700 protestors were arrested this Saturday in New York City as part of a major march on the Brooklyn Bridge. The march was part of the ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement taking place in Zuccotti Park across the street from the site of the former World Trade Center. The Brooklyn Bridge march was one of many marches being led out of the park over the course of the occupation, now entering its third week.
According to protesters who stayed on the pedestrian walkway, some were arrested because they were blocking the bridge’s roadway. A number of marchers, however, claimed that the police encouraged people to take the roadway. The NYPD released a video showing the police announcing to protesters that they would be arrested if they blocked the roadway, but many protesters, both on the roadway and on the pedestrian walkway, said they didn’t hear the warnings. Many protesters felt as if the police were leading protesters onto the roadway and trying to protect them from harm by accompanying them on the march, as is shown in many videos recorded at the scene. This caused many to feel trapped when suddenly the police stopped the march and surrounded the marchers with orange netting. The police then proceeded to slowly arrest protesters one by one. Some protesters towards the Manhattan side of the large group on the bridge were not arrested and let go. According to one, the police only released women. Those who were arrested were transported by MTA buses commandeered by the police with drivers being forced to transport the prisoners. The National Lawyers Guild, which has been working with the Occupy Wall Street movement, claims that these buses delivered the prisoners to multiple precincts throughout the city.
The march was organized and launched from Zuccotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street movement is based. The group began occupying Zuccotti Park, which it renamed Liberty Square on September 17. There, it has developed a form of organization structured around working groups which are open to anyone to join, including the food working group which organizes the meals, the comfort group which provides for people’s sleeping conditions, the team that addresses legal concerns of the movement, and the direct action team which organizes the marches and does training in direct action tactics. This is all coordinated through general assembly meetings, which are meetings open to everyone where representatives from each group report back to the larger group. During these meetings, decisions are made through consensus among those at the meetings.
As the occupation continues and media coverage improves, more and more people have been arriving to participate. Recently, multiple labor unions have pledged support for the occupiers, including the Transit Workers Union and SEIU 1199. A major march with numerous major unions is planned for this Wednesday.
Occupations have also begun in various cities around the country. As of this printing, the group still has no set demands. A “declaration of occupation” put out by the group has listed a wide variety of grievances from the poisoning of the food supply due to negligence of the influence money has on politics.