The initial reaction by the mainstream media may have been to ignore Occupy Wall Street, but that has passed — although for some, like Fox & Friends and CNN’s Alison Kosik, it’s been replaced by more active ridicule. That hostility could well indicate a growing realization that the Occupy movement isn’t going away; on the contrary, it’s rapidly spreading across North America’s cities, as illustrated by this complete list and map created by Daily Kos. NEW YORK Right now, it looks like today is the day that the involvement of organized labor really pays off, with around 20,000 people reportedly gathered in New York City’s Foley Park to take part in a union solidarity march. Update: As of 7:10pm ET, estimates for the number of people at the march had grown to around 50,000. CNN, meanwhile, has aired dramatic aerial footage of the crowds and describes the protest as “exploding in size.” Update, 8 PM ET: Reports are now coming via Twitter that police have been pepper-spraying demonstrators, using nets to corral them, and making arrests; this may be limited to just the march to Wall St. itself that has taken place. British journalist Laurie Penny from The New Statesman has tweeted that “They’re pepper spraying everyone!” and “Police beating and arresting [people].” Mounted police have also moved in. The Guardian is liveblogging events in New York, as is The Nation’s Greg Mitchell. Salon’s Justin Elliott linked to this video showing protesters and police clashing earlier, and reported around 8.45PM ET that the situation is “getting tense.” This video seems to show an even more damning and undeniable instance of police violence. And in an apparent indication that the NYPD have not discriminated between protesters and even mainstream media, two journalists from Fox 5 were maced or hit by batons. But arrest hasn’t stopped some people from continuing to shoot video, as this footage from inside an NYPD paddywagon shows. Coverage is being livestreamed from multiple mobile cameras at Global Revolution:In These Times’ Allison Kilkenny, who will soon be writing for us about exactly these kind of protests on her new blog Uprising, was Tweeting from the front of the march and has now posted this story for The Nation. Coverage has also been provided today by Laura Flanders, thanks to a collaboration with The UpTake, FreeSpeechTV and other Media Consortium members:
CHICAGO Ryan Williams sent us this update:The Occupy Chicago group has definitely become emboldened by the increase in pressure from the Chicago Police Department, and stepped up their efforts to secure real partnerships and solve a lot of the problems I reported for In These Times earlier this week. Most notably one of the group’s leading volunteers, Mark Banks, says that they have found a place for the core group to sleep at Grace’s Episcopal Church, which he described as a “progressive church.” Grace’s is located in Printer’s Row, about five blocks southeast of the Federal Reserve, and roughly equidistant from the group’s second meeting spot under the Native American Bowman sculpture at Michigan and Congress, which the group lovingly refers to as “the racist Indian.” The group has also started dropping the name of the National Lawyers Guild, something they hadn’t explicitly mentioned on Sunday. There was at least one person wearing a National Lawyers Guild hat who made a point to stand near the crowd in sight of the CPD when an officer came in to ask someone to relocate a backpack that was leaned against a wall. Right now they’re being used as “observers.” At the Tuesday night’s General Assembly, a group of about three or four young white men appeared to be asserting much more structure and taking a very active role in the group discussion, although it was still open to everyone. At that meeting they said they had secured the support of “at least a dozen” organizations, including unions. The only union that the group specifically mentioned was the Taxi Driver’s Union, who they suggested could assist them by offering transportation or even parking their cabs on LaSalle to give them a way to maintain the occupation without violating the sidewalk ordinance. The meetings are being timed now with 75 minute total limits and 2 minute limits on individual proposals. They’re also working with at least a handful of other protests and marches planned for different days to have them culminate at Jackson and LaSalle, in front of the Fed. Some of the core volunteers said that they were well aware of the Bank of America marathon, and that they didn’t plan to relocate on that day. To the contrary, several of them suggested it would present a unique opportunity to be heard. At least a small minority also voiced their dissent with the continued peaceful cooperation with police orders, suggesting that there is a point at which some of them will be willing to risk arrest.This plan to capture wider attention using the Chicago Marathon is confirmed by a blog entry posted this afternoon at a news site run by the group Anonymous:“This Sunday and every day at Occupy Chicago, we too are in a marathon. We’re tirelessly striving for economic equality for all people,” Occupy Chicago participant Natalie said. “Our finish line goal of government acting in the best interests of 99 percent of the population will only be accomplished by creating common ground and solidarity with everyone affected.”Chicago has also been the site of a clearly unrepetant response in the form of signs hung in the windows of the Board of Trade declaring “We Are The 1%” — while this message has caught national attention, it had been removed by early afternoon today. A day after a press release announced that they would be “going mobile,” Occupy Chicago’s shifting relationship with the CPD can be seen by the update posted to their website today, and the dissent Williams describes witnessing can arguably also be seen in some of the comments posted in response. For more on Occupy Chicago, check out this report from Progress Illinois. The group will be taking part in an anti-war protest on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, this Saturday at noon. Update 10 PM CT: In a story dated tomorrow, The Chicago Tribune reports “Occupy Chicago drawing more protesters.” That seems borne out by this photo from tonight’s General Assembly. SEATTLE Occupy Seattle appears to be the latest local movement to have been targeted for eviction by police. Dominic Holden has been live-blogging the day’s events for The Stranger and says that as of 4:08 PM PT, “only one tent remains.” This video purports to show police denying an arrested protester’s request to see his lawyer: The most recent estimate is that there have been 20 arrests. Breaking news (and, of course, rumors) can be found via the #occupyseattle hashtag on Twitter. Update: The Raw Story has a write up of today’s events in Seattle.
Joe Macaré is a writer, editor and development and communications professional, originally hailing from the UK and now residing in Chicago. His writing has appeared at In These Times, TruthOut, AlterNet, Dazed and Confused, The Times, Plan B and Stylus. He has appeared on WBEZ radio and Chicago Newsroom to discuss his extensive coverage of the Occupy Chicago movement.