Posts tagged ‘protest’

October 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Lia and Hallie

On Saturday, October 1, around 20 Bard students decided to go to Wall Street to participate in the march. We arrived at Liberty Square (Zucotti Park) around 1 PM and the space had been transformed from an open courtyard to a congested place symbolizing democracy. The ground was covered with sleeping bags, mattresses, and blankets. There were many homeless people seeking refuge in the square as well as hipster college students and old hippies. And of course, every peaceful protest needs a drum circle! There had been stations set up for donations, media, food, and a library. People were split up into committees, organizing for their specific cause including advocacy for Ron Paul to the Worker’s Vanguard.

At 3 PM Bard students congregated, signs in hand, and began to march with the group that included around 1000 protesters. At first we marched on the sidewalk, chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and “We are the 99%! You are the 99%!” The police patrolled the march, lining up parallel to us on the street. This part of the protest attracted attention from surrounding buildings and tourist buses passing by (for example, women in a hair salon held signs up to the window showing their sympathy with the cause).

Thirty minutes into the protest we approached the pedestrian side of t
he Brooklyn Bridge. Here we made the decision to climb down to the Brooklyn bound road of the bridge. We were not stopped by police, and were not given any warning to disperse (This video at 8 seconds into the video you can see that just police are on the bridge, seemingly leading us on). Bard kids decided to jump over, and follow the pack. At this point, the majority of the people in the march were on the Brooklyn Bridge. We were guided by police onto the bridge, until we came to a stop. The police shoved us from the front, making the occupied space tighter. At this point they started to cattle us, surrounding us with an orange net. We were all waiting for the police to determine our fate of whether or not we would be arrested. Rumors spread back and forth of arrests on either sides. People on the pedestrian pathway were giving “mic checks” in order to provide clear communication. Unfortunately our leader was soon arrested, leaving us in confusion stuck on a bridge. Two hours passed, and it was confirmed that it would be a mass arrest. We patiently waited in the rain singing songs like “Under my Umbrella” and using our signs as rain shields.

We finally got arrested and were handcuffed with plastic cuffs, separated by gender, and put in patty wagons. Hours later we arrived at the police station unsure if we were in Brooklyn or Manhattan because there were no windows while we were traveling. We desperately looked for street signs, subway stops, anything to give us a clue. Our names were taken down and we were eventually guided into a NYPD precinct. We were told that we were at a Brooklyn station and that we could be held up until Monday morning. They stripped us of all our belongings, including shoe laces and belts (so we wouldn’t kill ourselves or anyone else) and were put in a holding cell.

The cell was 5×8 feet, occupied by 24 female bodies. The walls were white cinder blocks, there were florescent lighting on one side, and a bench at the back long enough to hold 4 people. There was no room to sit so we had to strategically take turns sitting on the ground. To pass the time, we sang songs like “Hey Jude” and started a yoga session. We went around and introduced ourselves, our names, ages, where we were from and why we were here. We had to fight for water and the privilege to pee. The restroom had a window on the door facing the desk with the police officers and a male holding cell. This meant no privacy. After eight hours we were released, some of us with Desk Appearance Tickets, others with 1-3 summonses (lucky us, we got 3). We were returned our shoe laces and belongings except (they lost Lia’s and broke her bag). And we were greeted by the National Lawyers Guild and we gave our names to them (they gave us pizza!)

Now we had to journey back to Manhattan and eventually Bard. Once we got out, we didn’t have a perception of where we were and had to envision a map in our heads of the city. We also did not know where some Bard students were located, which was distressing and we had to locate them. We had many missed calls and texts like “YOU’RE IN JAIL?” from students back at Bard, friends, and family wondering where we were and worried about our safety. We took the subway back and slept. We returned to Bard on Sunday.

All in all, it was an amazing experience. We were stripped of all our rights, freedoms, and agency. We think that everyone should experience this at least once in their lives to understand what is like to be a “body” and not a “person”. Events like these redefine a city, by attaching symbols to the space, turning them into places.