OCCUPY Wall Street protesters have taken to New York’s streets as part of a May Day “general strike” across the US.
Small groups of protesters held simultaneous demonstrations outside a string of Manhattan corporate institutions including the Time-Life building and McGraw Hill publishers in the Rockefeller Centre neighbourhood.
Others were targeting Bank of America and HSBC branches, as well as Disney and The New York Times. “Prosecute the fraud” and “Jobs now,” read two protest placards.
Protests appeared to be peaceful there were only five arrests during early events. This was in stark contrast to previous Occupy marches that have typically ended in scuffles with the police and mass arrests.
However, the disruption and potential for conflict was expected to heat up later today when activists planned to stage a march through lower Manhattan to the Wall Street area.
Activists say they are protesting against corporate greed and the plight of ordinary people in an anemic economy and housing market.
“Hey, hey, BOA, who did you foreclose today?” protesters chanted at a Bank of America office building.
“The movement started in part because of frustrations over the bailouts and how the government handled the economic collapse of 2009,” said protester John Dennehy, 29.
“The feeling within Occupy Wall Street is that people that created the collapse, namely bankers, were helped out, and the people affected by it like homeowners who got foreclosed upon… weren’t helped.”
Similar protests were announced across dozens of US localities and in countries ranging from Spain to Australia.
“While American corporate media has focused on yet another stale election between Wall Street-financed candidates, Occupy has been organising something extraordinary: the first truly nationwide General Strike in US history,” the OWS movement said on its website occupywallst.org.
OCCUPY OAKLAND DISPLAYS DIVERSITY OF TACTICS
From sporadic bank shutdowns to the blockade of Child Protection Services headquarters and a possible reoccupation of Frank Ogawa Plaza, the day’s “unsanctioned” events could cause additional tension between Occupy Oakland and the City.
According to the action’s website, the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition has requested that the 6 a.m. “Occupy the Golden Gate Bridge” action be cancelled. As a result, Occupy Oakland organizer, Lauren Smith, said the first autonomous action of the morning will be the rally and blockade of CPS at 8:30 a.m. The action will be coordinated from the “Anti-Patriarchy” strike station at First and Broadway. Smith said the blockade was a response to the organization’s “use of race, class and homophobia to police mothers and children.”
Two other May Day strike stations will be established throughout the city including an “anti-capitalist” station at Snow Park and an “anti-gentrification” strike station at 22nd and Telegraph. Smith said the primary role of the stations is to support random, autonomous actions throughout the day. They will be used as rally points where protesters can arrive, present their idea and invite marchers to join them.
The strategy, she said, came from the Nov. 2 port shutdown where activists “would leave on a march in downtown Oakland, go close down a few banks and then swing back to Oscar Grant Plaza, only to find another march leaving.”
“The visual image that I would give for it is like popcorn going off all around from 30th down to Jack London Square,” Smith said.
Occupy Oakland plans to also use Frank Ogawa Plaza as a rally point throughout the day and will be the site for a noon gathering that will lead into a 1 p.m. action called “No borders, No Stay Away Orders.” The protest is being coordinated by the OO Anti-Repression Committee.
Smith said the march is “in response to police repression … that will draw a connection between stay away orders for Occupy Oakland and gang injunctions.”
Ogawa Plaza also will be the site for evening activities. At 6 p.m. the Dignity and Resistance march, planned by a coalition of Occupy Oakland and immigrant rights groups, will arrive at the plaza to converge with autonomous action protesters.
Smith said she expects this to be a “peak time” where May Day marchers will be encouraged to learn about Occupy Oakland. She said it will allow people who may not have otherwise been a part of Occupy Oakland, to “choose to join this radical movement.”
PORTS, BANKS TARGETED FOR SHUTDOWN
Organizers want May Day to demonstrate Occupy’s alliances with other movements, some occupy affinity groups are planning more confrontational protests. One anonymous New York-based group, for instance, has vowed to blockade a bridge or tunnel leading into Manhattan.
In California, the International Longshoremen’s Union will shut down the Port of Oakland and some 4,500 members of the California Nurses Association are expected to skip work. Occupy Oakland scuttled a plan for what might have been the most controversial May Day action, a shutdown of the Golden Gate Bridge, after a coalition of striking bridge worker unions backed out. Still, California protesters plan to unveil a squat in San Francisco, hold three simultaneous marches in Oakland, and gum up traffic in Los Angeles with a Critical Mass-style protest on bicycles. Smaller Occupy groups, of course, are also planning protests in cities from Anchorage to Tucson, and any one of them could become a flashpoint.
Among Occupy’s main targets will be the five largest banks, which control a greater share of the economy today than they did on the eve of the financial crisis. With dozens of bank occupations likely to happen, May Day illustrates how the movement has become better organized. But so have the banks. In New York and Chicago, they’ve pooled resources to gather intelligence on protesters. One security consultant likened the cooperation to elks circling against a pack of wolves.
- Occupy Oakland: “We shut down the port!” demonstrators say (Ongoing analysis)
- Words from the Streets: ‘OO’ protestors share why they are there
- BREAKING: Scattered Crowds Continue to Cause Havoc near 14th and Broadway
- Police may be kettling protesters on 14th and Broadway, Fruitvale march moving destination
Occupy Protesters Set Up Barricade To Shutdown Port Of Seattle