Early last September, we were trying to get over to the new drug store on Wall Street (yes, ThePopTort’s in that neighborhood), but we couldn't get there because of police barricades - all because a small group of protesters were marching down the street. “Talk about overreaction,” we thought. “Blocking the street because of a few marchers?”
Hah. Little did we know – nor could we have imagined - that this little march down Wall Street would eventually turn into one of the most significant global movements of our time – Occupy Wall Street. Tomorrow, OWS will mark May 1 - International Workers' Day - with calls for a general strike, marches and protests all over the world. “’We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo … Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue to grow in size and risk,’ the group's press office said in an April 26 e-mail.”
In New York City,
Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by a "unity rally" at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for "evening actions," which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.
Occupy-related events are planned in 115 cities throughout the U.S., from college towns such as Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
But here’s the other thing. As this movement has grown, unfortunately so has some of the “overreaction” by law enforcement. For example, "About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a member of the group's media-relations team."
So today, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, “four City Council members accused JPMorgan Chase & Co., Brookfield Office Properties Inc., Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, of suppressing free speech and using excessive force against protesters.”
They say, “police conduct is so problematic that the force needs an outside monitor.”
The city and police violated demonstrators' free speech rights, used excessive force, arrested protesters on dubious charges and interfered with journalists' and council members' efforts to observe what was going on, the four City Council members and others say in the federal civil rights suit. …
While Occupy activists have gone to court before over particular episodes in the movement's contentious history with the city, the new lawsuit is a nearly 150-page compendium of complaints, amplified by the council members' participation. A local Democratic Party official, freelance journalists and Occupy activists also are plaintiffs.
Their criticisms range from a police official's much-discussed use of pepper spray on penned-in protesters in September to the temporary removal of demonstrators from Manhattan's Union Square in March.
One of the council members who sued, Ydanis Rodriguez, “was accused of resisting arrest while trying to get to the protesters' encampment in lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park as police uprooted them Nov. 15. He emerged with visible scrapes to his head and said police assaulted him. Prosecutors recently dropped the charges against the councilman, saying they couldn't secure the testimony of a key officer in the incident. ‘I feel that the NYPD misused its powers,’ he said.”
Meanwhile, writes The Gothamist,
The Manhattan DA's office has dropped charges against an Occupy Wall Street protester just as the protester's attorney was poised to subpoena Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna. Marisa Holmes was videotaping Bologna discharging pepper spray into a group of protesters when she was charged with obstructing governmental administration. "I would have loved to see 'Tony Baloney' on the stand," Holmes told the Daily News. But Bologna still might get his day in court, as two women have sued Bologna and the city over the incident.
For his actions on September 24, Bologna was docked 10 vacation days and transferred from his considerably more prestigious Manhattan South post to a position in Staten Island, presumably keeping him out of the thick of tomorrow's May Day actions. But if The Vigilogna does show up, don't be surprised if he uses 'ole Spicy again.
Stay safe, New York.