New York police officers detain and search hundreds of thousands of people every year under its stop-and-frisk law, a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment and a form of racial profiling. It’s the official policy of the NYPD to harrass, intimidate and bully citizens into submission, the vast majority of them minorities.
As the video above shows, some police officers have troubled consciences when their Captain tells them, “We’re gonna go out there and violate some rights!” and “We want 250’s [the Stop, Question and Frisk report form]!” And others, like the ones recorded by young Alvin, seem to relish the permission to unleash their sadistic urges.
Today the Associated Press reports that New York City Council will begin hearings on stop-and-frisk on October 10. Repeal seems unlikely, and it’s uncertain exactly what reforms will be considered.
Occupy Wall Street held a 300+ person public action meeting at One Police Park Square, the NYPD headquarters, while several dozen officers watched. The stern-faced officers were privy to the details of the plan for S17 before it even kicked off.
It was one of Occupy Wall Street’s most elaborately planned non-violent direct actions to date. The Shut Down Wall Street plan called for splitting protestors between four major zones in downtown Manhattan and effectively disrupting the financial district.
Groups of protestors met early in the morning in predetermined places to disperse into the four zones, designated Eco, Education, Debt and the 99%. Each zone represented the major objectives Occupy has organized to change: the behaviors of Banks, Lobbies, Corporations, the NY Stock Exchange and Wall Street.
There is strength and critical mass in one giant group, yet OWS tried a different strategy: four groups scattered and roving in random directions in an effort to create more confusion and chaos. Separating into four groups was a bold tactical risk because it diluted the strength of the protest. The splitting tactic demonstrated the growing confidence organizers have gained since the Occupy movement began a year ago.
Authorities attempted to keep the NY Stock Exchange, Wall Street, and banks open, but the roving protest groups challenged their resources. Hundreds of NYPD officers were pulled between sites and constantly needed to be on the move to keep up. Unpredictable roving protests challenged logistics and communications, both for protestors and police. Authorities were deployed in advance to block access to key sites, because it was not certain when a group would show up. Barricades, foot patrol, mounted police, motorcycle police and vehicles clogged major arteries and snarled traffic. When blocked from proceeding, protestors countered by circling intersections.
Photographs and video footage show Wall Street, the NY Stock Exchange, Pine and Exchange Streets and other streets closed off, as well as barricaded and restricted access to corporations and banks (except for ID carrying employees). It shows that business was anything but business as usual on S17. Protestors may have been blocked from the targets they most wanted to reach, such as the Stock Exchange. But police themselves essentially completed the task protestors had set out to do–impede the normal flow to the point of shutdown.
In addition, there were the props of street theater and good visuals for press. Chalk slogans and messages were drawn at critical junctures. A five-foot “Debt Boulder” rolled over and through the crowd. A slick body guard cleared a path for a Transformers-like character called the “Bain Capital Job Eliminator.” Lady Liberty marched along with colorful dancers, and the baseball team of the One Percent–the Tax Dodgers–paraded with their cheerleaders the Corporate Loopholes. And of course there was no shortage of signs expressing the feelings of the 99%.
It wasn’t the intent of OWS to close the stock market, prevent banks from transferring funds or stop corporations and lobbies from business operations. The NY Stock Exchange opened on time and closed promptly at 4pm, despite barricades, police and protests. There was no interruption in the electronic ticker tapes, which closed down 40 points at the bell.
But there was no doubt everyone knew OWS was back, on the street and in Zuccotti Park again, even if it wasn’t a permanent Occupation. OWS demonstrated flexibility in tactics of protest, showed that can mobilize thousands of people from all around the country and has no problem announcing its action plan beforehand.
The massive presence of Occupy Wall Street shows it is still an organization with much energy, active and relevant at its one-year mark. The true test for OWS will be how much it is able translate direct actions into influence for the betterment of citizens affected by social and economic woes. Its tactics must remain interesting, informative, non-violent and provocative in order for its strategy to work in the long run.
The plan to Shut Down Wall Street consisted of dividing lower Manhattan into four zones of non-violent protest, each assigned an issue area. Activists could gravitate to their area of interest: Education Bloc, 99% Bloc, Ecology Bloc, or Strike Debt Bloc. Each bloc communicated by text message.
The elaborate plan was a tactical split of the thousands of protestors into these four blocs with 8-10 targets per zone. The targets included banks, corporations, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Wall Street Bull, and lobbies.
The NYPD response effectively blocked protest access to many targeted sites, including the NYSE, the Bull, and major Banks. Protestors reverted to “Plan B” which involved roving between sites, further extending the protest zones and police coverage. Although police blocked access to major targets, it was in fact the massive police response to protestors which resulted in achieving the objective: a virtual shutdown of the financial district.
Protestors eventually converged in Battery Park at midday for a giant Spokes Council. Reps of various affinity groups gave report backs of successes and challenges. Later everyone reconvened at Zuccotti for the final General Assembly and cutting of birthday cake for the 99%.
On the eve of S17, a direct action planning assembly was convened–ironically–at Police Square in front of the NYPD headquarters building. About 300 Occupy Wall Street activists attended the meeting to finalize plans for the September 17 protests in lower Manhattan. Usually such a discussion of plans are not released, but every detail was Mic Checked in front of the very officers who would be trying to obstruct it the next day.
Occupiers surrounded retired Philadelphia police Captain Ray Lewis on the West Lawn of the Capitol this afternoon at Occupy Congress. Many thanked him profusely for his support of the movement.
Captain Lewis received much attention when he was arrested on November 17, 2011 during an Occupy Wall Street protest. He criticized Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD for their handling of the protests and forceful tactics in evicting OWS from Zuccotti Park.
Dressed in his police uniform and sunglasses, Captain Lewis chatted with attendees and took pictures with them as the wind blew across the muddy West Lawn. He offered candid opinions and full-throated support of Occupy.
“I am here to further show solidarity with the Occupy movement,” emphasizing that by attending he sought publicity for Occupy and not for himself. “I am in full agreement with the declarative statements [of Occupy Wall Street] as posted online,” he said.
There had already been two confrontations with Capitol police earlier in the day. Many protestors were openly antagonistic. I asked him what he thought when he heard them yell, “Fuck the police!”
“I fully understand,” he said. “They are so sensitive to evil and corruption in government. They tried working within the system and with Obama.”
He continued by harshly assessing President Obama. Following Obama’s election, “What did we get? One of the biggest political betrayals in history. He’s nowhere near the president he said he would be.” He added, “He’s nothing more than a black George W. Bush.”
He praised all the alternative media arising from the Occupy movement and stressed the necessity of bypassing mainstream media. “What you’re doing is so important,” he said. “We didn’t have this during the Vietnam War.”