Approximately 3,000 protesters from across the country amassed in New York City’s financial district to celebrate Occupy Wall Street’s one year anniversary. Refusing to be deterred by the barricades and checkpoints that precluded them from entering the area by the New York Stock Exchange, protesters broke into numerous roving marches, chanting, singing and throwing confetti. The NYPD’s response to many of these marches was more tempered than previously observed in other Occupy protests, and a fair number of arrests were the result of civil disobedience.
However, as the day wore on, there were numerous accounts of protesters being plucked off the sidewalk seemingly without cause, and, where tensions grew high and the crowds of police and protesters were the thickest, even journalists were pulled off the sidewalk and forcefully arrested when they were unable to move in compliance with police orders. There were also many accounts of journalists and legal observers being forcefully pushed away from scenes of arrests, denying them the opportunity to observe and photograph the scene or obtain the names of arrestees.
By late afternoon, the scene was considerably more relaxed as protesters sang, danced and socialized in a barricaded Zuccotti Park with minimal police or security incursions. It was not until later in the evening that police began to set up powerful spot lights around the park and embarked on a few sweeps with dozens of officers in riot gear to stringently enforce park rules against drums, backpacks, and lying down, forcefully arrest several peaceful individuals, and even assault a New York City Council member.
On the whole, however, protesters expressed great satisfaction with their actions and ended their day enjoying the renewed solidarity between protesters of all ages, races and backgrounds in the place where it all began – Zuccotti Park.
The NYCLU launched the Free Speech Threat Assessment Project in order to document these and other accounts of the NYPD’s aggressive policing of protest. Follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds to learn when we post a new report, so you can see what we are seeing on the streets and help us to continue to call for accountability and for respect of the right to protest in New York City.