Occupy Wall Street's May Day in New York

The movement managed to cause some trouble in the Big Apple, but fell short of aggressive plans to shut down the city.

On May Day, Occupy Wall Street took to the streets across the country. The call for a general strike -- no work, no school, no shopping, no banking -- brought out protesters in Chicago, Oakland, Seattle, and other cities across the country. But the plan for 99 pickets in front of 99 corporations with offices in New York City fell way short of its goals. Groups of between 15 and 40 people picketed in front of Bank of America, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (parent company of Fox News), Chase, Pfizer, and HSBC, among others. Rain slowed things down, and it wasn't until midday Tuesday that Manhattan's Bryant Park grew packed as demonstrators organized by Interfaith Workers Justice to support immigrants' rights began a march through midtown, stopping to picket businesses they said were unfair to immigrants, such as Hot and Crusty bakery, Wells Fargo, the Capital Grill, and Chipotle.

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As the weather cleared, the action on the streets got hotter across the city. A black-clad group of anarchists ran through the Lower East Side, assaulting journalists, eluding police, and overturning garbage cans on its way to Washington Square. Union groups filled Union Square in the afternoon, marching down Broadway, which was closed to traffic. Tempers flared when police held up the marchers or protestors lay down in the street when they got to Wall Street, but Occupy Wall Street didn't come close to shutting New York City down.

One police officer I spoke to doing crowd control along the parade route said he thought that the Occupy Wall Street protests were important when they first began bringing up issues close to home for him, but that the movement had lost him since. "But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow, " he said, quoting John Lennon's lyrics for "Revolution."

Many on the streets didn't realize Occupy Wall Street was still active and were annoyed by the inconvenience the marchers caused. Others honked in solidarity and raised their firsts in support when the unsanctioned marches took to the street. The protesters marched for hours, chanting their discontent. "This is what democracy looks like," they shouted.

By evening, more than 30 arrests had been made and the protesters continued to have conflicts with the police until midnight, when their onetime homebase of Zuccotti Park was shut down for the night.

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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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