Occupy Activists Fan Out Across to Mark May Day

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

protesters, ows, handcuffed, nypd, police Protesters in black are detained at Sara Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side on May 1, 2012. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Hundreds of activists with a variety of causes spread out over the city Tuesday on International Workers Day, or May Day, with Occupy Wall Street members leading a charge against financial institutions.

Police in riot gear lined the front of Bank of America on West 42nd Street, facing several dozen Occupy activists marching behind police barricades.

Occupy activists had said they planned to bring business to a standstill on May Day, but the crowds protesting in the rain Tuesday morning were modest. Organizers had called for protesters to block one or more bridges or tunnels, but there was no evidence of success by midday.

There were at least 34 arrests reported as of Tuesday evening.

Michael Pellagatti, 24, was among the protesters who gathered at Bryant Park. The unemployed student has been involved with Occupy Wall Street since its genesis last September.

"The march down to Wall Street is symbolic," he said. "So if we ... can convey that people from all different races, all different backgrounds and creeds are coming together to say we’ve had enough of the corporate bail outs and the corporate influence that corporations have on our government, I think that’s going to send a powerful message."

Tom Morello, the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, was also present in Bryant Park and described the Occupy protests as a "genie in a bottle that won't get back in."

"It's not like we're a homogenous country that just high-fives at the Super Bowl," he said. "We're a country of have and have nots."

Another group picketed outside New York University to protest the university's expansion plans in Greenwich Village.

In Brooklyn, protesters began marching over the Williamsburg Bridge alongside a marching band playing The Doors' "Riders on the Storm." They arrived in Manhattan after noon on Tuesday and started marching past the Lower East Side.

"The 1 percent needs the 99 percent, and I just wish that more people would participate in the movement. That's what it needs," said Lisa Flax, 45, a nutritionist from Bushwick who was laid off, as she stood in Brooklyn at the mouth of the Williamsburg Bridge and prepared to join others in Washington Square Park.

Brian Douglas, 34, a member of Occupy Bushwick, said he regularly joins a group of more than a dozen protesters and was happily surprised by the turnout Tuesday.

"It really reinvigorates the whole movement knowing that there's people ready to show up," he said.

Protesters outside Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side dressed head-to-toe in black and carried some explicit anti-Wall Street and anti-NYPD signs. They chanted "anti-capitalism" in Spanish, and as they moved into the street, several were detained by police and taken away.

The NYPD reports, thus far, no protesters have been taken into custody.

On foot and bicycles, through streets and across bridges, Occupy activists plan to block urban arteries to slow the city's economic engine - from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to pamphlets and organizers' word-of-mouth communications.

Some say they're willing to get arrested, staging surprise actions to make their point - that financial inequality is destroying our society.

David Martinez, 50, a shop steward for Teamsters local 814 at Sothebys, where he has worked for 20 years.

“We’re out here because we’re participating in the 99 pickets with OWS,” he said. “We came out here to see if people wanted come out and support our members on the picket line.”

The New York Police Department is bracing to respond to the protests, which come a day after a lawsuit was filed by five people who said their constitutional rights were violated when officers kept them inside an area surrounded by metal barricades for nearly two hours on Nov. 30 as they tried to participate in a demonstration.

The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their base in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.

Paul Browne, the police department's chief spokesman, said recently that his department is "experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we're prepared to do both."

With the Associated Press

Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Chris Guerra, 27, artist and leader of OWS black knights on corner of 6th Ave and 42nd Street. (Brigid Bergin/WNYC)


Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Police gather at Bryant Park
Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Protesters gather midday in Bryant Park.
Marni Halasa, 46, the unofficial freedom fairy of Occupy Wall Street advocates for more bank regulation.

Marni Halasa, 46, the unofficial freedom fairy of Occupy Wall Street advocates for more bank regulation. She's also very popular with photographers. She says it took her 3-1/2 hours to prepare for the rally in Bryant Park.

"If the 99 percent thinks social mobility exists for them, they are going to be disappointed," she said. "Social mobility has come to a grinding halt. Younger people don't realize that."

Brigid Bergin/WNYC
Protesters set up signs at Bryant Park.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Protesters from Brooklyn cross the Williamsburg Bridge.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Police and protesters on the Williamsburg Bridge.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Protesters gather near the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
A skateboarder leadesr the way as protesters crossing the Williamsburg Bridge arrive in Manhattan.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Marchers stop near Chrystie and E. Houston.
Brigid Bergin/WNYC
OWS takes some time to do yoga during the May Day protests.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC
Several protesters dressed in black rushed into the street and were detained.


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Comments [10]

Michael from Staten

I honestly very badly want to participate in this, but I'm aware of the fact that I *may* have an outstanding warrant for an unpaid parking ticket 5 years ago. I do not want to risk an extremely time consuming and expensive encounter with the police, because the NYPD has made it abundantly clear that just by assembling at all you are fair game. I'm sure that there are many more in this camp too for similar reasons. Maybe calling this thuggary is a bit harsh but if not that, how else do you describe the NYPD?

May. 01 2012 10:58 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

In America the capital class has always written history and taught history to favor itself. Make rape of workers look like progress and innovation.

May. 01 2012 10:35 AM
Elissa from Brooklyn

The Occupy Movement is failing, compared with the tea party, because it hasn't gone to the next stage , from protest to clarified, targeted activism. They're just asking the public to join them in whining with no followup. And your guests' dismissing any criticism as stupid just shows they don't have a coherent argument.

May. 01 2012 10:30 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

hmi, hopefully you are with us when things get ever worse for Americans. OWS will look like a friendly parade on the 4th of July.

May. 01 2012 10:25 AM
Len from hong kong (via nyc)

Perhaps the Peoples Republic of China embassy should be approached to see if the Chinese could raise these human right and civil liberties issues when their top officials meet with Hillary Clinton later this week...

May. 01 2012 10:22 AM

I am sad there is no mention of the real celebration of May Day-the beginning of spring, the coming days of light. That is what I am celebrating--I hope others will remember.

May. 01 2012 10:19 AM
hmi from Park Slope

To sum it up: virtually no one is interested in OWS and its ever-vague principles, demands, and doings. I'd love to know what this fellow considers "massive numbers." There are parades for Andorra that have a better turnout in NYC.

May. 01 2012 10:14 AM

Brian just said the AP reported a dozen people. I see hundreds:

May. 01 2012 10:10 AM
Michael Finegan from Clifton, NJ 07011

A time for Change and Reflection

This being a presidential election year, it is a critical moment in time for the Occupy movement. The issues we deal with today are very similar to what the country was experiencing back in the 1960’s; civil rights, equality, poverty, health care and the rising inequity between the rich and the working class society that make up the ninety nine percent. The 1960’s was a time of radical change in America, which built a better society for all Americans. The difference between then and now is the fact that we had leadership;
Individuals willing to speak out and take a stand for what they believed in. Today we hide behind our computer screens and sign internet petitions that give us a false sense of change. We march down the streets to stand in front of empty office buildings.

Where are the leaders of today? We need someone like Dr. King who can articulate our purpose and motivate our spirits. Someone who will march beside us and let it be known; we shall overcome. Not all the leaders of the 60’s were well known; some lesser known individuals took a stand and made a difference. A man whom I always admired was Leon J. Davis (11/26/06 – 09/14/92) of local 1199 in NYC. Mr. Davis began to organize Hospital workers and went on to lead his union 1199 to be an active force in the civil rights movement. My mother worked at the Daughters of Miriam in Clifton, NJ and was a member of that union. Because of the efforts and dedication of Mr. Davis, he was able to make a positive difference in the lives of many including my family. This is what leadership is all about; Positive Change in Peoples lives.

Lessons can be learned for the 1960’s and applied to today’s Occupy movement. With the political conventions taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina and Tampa, Florida, Occupy has an once in a life time opportunity to realize its goals for change in America. This moment in time will never come again; let us join together and seek out the leaders we need to accomplish our dream of equality in America.

May. 01 2012 09:46 AM
bernie from bklyn

dear OWS protesters-
do your thing, but absolutely do not interfere with means of travel for working people who can't afford to join you today. for some, missing 1 day of work is devastating for a struggling family and if you guys make their life even more difficult then you are doing a disservice to your cause. blocking bridges, tunnels, roadways, subways is moronic and will turn the tide of your support from real working people in nyc. take heed.

May. 01 2012 09:45 AM

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