By Katherine Bromberg, New York Civil Liberties Union
Earlier this week, from New York City to Oakland, tens of thousands took to the streets to Occupy on May Day. News reports indicate that in New York City alone more than 30,000 people rallied and protested. The New York Civil Liberties Union had 20 legal observers stationed across the city who reported live updates and photos for our Twitter feed. Because we are well aware that those in the movement regularly rely on our reporting and materials about their rights, we also distributed our “What to Do if You Are Stopped by the Police” and “Your Right to Demonstrate” pocket cards.
The NYPD response to the protest was moderate for the majority of the day, with some exceptions including: executing old warrants to target and question protesters; interfering with journalists, including at least one arrest; the use of excessive force, including striking peaceful protesters with batons; and the use of extensive barricading and efforts to break up and disperse marches in the evening hours. Reports indicate that there were some 90 arrests overall, over the course of the day.
After a day of marches, gatherings, and other activities, a mile long march of Occupiers, unions, students, musicians, artists, and countless others marched down Broadway in solidarity, finally gathering at Veteran’s Park, which is conveniently located at the ACLU and NYCLU’s doorstep.
Despite some obstacles that Occupiers faced, OWS deemed May Day a great success, and we at the NYCLU are always pleased about opportunities to educate New Yorkers about their rights! For more information about rights while demonstrating, you can visit NYCLU’s www.OccupyYourRights.org or check out the ACLU’s “Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protest” guide online.
If you have stories about police mistreatment of protesters and journalists in New York, please forward your stories, pictures, and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about local ACLU affiliates involvement with Occupy movements around the country, check out our map.