather brings to mind previous musings of whether Mayor Bloomberg, with his infinite wealth, may in fact have access to a James-Bond-villain-style weather machine. Still, even if the wet conditions do suppress demonstrator turnout today to the mayor's liking, we suspect there are three camps who will be equally miserable by it: die-hard OWS protestors who are out anyhow, the unionized labor organizers (who are not participating in the General Strike during the day) behind this evening's rallies, and the legions of NYPD cops who have been stationed around the city since 4 AM in the rain.