Bloomberg: Bridge Marchers Didn't Represent Protesters

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street protester on the Brooklyn Bridge (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the several anti-Wall Street thousand protesters who marched over the Brooklyn Bridge Thursday didn't really represent Occupy Wall Street.

Speaking on his weekly WOR Radio show Friday, Bloomberg said "a vast percentage" of the marchers were union members who "had organized signs and leadership."

The mayor said the protest "was just an opportunity for a bunch of unions to complain or to protest, or whatever they want to do."

Zuccotti Park was virtually empty Friday, a day after about 250 were arrested when protesters marched through the streets of Manhattan as part of an all-day citywide demonstration that began in the financial district and fanned out across the city.

Just a handful of protesters were outnumbered by police officers and private security guards.

"This location did its part," said protester Christopher Guerra, who said it was his 49th day protesting. "You can't stop the movement now. The die is cast. You can't stop."

(Photo: Zuccotti Park a day after protesters staged demonstrations throughout the city. Brian Zumhagen/WNYC)

Many protesters arrested during the demonstration Thursday who were held overnight had arraignments Friday morning.

Jean Fox, who spent the night in jail, appeared before a judge this morning. She didn't go into the specifics of her case on the advice of her lawyer.

"This was a non-violent protest," she said, "and some of the charges are all over the place and don't jive with what people were doing, my own charges included.

To mark the second month of the protest, hundreds of protesters began the day at the Stock Exchange in an effort to interrupt the opening bell. It rang on time, but many who worked in the financial district had trouble getting to work with barricades blocking intersections.

Clashes between a police and a crowd at Zuccotti Park occurred when a group of protesters removed the metal barricades around the perimeter of the park.

By late afternoon, a crowd of several thousand headed to Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, some coming via subway, and spilled into the streets, before crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and then heading back to Zuccotti Park.

Sam Schwemberger, a protester that took part in the march to the Brooklyn Bridge, said it was hard to move, in part, due to size of the crowd “but it also seems hyper-regulated by police cordons and so on and so forth. Like a gesture of occupying the streets but there's very, very tight control."

Ten protesters and seven police officers were injured throughout the day. Thursday morning, a protester doused four officers in the face with a stinging liquid believed to be vinegar based. A second officer received 20 stitches in his left hand after a protester threw an object at a group of officers.

The evening protest in Foley Square included labor organizations who obtained city permits and set up a sound system instead of Occupy Wall Street’s usual human microphone system.

(Photo: Panoramic of protesters in Foley Square Thursday night./Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Agnes Johnson from the Bronx came down to protest the suffering in her community.

"I see destitution. They've closed off housing from where people can live and they're closing schools," she said. "The evening has been amazing. There's all walks of life coming out."

Despite Occupy Wall Street's eviction from Zuccotti Park early in the week, the mood of the protesters was jubilant. Mike Corbitt, a Teamster, was inspired by the day's activities. "I didn't think that my generation had this in us - even, students, people who never worked a union job...coming out and supporting labor and the middle class as a whole, I think that's fantastic."

Police arrested at least two dozen people for trying to block traffic on the bridge roadway at the start of the march, but the most demonstrators crossed without incident on the pedestrian walkway, where Occupy Wall Street slogans were projected on the side of the Verizon building and drivers honked their support for the protest.

Speaking Thursday afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said so far the demonstrations had "minimal disruption to people. Most protesters have, in fairness, acted responsibly."

"We will ensure that everyone has a right to exercise their First Amendment rights." Bloomberg said. "But make no mistake about it, if anyone's actions cross the line and threaten the health and safety of others ... we will respond accordingly."

"There are people who are fed up, and feel like it's time to take nonviolent action to stop business as usual on Wall Street," Han Shan, an organizer told WNYC earlier in the day. "And I think people want to come with their kids and their grandmothers and join us in the streets."

Demonstrations took place in cities across the country, from Albany to Los Angles, and were – for the most part – peaceful, with most arrests occurring for blocking traffic or streets.

With reporting from Brigid Bergin, Ilya Marritz, Bob Hennelly, Stephen Nessen and Kathleen Horan.


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Comments [18]

Fiore DeRosa from New York City

Mayor Bloomberg is a Putz! Pretty interesting that he feels that people in unions aren't part of the 99%. I am a union member Mr. Bloomberg and I am part of the "Occupy" movement. Just to clarify it for our CEO mayor, the plutocrat, Mr. Wall Street himself- this is about how 99% of the population have been financially and Politically disenfranchised by the top 1%. Take your hands off your ears and eyes and maybe you will get the message. Maybe not, considering he is the man who doled out over 2 billion dollars of tax breaks to wealthy developers and to the wealthy people for luxury housing , while cutting the jobs of Teachers, Policemen, Firemen and Municipal Workers. He is the guy who famously called New York City the "Luxury Good." He is the guy billionaire who said, "What is wrong with making 7 dollars and hour. And last but not least, under his watch there was a study in which they tossed 150 homeless families on to the street! Families! Children! What could be the purpose of such a study? To prove that they will find a way to survive?

Nov. 18 2011 06:43 PM
lib from Manhattan

the mayor wants to 'divide and conquer' between OWS and labor. he chose not to mention the students. and then, after the dividing tactic, he attacks the unions: "was just an opportunity for a bunch of unions to complain or to protest, or whatever they want to do."
You don't need to be overly analytic to see on 'what side his slice of bread is buttered'.
in spite of my criticism of a few of OWS, i cannot see anyone will not agree that there is social injustice and monstrous inequality in USA of teh 21st century.

Nov. 18 2011 05:09 PM
SG from Brooklyn

Sorry to hear that King Bloomberg doesn't like when people exercise their right to protest.

Nov. 18 2011 04:09 PM
John from Manhattan

I'd like to focus on the mayor's comments, and how I hope this guy continues to dig his p.r. grave, but that's sort of a given to me (and my fingers are crossed). But I'd like to address the issue of Brian Lehrer's bias. Brian L. is a brilliant man, but my allegiance to him has for years been tainted by a personal experience (and other, similar instances I've witnessed involving other callers). I find sometimes his dispassionate act belies a bias.The interview topic was gay men choosing to have unsafe sex bla bla. The issue of hiv-negative men only coupling with hiv-negative men and vice versa was being discussed when I called and said, clearly, that 'mixed-status' relationships were acceptable provided safe sex is practiced. I pointed out I was negative (I still am) and had a boyfriend who was positive. Brian silenced me on the phone and turned to his guest. His takeaway from my call? "Well, there's one more from the I-don't-care-if-I-get-infected camp." This sensationalist twisting of my call (and the general disregard on the part of a straight moderator, ostensibly for the sake of sensationalism or flame-fanning, for the 90+% of gay men committed to safe sex) in my mind placed the arguably brilliant Mr. Lehrer into the "Jerry Springer" camp. This episode has always informed me as I continue to listen to (and still most of the time marvel at) Mr. Lehrer's show.

Nov. 18 2011 03:22 PM
David Mitchell from Rockland County

Does Mayor Bloomberg also now have the arrogance to think that he is the expert and spokesperson for who is part of and/or can support social movements?

Nov. 18 2011 03:08 PM
Wendy Sacks

Our mayor is out of touch. The Union people and others marching were there in support of OWS. We support their message--Wall St. and the big corporations are not contributing to this country and the middle class and poor are being penalized.

Nov. 18 2011 01:05 PM

That guy going on and on about how wnyc doesn't pay taxes really ticked me off. Wnyc contributes so much to new York city! They provide invaluable 24 hour education, news and entertainment. They improve the quality of life for us the listeners who do pay taxes. And they make our tax money more valuable by uncovering corruption through investigative journalism.

Brian, I respect you tremendously for being so patient with that obnoctious caller.

Nov. 18 2011 10:38 AM
Jane Iyer from Brooklyn, NY

Just listened to that vitriolic "gentleman" attack WNYC, the protestors etc. I say thank God for WNYC - it's the voice of reason and intelligence and, I believe, bends over backwards to be even handed in its coverage.
I would love to know what he would have to say about the Arab Spring.
Jane PS even Mayor Bloomberg says the protestors have been pretty restrained. Impressive given their understandable strength of feeling.

Nov. 18 2011 10:38 AM
Chris from NJ

I'd wager that most people who listen to WNYC do not feel like the previous ranting caller. He obviously called up with an agenda and frankly, I think Brian gave him way too much time. I appreciate the coverage of the Occupy movement on WNYC and I hope it continues.

Nov. 18 2011 10:33 AM
teddy from NYC

The current caller desrves to be heard! We were asked to respond, and Brian Lehrer is doing what the movement is aginst - shoutnig somebody down! I too have stopped giving to WNYC, in large part because of Mr. Lehrer's constant bias

Nov. 18 2011 10:29 AM

the guy talking to brian lehrer right now doesn't get that the main stream media is completely catering to the folks like Bloomberg etc who are trying to denigrate free speech. He does not get it. These people do not give up. Go listen to FOX.

Nov. 18 2011 10:25 AM
Brenda from New York City

Thank you to the gentleman who called in to say enough coverage of this "movement" and enough portraying them as heroic.

Nov. 18 2011 10:25 AM
Lisa from Forest Hills

I am in the 99%, but I am unclear what has to happen to satisfy those protesting.

Nov. 18 2011 10:20 AM
John from office

We should praise the Brave and restrained NYPD we have. The officers were GREAT and did THEIR JOB.

Nov. 18 2011 10:03 AM
Aaron from at work on Wall Street

hope to hear something today about the air space above the protests being closed off by NYPD -- their helicopters shepharding away all media helicopters.

Nov. 18 2011 09:53 AM
suzan from NYC

I saw police deliberately drive their motorcycles into the backs of peaceful students on Lafayette street last night.
The police are supposed to protect people not hurt them! These officers had a thug mentality.
People are always more important than cars!!

Nov. 18 2011 09:29 AM
modmike from Clifton, NJ

A great day in American history; we the people have taken control of our lives!

Nov. 18 2011 08:54 AM
Shabd Simon-Alexander from brooklyn, ny

THAT's your headline? wnyc, i expect more of you. how many thousands of other people were not arrested? how many other things happened in that day of protest? how many messages were expressed and personal stories told?

Nov. 18 2011 08:08 AM

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