In New York, A Final May Day March Ends at Wall Street

It was a colorful, tiring, largely peaceful day in New York, where Occupy Wall Street and May Day activists had sprawling marches, massive rallies, and a couple scuffles with police, all to protest corporate greed and money in politics.

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Update (6:50 p.m. EDT): After some scuffles with police in the morning, a largely peaceful New York rally is marching slowly from Union Square down Broadway to its final stop at Wall Street. We have to sign off soon, but in the meantime, here's a by-the-numbers breakdown of the day so far:

  • 30: Arrests estimated by both National Lawyers Guild and, in the end, NYPD
  • 8,000: Estimate of the size of the crowd at Union Square, per Animal New York
  • 15: Picket lines listed by Occupy Wall Street for the 99 Picket Lines action
  • 4: Helicopters over lower Manhattan, according to New York Daily News
  • 86.4: Percent of New York public school student who went to class, compared with 85 percent the last time May Day fell on a weekday, according to the New York Department of Education (via Daily News)
  • 12: Hours of events scheduled in New York Tuesday (not including after-hours celebrations and actions)
  • 4: Miles of marching from Bryant Park to Wall Street

Update (6:18 p.m. EDT): As the marchers head slowly and peacefully downtown, closed and eerily empty streets await them, per Instagram user b_switzer:

Update (6 p.m. EDT): More from Oakland, where police have fired tear gas and flash bang grenades as they clashed with protesters, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Associated Press grabbed some dramatic photos of protesters battling police:

And vandalizing a bank:

Update (5:50 p.m. EDT): A surreal note from Seattle: Apparently Phoenix Jones, the city's notorious self-styled crime fighter, has inserted himself into the melee of protesters, reportedly pepper-spraying some of them to keep them from vandalizing a building, alt-weekly The Stranger says:

Cienna Madrid reports, "I ran into Slog commenter Baconcat, who waspepper sprayed by Phoenix Jones. Baconcat was taking pictures at the courthouse and Phoenix was screaming at the group, 'I'm not against you guys, I'm here to keep the peace and protect this historic building,' and then took them out with pepper spray. Baconcat says his eyes are dry as hell." Tear gas went off shortly thereafter; it's unknown if the tear gas belongs to the "superhero," too. "Beware: Phoenix Jones is still on the loose. But it's still peaceful here in Westlake."

Update (5:38 p.m. EDT): In New York, the massive march from Union Square to Wall Street has begun, with thousands making their way downtown on Broadway. Jamie Kilstein shared this photo of the march setting off:

Update (5:24 p.m. EDT): The New York Police Department says only 15 protesters have been arrested Tuesday, compared to the National Lawyers Guild estimate of 30. According to the New York Daily News: "Officials said someone threw paint on a police cruiser on the Bowery, and one demonstrator was arrested for bumping a scooter cop on Sixth Ave. and biting an assistant chief in the Intelligence Division on the finger."

Update (5:16 p.m. EDT): Time for a check-in on May Day actions in other U.S. cities:

  • In Portland, a group of about 70 protesters clashed pretty violently with police. The Oregonian, which has live updates, reports that "A shoving match began as protesters -- many wearing bandanas and covering their faces -- strayed into the street. Police on horses and bikes tried to push them back." Rainy weather hasn't deterred the demonstrators, who reportedly fought police in "a wild scrum" after someone threw what appeared to be a smoke bomb.
  • In Seattle, demonstrations downtown also turned chaotic and violent, as protesters broke windows and police tried to subdue them with pepper spray, according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The updating report in the Seattle Times has this harrowing account: "Cops say damage to stores and vehicles downtown amounts to “thousands and thousands ” of dollars as vandals struck store windows, cars, just about everything in their path.  Officers followed them to Westlake Park where many of the vandals were reportedly changing out of the black clothes they wore while smashing windows."
  • An Occupy march is underway in Los Angeles, but so far things there sound relatively calm. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that protesters plan to get arrested at Los Angeles International Airport as part of an SEIU demonstration there.
  • Chicago's march, which police are escorting on horses, sounds so incredibly polite. The Chicago Tribune reports: "While some demonstrators shouted "free the horses," one police supervisor walking backward at the head of the march was tapped on the shoulder by a demonstrator who pointed out he was about to step in a large pile left by one of the horses. The officer thanked the man."

Update (5 p.m. EDT): The rally and concert at Union Square has attracted a crowd of thousands, with more acts on the way. New School Free Press editor Andrea Vocos tweeted this fun picture of Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello leading a sing-along of This Land Is Our Land:

Update (4:35 p.m. EDT): The East Bay Express got a photo of that roughed-up CBS 5 news van in Oakland. Not cool, van-smashers!

Update (4:29 p.m. EDT): In New York, there have been a total of about 30 arrests so far, according to Yetta Kurland, of the National Lawyers Guild, which is handling legal defense for May Day protesters.

Update (4:23 p.m. EDT): KCBS reporter Doug Sovern reports some less-than-peaceful protesters stripped the CBS 5 news truck. If anybody has pictures, please send them:

Update (4:16 p.m. EDT): Union Square from another angle, via Instagram user mostrower:

Update (4:10 p.m. EDT): It's time to change the lead photo, but this one from the Associated Press, of a police lieutenant swinging his baton at a masked protester during the wildcat march, is so dramatic we want to keep it in the post:

Update (4:08 p.m. EDT): In Oakland, things have calmed down a little, with protesters "slowly leaving the street" according to North Oakland Now. KQED, the local public radio station, tweets this photo of a police line holding at Broadway and 15th Street:

Update (3:59 p.m. EDT): On Twitter, photographer Katie Moore shares this shot of the crowd. Guessing that's about a thousand people. Maybe more. It's hard to see behind the trees.

Update (3:47 p.m. EDT): The rally in Union Square is pretty much in full swing, and reportedly peaceful. Instagram user verbosecoma captured this admittedly pretty cute nod to an icon of peaceful protest:

Update (3:33 p.m. EDT): Meanwhile, in Oakland, things have reportedly gotten a little out of control as police fired tear gas at a crowd on Broadway and 14th Street, according to the East Bay Express on Twitter. The crowd looks fairly calm on the Oakland Tribune's live stream, but an announcer can be heard in the background saying "the rally has been postponed due to cloudy weather with a 100 percent chance of tear gas). Activist Anthony Vincent tweeted this photo of a protester he said was injured by police:

Update (3:19 p.m. EDT): Most of the marchers from Bryant Park have made it to Union Square, but the march from Washington Square Park is running into conflict with police. Veteran New York reporter Harry Siegel tweets a report of arrests at 6th Avenue and Waverly, one of which apparently landed a protester a bloody nose. Instagram user christrobbins shared this photo:

Update (3:01 p.m. EDT): At Washington Square Park, police readied orange nets to corral protesters, NYCLU tweets:

Meanwhile, an impromptu sit-in seems to be underway at Broadway and 21st Street, according to prolific Occupy tweeter Carrie M:

Update (2:51 p.m. EDT): Multiple people on Twitter say marchers have taken over 5th Avenue, around 29th and 30th Street. The emergency services watcher @Breaking911 tweets: "OWS marchers have taken 5th Ave -- pushing back #NYPD officers. Operations req arrest wagons."

Update (2:45 p.m. EDT): This is one of the funnier signs we've seen floating around on Twitter (via @mollycrabapple):

Update (2:42 p.m. EDT): Things got a little out of hand at Washington Square Park. "Trashcans were thrown, barricades were flung, arrests were made during march up to wash sq pk," NYCLU tweeted. Citizen Radio's Jamie Kilstein tweeted this image of protesters taking over a street:

Update (2:32 p.m. EDT): At least two more arrests are being reported, this time in the neighborhood of Washington Square Park, where the wildcat march has stopped to regroup. NYCLU tweeted photos of both:

Update (2:17 p.m. EDT): One of the many smaller marches just passed by The Atlantic Wire's office, heading up Lafayette Street. About 80 marchers accompanied by at least as many cops:

Update (2:02 p.m. EDT): Reuters has a worthwhile story on the white powder incidents. A total of 10 letters have arrived at banks and news organizations, including three Tuesday, "along with notes suggesting the sender sympathizes with the Occupy Wall Street's Day of May 1 protests, police said." The powder, fortunately, turned out to be harmless.

Update (2 p.m. EDT): The next thing scheduled is the Guitarmy march, led by Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, departing from Bryant Park right now and heading to Union Square. Timcast is at Bryant Park now.

Update (1:54 p.m. EDT): The Ustream channel Onesabin seems to be offline, but Vice has a good live feed from the wildcat march Downtown, and Timcast is still streaming from Midtown.

Update (1:49 p.m. EDT): The Guardian's Ryan Devereaux tweets this shot of the wildcat march getting underway about eight minutes ago:


Meanwhile, apparently Gilbert Godfrey's up in the mix somehow? That's what Adrian Chen's hearing from Newyorkist.

Update (1:41 p.m. EDT): More suspicious white powder's been discovered, this time at the headquarters of Citi Bank at 399 Park Avenue, @911Buff reports. A hazmat team's apparently on the way.

Update (1:36 p.m. EDT): Someone just got arrested in a pretty rough scuffle between police and protesters at Roosevelt Park, where the wildcat march is staging.

Update (1:30 p.m. EDT): The protest marches are expected to end up at Union Square for a 4 p.m. "solidarity rally," with speakers and bands, before a big march from Union Square to Wall Street. Fast Company's Neil Ungerleider describes what to expect at Union Square:

Expected acts veer towards the hipster end of the spectrum, with Das Racist, Dan Deacon, and Immortal Technique performing. Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave) and Ben Harper are leading a Occupy Guitarmy protest march as part of the larger Bryant Park contingent that will strum guitars and sing acoustic songs in a giant folk concert that will make its way to Union Square as well.

Instagram user clay_tone shared this photo of the small crowd waiting for things to get started at the square:

Update (1:20 p.m. EDT): The wildcat march is staging at Second Avenue and Houston Street. Banners include "Fuck the Cops" and this "Kill Capitalism" one, shared by Alexander Reed Kelly. The bent here is a lot more anarchist than uptown's labor focus.

Update (1:07 p.m. EDT): Instagram user dylanschenker shares this photo of an artistically rendered sign. Impressive!

Update (12:48 p.m. EDT): Back in Midtown, the cops are reportedly out in force, but so far no more arrests have been made since those two this morning. A march is winding its way through the neighborhood while another crowd of about 200 pickets the Capital Grille over a labor dispute. Downtown, the march is heading away from the Williamsburg Bridge, and since we haven't seen any more reports of a closure, we're going to go ahead and disregard that one tweet from @OWStactical.

If you want to follow the Downtown march on live video, the Ustream channel Onesabin is broadcasting there:

And in Midtown, you can follow the events via Timcast, who helped bring us the November 17 protests:

Update (12:35 p.m. EDT): The Twitter account @OWStactical says the bridge has been shut down to vehicle traffic, but that hasn't been confirmed by law enforcement or media. Meanwhile, the crowd from the bridge is reportedly heading north after making it into Manhattan. The Nation's Allison Kilkenny tweets they're heading north on Avenue B.

Update (12:25 p.m. EDT): The white powder was apparently found at News Corporation, tweets @911Buff, a stream that focuses on New York emergency response: "One patient exposed, hazmat en route." Police are reportedly investigating whether Occupy Wall Street had anything to do with that.

Update (12:21 p.m. EDT): DeLuca shares this better photo of police arresting marchers on the Williamsburg Bridge. He confirms three have been taken into custody.

Update (12:11 p.m. EDT): Police have stopped the protesters on the bridge, journalist Jared Marlsin tweets. He says they're arresting three masked demonstrators on what appears to be the pedestrian side in the photo he posted:

Update (11:51 a.m. EDT): A contingent has taken over the bike lanes of the Williamsburg Bridge, on its way into Manhattan from Brooklyn. Newsbeast's Matthew DeLuca tweets: "NYPD keeping hundreds of protesters to bike lane of Williamsburg bridge as they cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan." Arckii MunJong Kim shared this photo:

Update (11:41 a.m. EDT): This is alarming: That emergency dispatch Twitter feed, @NYCityalerts, tweets that units are responding to a report of "suspicious powder" at a building at 6th Avenue and 48th Street. There's no overt connection to Occupy Wall Street, but envelopes of white powder arrived at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office as well as six New York banks on Monday along with a note that read "F--k the bosses F--k the banks F--k the pigs. Happy May Day," according to the New York Daily News. Fortunately the powder wasn't anything dangerous, but that kind of thing's still scary.

Update (11:34 a.m. EDT): There are more like 500 protesters in Bryant Park, tweets Andrew Katz, who's written on Occupy Wall Street for The Atlantic and is at the park to report on May Day.

Original: Occupy Wall Street's "pop-up occupation" of Bryant Park started small Tuesday, with CNN's broadcast reporting a crowd of about 40 people, but it's grown since, with at least one protester confirmed arrested, and another possibly taken in for jaywalking. We're expecting plenty more.

According to a Twitter feed operated by New York emergency dispatchers, a "large protest" of more than 100 has made its way from Bryant Park up Sixth Avenue to 51st Street, and police are requesting arrest wagons. So far, though, just one arrest has been confirmed, of a Vietnam vet named Bill Steyert, according to The New York Daily News. Another person appears to have been taken into custody for jaywalking, according to Buzzfeed editor Mike Hayes, but we don't have a name for that person yet. Hayes tweeted this photo:

And self-described "aspiring journalist" Patrick Dehahn tweeted this much clearer shot:

The rain apparently kept a lot of people home for the first few hours of this protest, but the sky has mostly cleared up by now. Based on the call for arrest wagons and the plan for protests to converge later in the day into one big demonstration, we're guessing these will be far from the only two arrests we'll see.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.