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May Day | Occupied Stories - Part 2

Tag Archive | "May Day"

May Day NYC: How the Cops are Occupying Wall Street Too


New York, NY – Today, I occupied the May Day International General Strike of Occupy Wall Street. The few thousand Occupiers at Bryant Park midtown, were made up of union workers, disappointed conservatives, disillusioned liberals, veterans of wars past and present, those fighting still for equal access to affordable health care and students who cannot get jobs or pay off their student loans. Protest was almost a misnomer today, because the park was filled with musicians beating their percussion instruments, blowing horns,chanting and singing, with many people swaying to the beat of their own drummer.

Most of  us have met a union worker we like or have loved. Many of us have worked a union job. This American worker, so unemployed now and for so long, is a group we can really stand up for and celebrate. There was a police presence there too and they are also in a union.

It occurred to me that the NYPD are occupying also. These are hard working union men and women, doing a job that most of us would never want to do. Yes, the police have been behaving badly. In the beginning of the Occupy movement, they herded young women into nets and assaulted them with pepper spray. They beat up young men with brutal tenacity. When Occupy Wall Street began to step up civil action in the spring, the police met them with seemingly more violence than they have used before, after comments that  Mayor Michael Bloomberg made about the police being his “private police force” and after we found out that Wall Street gives huge money to the NYPD, when we all thought their salaries were paid by the taxpayer.

No matter how you want to look at it though, the New York Police are Occupying Wall Street with us. They are there every day. They stay as long as we stay. Most of the time, there is very little tension, and most of the police do not want physical conflict. Their pensions are being cut also. They are losing their jobs as a result of a bad economy in most cities and towns. In fact, many city cops still have their jobs JUST to police the Occupy Movement.

If we started to think about the ever present police presence as being part of our Occupy family, would our relationships with them change? Could we teach them that they are just like we are – Occupiers; city union workers who’s jobs, pensions and benefits are being slashed while they perform work that most of us would never want to do?

If we all felt the kinship that is there, would the police stand down? Would the violence deescalate? We are not going to stop committing acts of civil disobedience. We have a world to change. I would love to see what will happen when we all realize that the police are actually with us, and not against us.

-Marianne Hoynes-

Check out all our coverage from May Day here.

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May Day General Strike!


New York, NY – Well, it’s been six months since my last adventure in NYC with OWS after slugging it out with Occupy Muskegon all winter, fighting for the clean-up of a local paper mill that is being demolished, demonstrating with and for a slew of local schools that are closing, attending inter-occupy summits around Michigan, including a wonderful retreat at Circle-Pines—a co-op activist family campground—and starting up a local, community-based newspaper with fellow OM members—OMNews (www.occupymuskegon.net/omnews), in addition to attending more city and county board meetings than I can fully remember and volunteering once a week at the Muskegon County Museum of African-American History.  In that same time, my wife and I joined a community garden,  have been working to form strong alliances with other active groups in the local area, and I have also started interacting with a few poetry groups, as well. I have a family and novel that’s just begging to be revised, too!  Fortunately, I taught myself how to juggle a few years ago.

I left late in the day Sunday, around 4:30, with a questionable truck, limited funds, and a load of revisions piled up in my classes at WNMU, in addition to a pile of grading at Everest.  Cranked up on coffee and good music, I drove as far as mile marker 78 in Pennsylvania and crashed in the back of my truck at a TA Travel Center with the parking lot lights shining through my tinted windows.  The next morning I drove the rest of the way into Brooklyn, found a spot to park after a bit of driving around, and spent the rest of the day at Milk & Roses trying to return grades to my students at Everest with a laptop that refuses to connect to the internet.  After four hours of slugging it out with faulty internet, I was tired of sitting on my ass, so I swigged down a glass of wine, packed up, and headed back to my truck to take it easy before the May Day General Strike the next day.  Sitting in my truck, imbibing on the few treats I’d brought with me, wondering what the next day
would bring, full of hope for a massive showing, but also filled with anxiety that the day would be small, splintered, and the movement dying, I couldn’t help but think how odd it was to find myself there, sitting in the back of my truck, back in Brooklyn for OWS, without my cousin, Joe.  (You sure missed a beautiful day, Joe.  I wish you could have been here…)

I couldn’t get over to Manhattan until I moved my car to the other side of the street, so I slept in a bit, killed some time having a cup of coffee at Julie’s—a great gal who’d befriended Joe and I when we were in town last October (I haven’t seen the older lady, Alice, who lives next door, yet) and took a quick shower.  (Thanks, Julie!)  A few minutes to 1 pm, I moved my truck and headed into Manhattan.  I was hoping to link up with the Guitarmy to sing along with them as we marched.

In Manhattan, I found my way to Bryant Park.  There was a large group gathered there to be sure.  Teach-ins were taking place in various pockets around the park, a large group was meditating on a set of steps with an Occupy Wall Street banner, and the Statue of Liberty puppet was there dancing to the drums.  The air smelled of sage and the crowds energy filled me with happiness.

I walked around and dug Bryant Park, checking out the protestors, the teach-ins, the literature being passed out, the signs and flags waving in the air, even the spectators watching from their tables.  The crowd was smaller than I’d hoped, but still large, alive, and kicking.  I also knew from the schedule that many groups were out and about the city protesting at various locations.  Many of the unions were off doing just that.  Soon enough, a march started, leading the way to Union Square, where Tom Morello, Immortal Technique, and many others were to perform.

The march to Union Square was fairly tame. We took the streets a few times, but the cops continually pushed us back onto the sidewalks.  The police presence was large, but nothing like we’d see as the evening progressed.  At one point, I actually came across my old professor and mentor, Anne Waldman, who I was thrilled to see.  We chatted it up on the street for a bit before she ran off, away from the bus fumes blasting our direction.  The most beautiful moment in the march was once I caught up to the Guitarmy and we were trapped by a traffic light away from the rest of the march.  We had an enormous group of marchers behind us, and we ended up at the tip of a triangular median, playing and singing, “This Land Is Your Land.”  We marched and chanted to Union Square, and then the marchers diffused into all directions around the park.

I had no idea how big the group was at Union Square until I saw an aerial shot later that night online, but you could feel it as we were often pressed against each other with nowhere to go.  The police brought in an army of mopeds then, literally a platoon of cops ready to run you down—there were so many of them!  The police who were not on scooters formed human barricades in addition to the metal barricades that were up everywhere you looked.  They did an annoyingly good job at compartmentalizing people and squishing us together.  People were getting irritable and claimed the police were trying to incite a riot.  I think that has a lot of validity from what I saw and felt.  We all wanted to kick those barricades down and push those cops back just to breathe.  There were women with strollers who grew more and more concerned as people were pushed into the park and not let out.  Finally, after the crowd continued chanting “Let us out!  Let us out!” the cops opened a barricade and let a group of tens of thousands of people file out between them and their barricades like a bottleneck.  It was aggravating to say the least, but we kept the peace, showed our strength, patience, and simply marched by them.  All day, all night, I saw no signs of violence and somehow missed the group of Vets and clergy who were arrested defending our GA at Battery Park later in the night.

From there, we marched and marched and marched.  It’s a bit of a blur, really.  We danced in the streets, chanted, sang songs.  I ran all over the place taking pictures and videos until a guy marching next to me asked if I’d push his bike so he could take out his drum and join the drummers.  I obliged him long, long after it was necessary, as it turned out he was the best drummer there.  Finally, after dusk had turned to night and we’d passed by Zuccotti Park, which I thought was our destination, I gave him back his bike by the bull and the crowd of tens of thousands of us stopped.

Each time the police stopped the march, people would think it was over and trickle off.  We started a sit-in in the middle of the street, but the drums were still playing and all those thousands of people in the back couldn’t see or hear what was happening.  We were halted for so long, we lost a lot of people then.  Finally, after the sit-in communication failed and the police bowed to the crowd and let the march continue, we headed to Veterans Plaza for a GA.

Veterans Plaza was packed.  It was there that I really reflected once again, on what an honor it is to be here, to be part of this, to be with these people.  We talked about the fact that the police were surrounding us and had cut off a majority of the march back on the other side of the street.  The GA filled Veterans Plaza, but many thousands were not able to be let in, due to the police and the size of the park.  The more people announced the police surrounding us, the more people would trickle away, until finally there were maybe a couple hardcore hundred who stayed and talked about the tactics we would use to defend the park.  As more and more police formed around us and more and more people trickled away as we neared the 10 pm curfew, we decided the risk was too futile, so we tapped back into the crowd on the other side of the street to march to a 24 hour location.  Unfortunately, by then, our Vets and clergy had been arrested defending our GA and much of the thousands of people had splintered off.  Some headed to the waterfront, I later learned, but I never did see that group again.

The rest of us marched, noting how small we were by then, considering the tens of thousands we’d started out with.  The police planning to splinter us off from each other and continuously herding us around through barricades, scooters, and their own bodies, worked fairly well.  In the end, after trying to take Wall St. through any crack we could think of, including the subway underpass and cutting through a large store, always meeting with more barricades, we did a temporary sit in on the street to discuss our next action.  In the end, we opted to go home to Zuccotti, where only a couple hundred of us, if that, gathered.  There we went through park defense training, talked about how we would hold the park down, and waited for the folks from the waterfront to show up before the cops raided the park.  As midnight approached, there was no sign of the crowd from the waterfront, and though a few more police showed up, the park was largely free from officers compared to many other nights.  Last night, they were scattered all over the city.

After a small GA to discuss if and how we would try to hold the park, we all waited around to see if we would be kicked out, or if our reinforcements would show up.  Around 12:30, seeing no reinforcements and no raid from the police, watching more people trickle home, I decided to head back to the truck in Brooklyn and catch some z’s.  My legs were stiff and it takes a while to get back to Brooklyn at that time of night, so off I went.  Today is largely uneventful for me, unfortunately.  I haven’t checked the schedule for OWS yet, as I have to sit in this coffee shop and get some writing done for my WMNU classes.  I will have to do the same tomorrow, but if I get up early I am hoping to make it over to Manhattan for the night’s activities after I help Julie move a refrigerator up from her basement apartment in the evening.

-Dylan Hock-

Editors note: Inspired by Occupy Wall Street and angered by the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, Dylan drove to NYC to join the movement last fall. Read about it here.

And read the rest of our May Day coverage here. 

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Occupy Peace


New York, NY – We support Occupy but worry about violent reactions by protesters to police provocation and physical abuse.We came to the march on a peacekeeping mission. Peace for ALL was our objective. With an image of Gandhi and flashing peace signs, we walked the edges and spread our message of peace. We were constantly smiled at and peace signs were returned by spectators and protesters even a few cops. Photographers loved us.

At one point, we heard the “shame” chant, so we rushed over and put ourselves between protesters and police, who had just violently attacked a demonstrator. Quickly others joined us and we were able to calm the crowd, because it seemed a riot was about to break out.

We heard only violent provocative words from angry protesters, no violent actions. We did witness NYPD abuse.

It’s important that Occupy remain peaceful, for otherwise we fall prey to authoritarian provocation. Please DO NOT PLAY THEIR GAME!

-Matos-

Check out all our May Day coverage here.

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Report: Occupy Wall Street, Music, and Protest


This story was originally published on Pitchfork.

Photos by Erez Avissar. Check out more photos on our Facebook page.

New York, NY – Entering Manhattan’s Bryant Park yesterday afternoon felt like walking through my computer screen. The mediated images of Zuccotti Park and other Occupy Wall Street activity I’d experienced through news reports and social media were reproduced perfectly before me, albeit markedly more calm.

Here were more cops and reporters and drummers than I could feasibly count. Here were more camouflage and cargo prints than I’d seen in a single compact area since attending the New York Anarchist Book Fair in 2010. Here was that free library, the Occupy Dessert Kitchen, and copies of The Occupied Wall Street Journal. Not to mention picket signs saying things like “99 PERCENT” and “RISE” and “VOTE SOCIALISM,” among a netherworld of tie-dyed hippies and radicals.

It all came in honor of May Day, for which Occupy Wall Street had helped stage a global General Strike, to get people like me out from behind our digital interfaces and into the streets. It worked.

I came to Bryant Park for a practice session for the Occupy Guitarmy, organized by Occupy’s Music Working Group. At 2 p.m., Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine was to lead a pack of guitar-equipped protesters down 30 blocks to Union Square. Upon their arrival, at 4 p.m., Union Square would host a concert featuring Dan DeaconDas RacistImmortal Technique, Morello with Guitarmy members, and more, interspersed with speakers from various labor and immigration rights groups. Later, at 7 p.m., Le Tigre‘s JD Samson and her band MEN would perform near Wall Street.

But first: the Guitarmy.

Enclaves of musicians practiced by running through the day’s designated protest songs: Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”, Sergio Ortega’s “El Pueblo Unido”, Willie Nile’s “One Guitar”, Morello’s “World Wide Rebel Song”, Florence Reece’s “Which Side Are You On?”, and the traditional “We Shall Not Be Moved”. Throughout the park, photographers seemed to outnumber the several hundred participants. There were banjos, fiddles, ukeleles, saxophones. One pack, a marching band, held horns with signs taped on: “Come Strike With Me,” “Tax the Rich.” I counted at least one Martin Luther King mask, and at least one man distributing a bouquet of pink daisies. Someone was most definitely burning sage.

And then I found the Zombies, a daughter and her mother in pale, blood-streaked face paint. “I represent middle America,” the daughter Zombie said. “Americans are zombies.” She aired her frustrations, already, with May Day. “In other countries they actually shut things down. There are no trains. I had to rollerblade to school in France in the early 90s. This is just entertainment.”

“And they should have had GWAR performing in the streets,” she said, “chopping Obama’s head off.” The man with the pink bouquet delivered her a flower; she ate it. Nearby, a guy asked, “Anyone without an instrument want to make some egg shakers? Egg shakers! Make ’em here!”

The daughter Zombie, whose named was Shantay, rolled her eyes. “It’s like kindergarten.”

“Last year in Chile, 3,000 students marched and re-enacted ‘Thriller’, protesting for education reform,” she said. “That was a real statement. I don’t know what this is.”

++

But the small, ad hoc group of Occupy Wall Street organizers behind the musical May Day strike had a clear and ultimately well-realized vision of how to keep the movement’s biggest moment in the spotlight since 2011 centered on optimism over chaos and brutality. The Guitarmy practices were largely led by Alphonzo Terrell, 29, and an organizer named Goldi, who wore a bandana around his head and other hippie garb. According to Goldi, the idea for Guitarmy first came from an Occupier named Winn Cola at Zuccotti in October. “Guitarmy is a direct action and a great way to diffuse tensions with the police,” Goldi said, “Because you can’t arrest a song! Right?”

At 1:30 p.m., Terrell performed the first of many human mic-checks to explain how the march would function: seven color-coded sections were each headed by a designated leader with a pirate-like flag. “The key to victory is staying united with your section,” Terrell said. “We don’t want anyone to get lost or hurt. Or arrested.”

“This is Guitarmy,” he continued. “We are about music, love, and unity.” He warned that many people from the coinciding Direct Action protest were intent on taking the streets, but that Guitarmy should remain on the sidewalks, to avoid confrontation with the police.

Morello finally emerged just before the Guitarmy was set to depart from the park. He told the crowd he’d traveled 3,000 miles; that it was an honor to share the streets and songs. “History is not made by Presidents,” Morello began. “It’s not made by billionaires or bankers, wondering who can be bought.” Within minutes of Morello’s arrival it became clear that one of the Guitarmy’s primary functions would be: travelling Tom Morello photo shoot. And although he seemed slightly confused during the march, Morello was enthusiastic, shaking hands profusely and thanking fans who thanked him.

The marching musical performance soon gave way to more traditional Occupy chants: “We! Are! The 99 Percent!” and “The system! Must die! Hella, hella, occupy!” We’d ventured fewer than ten blocks from Bryant Park when a raging “WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!” broke out. The march took over the width of Fifth Avenue for the remainder of the hour-long trek. At 31st Street, Morello was approached by a friend, who then apologized for disrupting. “Oh,” he said, “no one can hear a note anyway.”

++

That was made up for by Morello’s spirited performance in Union Square, where he took the stage with his makeshift Guitarmy group. Occupy’s Will Gusakov, who stage-managed, noted that having protesters on stage emphasized “an ethos of participation and non-hierarchy” that is intrinsic to the movement, which he hoped the performers would all take on. Morello prefaced “World Wide Rebel Song” with a story about a group of Korean guitar-makers who were fired for unionizing (for whom he’d held a benefit concert). He encouraged the crowd to sing along, noting, “If you can’t remember the words, raise a militant fist in the air, and go ‘na na na’!” The group’s second song was “This Land Is Your Land,” complete with an acknowledgment that Woody Guthrie would have headlined the show, were he still alive.

Next on the bill was Bobby Sanabria, the Latin jazz singer and drummer, after a number of speakers who embodied May Day’s appeal to renew revolutionary spirits broadly. Sanabria encouraged everyone to protest the Grammys’ decision this year to cut 31 categories that “represented diversity,” like Latin jazz, Cajun, and Native American music.

Das Racist followed with fairly straight-ahead performances of Relax‘s “Michael Jackson” and “Rainbow in the Dark” that they cut with May Day shouts. The sound went out towards the end of “Rainbow” but the group continued on with help from a handful of die-hards in the front row. I couldn’t help the thought that a performance of Heems’ anti-authoritative reinterpretation of the Strokes’ “New York City Cops” would have been fitting here.

Dan Deacon somehow successfully controlled a packed Union Square, requesting a circle formation as he usually does in live settings, performing from within the audience. “I know, I don’t look like the most trustworthy person,” he said, encouraging an interpretative dance to “Of the Mountains.” He called it a “Body Mic Check,” which felt appropriate– in an interview last week, Deacon told me, “The first time I saw the mic-check stuff, I was like, ‘Holy shit. That’s exactly what I’d like to do.'”

The sea of picket signs (“Legalize Organize Unionize”) bobbed up and down to the beat of Deacon’s song. He next performed “Truth Rush” and asked the crowd to “part the sea!” for “a Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’-type dance-off.” “Both [sides of the crowd] are explicitly the same,” he said, “It’s important to remember that in life.”

“If I have one goal [at Union Square], it’s to change the way people think about the role of the individual,” Deacon told me last week. He expressed frustration with how media (like political cartoons) often “represent the wealthy as these Goliaths” and the 99% as much smaller people. “It’s a mistake to see your enemy as anything different than yourself,” Deacon said. “These are basic concepts, but they’re often looked over in regards to politics and power.” He said many of the lyrics on his forthcoming record, out by this fall, “are very much anti-corporation or pro-radical environmentalism,” including one “post-civilization” track.

On that note, Deacon said, “It’s insane for people to think we’re not returning to an age of kings, that the powers that be don’t want to go back to being pharaohs, having us build their pyramids. We’re existing in a time that’s post-Declaration of Independence, that’s post-Magna Carta. We exist in a twinkle of an eye of what some consider freedom. People are like, ‘Slavery was abolished.’ No, slavery was just outsourced.”

++

While Morello, Deacon, and Das Racist were the biggest musical draws of the day, it was refreshing to later witness topical sets from Immortal Technique and JD Samson, given the setting. Immortal Technique offered lines like “capitalism and democracy are not synonymous” and “the U.S. is a better country than the people who are running it.” JD’s set with MEN, later in the evening down at 2 Broadway, was perhaps the day’s most inspiring musical moment. The self-identified “protest band” of “feminists and queers” performed a dance-punk song written about the Occupy movement, “Make Him Pay”, as the crowd emerged on Wall Street. It felt triumphant.

Something I hear a lot as a music writer is “can’t expect every band to be Fugazi,” excusing the perpetual dearth of well-executed political songwriting. But this day served as a reminder that new protest music can still be purposeful. That same sentiment came up earlier in conversation with Shane Patrick, a member of Occupy Wall Street’s press team who helped organize the May Day events. “As much as the conversation with Occupy was a result of broad populist outrage over economic corruption, and the lack of accountability, so many of these things literally run through the narrative of music,” he said. “Is Occupy doing anything in terms of protest that’s really that distinct of anything Fugazi and Dischord did? Not really. It would be nice if you didn’t have to expect that Fugazi was the only one.”

– Jenn Pelly –

Check out all our May Day coverage here.

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M1: A First Hand Account of the Heinous Crime of Jaywalking


Editors note: This story was orginally published in The Portland Occupier. 

—-

Portland, OR – During the main May Day march, leaflets were being handed out calling for a Dance Dance Revolution – a roaming dance party that was to begin in the South Park Blocks. I arrived a little late to find about 100 protesters wrapping up the day’s activities with a celebratory dance party in Pioneer Square. The Bike Swarm had brought out the disco trike and was blasting dance music. We reveled in each other’s company, in song, dance and the spirit of revolution. Forming a conga line, we began snaking toward the justice center in order to bring some cheer to our comrades that had been beaten and arrested for the *gasp* inconceivable crime of jaywalking.

We crossed the street and I got about halfway down the block, when I turned around to see a gang of cops on bikes rounding the corner. They came pummeling into the crowd on the street. Cops and protesters went flying as they collided. One cop even flipped over another as they raged down the street and into the crowd. With fists-a-swinging, it’s like the police had taken our technique of bike swarming and used it against us in a cruel way. Following the flying attack pigs, there came the pigs on horses. The horses got up onto the sidewalk in an incomprehensible act of restraining protesters…onto the sidewalks…where they were already standing. Immediately, one of the horses emptied its bowels in fear onto the sidewalk. The horses, if asked what they thought of the situation, probably would have responded with “Why the hell are we being used as tools for evil?” That sentiment could probably be extended to the bicycles, if bicycles were sentient beings.

The cops dove into the crowd, grabbing protesters’ shirts, pants, legs, arms – whatever they could get their greasy paws on. Comrades were crushed by the gross weight of these beasts (and I’m not talking about horses). Because standing by and watching is how we got ourselves into this (much larger political mess), many reacted like they always do – with direct action! We grabbed our friends as they were tackled and pulled them back into safety and out of the grips of the Portland Industrial Police Complex. Based on the voraciousness of the attack, we wondered if there was some sort of dissent-crushing quota these pigs were trying to meet. We grabbed as many as we could, reassembled, and headed forward to the Jailhouse. The Disco Trike turned back. We couldn’t afford another $850 incident.

Songs and chants filled the air as we headed to the home sweet home of Chapman Park in order to let our friends inside know they were not alone. We lined ourselves up and down the sidewalk and faced off more bicycle cops, as well as a new battalion of black storm troopers. In times of stress, I sing to myself the imperial march from Star Wars. It seems to lighten the mood. After all, we are the resistance.

Choruses of “Solidarity Forever” were met with a light-flicking acknowledgement by those locked inside. Our megaphones carried the tunes of friendship up to the rafters. Echos bounced off the inJustice Center and probably rattled around freely in the skulls of the riot cops. I imagine there must be plenty of space in those heads of theirs – it’s doubtful that orders take up that much room. After each song, a choir of wolves would begin howling for the freedom of the members of their pack. Lights flickered in return. At one point, I got the chance to share my song with the Portland Police. It’s called “Cascadia, the Free“, and as I sang out to the riot cops, I hoped beyond hope that at least one line would penetrate their cold, black hearts and light a little fire of resistance.

-Little Bear-

Check out all our May Day coverage here. 

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Tell it to Your Lawyer


New York, NY – On May 1st during the March from Union Square to Wall Street, I decide to leave the march to use the bathroom. After my bathroom break, upon my return I tried to rejoin the march via an opening where the barricades were moveable, a cop stopped me and I said to him, ” I want to rejoin the march.”

“Its closed now,” the cop replied,

“But its clearly an access point and its my constitutional right to join the march, you are violating my 1st amendment by not letting me back into the march,” I said.

The cop replied, “Tell it to your lawyer!”

-Anonymous- 

Check out all our May Day stories here. 

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May Day Confusion at Grand Circus Park


DETROIT, MI–For the May Day events, I started in the Media Command Center for Occupy Detroit till about 4 or 5 pm. Then I joined the fun. In this video clip from Occupy Detroit, there is a group of “police officers” that are dressed in all black with different shoulder patches indicating they were different units:

Most city police ware dark blue uniforms, and here are a few cop cars and the bus parked on Woodward:

The talk last night was that these guys where Homeland Security. At about 9:30, they announced that everyone must leave the park by 10 pm. With the understanding that the sidewalks where a legal public space, a group of people congregated around the Pingry statue. Then the guys in black, with the company of about 40 city police, decided that we were not aloud to assemble on the sidewalk, saying that this was an illegal assembly. The protesters asked where they could go and were told to go south. To me this indicated that no one cared where we were as long as we didn’t stay in Grand Circus Park.

We regrouped in another park for about an hour or so and started getting visitors from the city police. They asked the group to go back to Grand Circus, and when told that  that’s where we came from and why, they didn’t even know about the events. That makes me wounder just who was calling the shots in Grand Circus…

All in all, it was a good day. Occupy had a food line for the homeless people in the area and a few musical groups played some tunes.

-Occupy Journey-

Editors note: Check out our other May Day stories here.

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The Universal Pilgrim


New York, NY – I closed my store and marched yesterday, May 1st, 2012, out of respect and solidarity for the International Labor Movement, aware, thanks to an NPR program, that the Haymarket Square Riot of 1886, Chicago, had been acknowledged in Poland and other countries during their own labor and political struggles.

The personal takeaway, having trudged from Union Square, late in the afternoon, to Wall Street, later that evening, was being an active part of history, punching a big red balloon high into the sky, and observing personal solidarity–as well as some interesting fashions (a number of bleached heads on the guys)–with the cadre I was marching. More significantly, I felt it answered a call to an urgent civic duty, and, quite unexpectedly, also gave me a role in ‘compassionate history.’

At one point, as the NYPD muscled our stream of lumpen marchers aside, I felt like a  doomed pilgrim, a Kurt Vonnegut character of sorts, headed for a slaughterhouse chute. Or perhaps even some hungry lions. But I was also reminded that spiritual values, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” and Constitutional ones, “to provide for the common weal,” were being resurrected. My faith restored, progressive political reform, better education, fair labor practices, fair treatment to newcomers and their first generation American children, and respect for the rights of LGBT, became, in my heart and mind, the pilgrimage and actual shrine to which we were all headed.

After several rewarding, at times, colorful hours, having stopped at the banks to say “get a job,” chant an expletive or two at the powers that be, while also having been flashed many different signs from enthusiasts, and a few detractors, out the windows of our building-lined ‘canyon’ known as Broadway, we finally arrived, end of the line, at the US Customs House near the American Stock Exchange at the Bowling Green IRT [subway] Station. There, the seasoned Occupiers sat down and began to educate. It’s then I experienced the ripened fellowship of Universalism, as if Logos, The Word—or even just, “Word?”—had been made flesh. A pilgrimage the recounting of which only a modern day Chaucer, or perhaps George Orwell, if only, might be worthy.

-James Sarzotti-

Check out our other May Day stories here. 

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A Songful May Day in Harrisonburg, VA


HARRISONBURG, VA – Fifteen Harrisonburg, VA OccuPeeps gathered next to our brand new tiny tent encampment at 5PM for a singing “hootenanny” with four guitars and a collection of percussion.

Our favorites songs were “This Your Land is Your Land” and “Let it Fail” –  set to the Beatles “Let It Be” -beseeching the country to cut Bank of America loose from bailout tethers.

OccuHistorian Michael Snell-Feikema provided a dynamic teach-in on May Day history we all realized yet again that this struggle is ages-old, relentless, and absolutely critical.

We marched around our city’s Court Square;  attention focused on B of A’s badness with a rousing rendition of “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho”.  In this version the bank’s walls come-a-tubmlin’ down!!

We are grateful and energized to have spent the past 6 months in the Shenandoah Valley engaged in this amazing movement.

Pro-people. Pro-local. Pro-peace.

-Occupy Harrisonburg-

For more information here’s our blog:  occupyhburg.wordpress.com  Follow @occupyhburg on Twitter. And catch our UStream on The Occupy Harrisonburg Channel.

Editors note: Check out our other May Day stories here.

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A May Day at Home


PORT TOWNSEND, WA–I am very ill and disabled at the time, so I was not able to go out onto the streets. But from my home I could refrain from shopping, banking, buying gasoline. I have helped my partner close his Bank of America account and start with a small local bank. We boycott Walmart. We primarily buy from local coop; local farmers, ranchers and fisherpersons; and Azure Standard. I also posted a lot of the Occupy pictures and videos on my Facebook. I sent out “love energy” from my heart and soul to my brothers and sisters on the streets all over the world–and the police too.  We are all family. I am Legion. Expect me.

 -Lauren-

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