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Friday, Nov 18, 2011, 5:56 am

Thousands March Across Brooklyn Bridge

By Allison Kilkenny

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Updated 10:26 a.m.

For all his trouble organizing a raid that was meant to deal a swift, crushing blow to Occupy Wall Street, Mayor Bloomberg last night was rewarded with the largest Occupy event yet - a day full of actions that resulted in approximately 250 arrests and culminated in thousands of protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in a peaceful demonstration.

After a series of morning intersection occupations at the financial district, occupiers moved the protests underground into subway stations.

From The Brooklyn Paper:

Anti-Wall Street protesters gathered at the Broadway Junction and Borough Hall subway stops at around 3 pm to decry economic inequality but also to urge surprised bystanders to join them.

“We are the 99 percent,” the hundred or so protesters chanted as they marched from Cadman Plaza to the Manhattan-bound 4/5 platform. “So are you!”

Protesters filled up three cars on the empty train, using the “human mic” to share personal stories of economic hardship to win over surprised straphangers who had not planned to be a part of the day’s protests.

“I have owned a business for five years, but I am forced to pay over a $1,000 a month to insure my family,” yelled a protester to the captive audience somewhere between Borough Hall and Bowling Green. “And it prevents us from saving any money. We live paycheck to paycheck. We want health care!”

Brooklynites supportive of the movement tolerated the interruption and the tight squeeze.

“I picked the right train!” said a woman who boarded the 4 train to find it full of protesters. “I believe in what they’re doing.”

The day of action ended with a protest at Foley Square and "candle"-light march across the Brooklyn Bridge. Foley Square reached maximum capacity almost immediately and it was virtually impossible to move through the area, even on the other side of the street. Not only were Occupy protesters present for the march, but also several unions and their supporters.

It seems Bloomberg's raids have only succeeded in drawing ten times as many protesters into the streets. 

As the thousands of protesters crossed New York City's most famous bridge, cars honked in solidarity, and someone projected OWS's "99%" logo across the Verizon building. In addition to being located in a visually advantageous spot right beside the Brooklyn Bridge, Verizon has also become something of a popular talking point for certain occupiers given the company's anti-union behavior. (Photo by @OccupyJudaism).

Other projections appeared on the side of the building, including "Occupy Earth," "You are part of a global uprising," and "We are winning." Another "Occupy Together" projection appeared on a building beside Foley Square.

The "99%" photo has been making the rounds on the internet and could become a frontrunner for one of Occupy's most iconic images. However, it may be one of the first positive entries given that its competitors are a photo of an 84-year-old woman who had just been pepper-sprayed by Seattle police and another photo of a woman named SW Yamhill being pepper-sprayed point black by Portland police. (Photos by Joshua Trujillo/, via Associated Press and Randy L. Rasmussen, The Oregonian, respectively).

Last night the NYPD and Bloomberg flipped their strategy of dealing with Occupy, at least temporarily. The last time protesters crossed the Brooklyn Bridge chanting "There's revolution in this town," nearly 700 of them were arrested in one of the largest mass arrests in United States history.

Thousands of more activists again made the journey across the bridge last night, but this time the NYPD kept a remarkably low-key presence. 

Yes, there were still tons of officers present, along with dozens of scooters and police vans, but there weren't the walls of riot police that have become almost a permanent fixture during the Occupy movement. As a result, the mood of the march was jubilant - some might say victorious.


We chat about the OWS protest in the financial district on today's Citizen Radio. Disclaimer: Your hosts have been known to use adult language occasionally.


While the march across the Brooklyn bridge was certainly peaceful, there were a handful of protesters arrested, including Brooklyn City Council Member Jumaane Williams and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. Below is footage of Henry's arrest.


Allison Kilkenny is an In These Times Staff Writer and the co-host of the critically acclaimed radio show Citizen Radio. Her blog for In These Times, Uprising, focuses on efforts around the world to address the global economic crisis.

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