Showdown on the Brooklyn Bridge

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A photojournalist's lens captures some of the 700 arrests that took place over the weekend

 
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Police arrested hundreds of protesters on Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011 / Julie Dermansky

After two weeks of protests, a showdown.

I was one of many photographers who followed the Occupy Wall Street protesters as they walked over the Brooklyn Bridge this weekend. When a large group started heading up the roadway, I jumped down from the pedestrian path and ran ahead of the crowd to photograph the march. Behind me, a growing line of police officers were blocking the bridge with their bodies and rolling out an orange mesh barrier. It was a high anxiety scene -- the demonstrators were penned in, the police were surrounding them, and over a dozen photojournalists were standing on neutral ground. Before the arrests began, it felt like the moment in a Western movie right before the first gun is drawn.

When the police first dragged a few protesters out of the march, large groups began to sit down. Some resisted arrest. The crowd chanted, "The whole world is watching," and, "Shame, shame, shame." The jeers had little effect: police pulled out plastic handcuffs and escorted protesters through the barricade, leading them to the sides of the bridge. As they were led away, some shouted their names to members of the National Lawyers Guild who were standing on the overpass, accounting for as many of the arrests as possible. Meanwhile, the police kept the press in a tight area off to the side behind the orange mesh, where we photographed what seemed like a never-ending perp walk. Here are some of the scenes I witnessed.

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

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