The “Crossroads of the World” were jammed when thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters brought their party to Times Square, creating pandemonium as chanting masses collided with tourists and theatergoers and resulting in over 40 arrests.
Shouting, “This is what democracy looks like,” throngs of protesters energized by yesterday’s [i.e. Friday morning, October 14] victory in the face of possible eviction from their Zuccotti Park shantytown formed inside metal police barricades.[LA replies: Exactly. That’s why the Founders of the United States opposed and feared “democracy” and sought instead to create a federal constitutional republic—because to them democracy meant mob rule. Also, “shantytown” is the right word. That’s the word I should have used in my description of Zucotti Park.]
Police, some in riot gear and mounted on horses, tried to push them out of the square and onto the sidewalks in an attempt to funnel the crowds away.
Sandy Peterson of Salt Lake City, who was in Times Square after seeing “The Book of Mormon” musical on Broadway, got caught up in the disorder.
“We’re getting out of here before this gets ugly,” she said.
PHOTOS: PROTESTERS TAKE TIMES SQ.
Sandra Fox, 69, of Baton Rouge, La., stood, confused, on 46th Street with a ticket for “Anything Goes” in her hand as riot police pushed a knot of about 200 shouting protesters toward her.
“I think it’s horrible what they’re doing,” she said of the protesters. “These people need to go get jobs.”
Police arrested 42 protesters at Times Square, but cops appeared eager to avoid a confrontation.
One group of police officers massed on a side street that had been blocked by protesters entering Times Square — some on motorcycles and others on foot armed with batons and plastic handcuffs. But just as the officers began to force their way into the crowd, a group of senior officers arrived and appeared to tell the cops to fall back. The police retreated and allowed protesters on the sidewalks to fill another portion of the street.
Protesters chanted “police are the 99%” and “this is a nonviolent protest” during the near-confrontation.
Earlier, 24 protesters were arrested when a mob stormed a LaGuardia Place Citibank [in Greenwich Village] and shouted slogans as two demonstrators closed their bank accounts in protest just after 2 p.m.
“[The protesters] all went in a big flash mob to close their accounts,” said Adrielle Slaugh,a 24-year-old office manager who saw the clash. “There were about 30 of them. They were screaming and chanting while they were going in. Security told them to leave, but they didn’t. They stood in a group chanting things to the tellers. There were locked in, and then they were taken away.”
Angel Chevresst HANDS ON: A cop grabs a protester during a tense moment in Times Square.
She said when they were locked inside, they were “pressing on the door — you could see them banging on the glass.”
Protester Hillary Caldwell, 27, a graduate student from Harlem, said demonstrators were complaining about their student loans when they were locked inside and arrested.
“We went into the bank to peacefully protest,” she said. “People were standing in the bank giving testimonials, speaking about their student debt, some of which is held by Citibank and a few undercover police officers came into the bank.”
She said she left and about 5 minutes later, one protester ran out and announced police were “locking the doors. They let a few customers out and then tons of police were converging on the bank.” [LA replies: Well gosh, honey, that’s what’s happens to you when you invade a bank.]
Elswehere, the mood was more peaceful.
After donning the donated duds at the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park, protesters strode to JP Morgan Chase bank buildings in the financial district, banging drums and chanting, “We got sold out, banks got bailed out.”
“Today is going to be a good day,” said Alita Edgar, 31, a costume designer from Brooklyn, was part of a team offering free tailoring and haircuts for protesters.
“It is a friendly atmosphere. I am excited that the people’s voices are being heard. There has been a lot of frustration.”
The bank facilities were closed for the most part, keeping protesters outside for short rallies before they plodded onto other facilities on their way to Greenwich Village for a rally at Washington Square.
“I’m taking all my money out of Chase,” railed Franky Lopez, 32, a graphic designer.
“I had my assets frozen by them a few weeks ago, and when they unfroze them, they issued me a whole bunch of fees.”
He said he paid $559 annually in fees to the bank, including late charges.
“I’ve been wanting to move my money for awhile. But this opened my eyes,” he said of his experiences. “I’m going to use a community-based bank for my funds.”
Marchers were energized by officials’ backing off on Friday from efforts to empty Zuccotti Park for a formal cleaning — and then preventing protesters from returning with any sleeping bags or other survival supplies.
The protesters have been encamped at the private park since Sept. 17.
AFP/Getty Images Occupy Wall Street participants try to push trough police barricade as the authorities try and stop them from entering Times Square
But even after the victory, there were tense clashes with cops as some protesters took to the streets in the financial district on Friday morning.
This morning, Commissioner Ray Kelly remarked that pictures of officers wrestling with those marchers didn’t tell the whole story.
“When you see a picture you have to look at the whole sequence of events,” he said. “Obviously, this was a very disruptive situation, and they were trying to make arrests at that time. Sometimes force is used. The police are authorized to use force. Sometimes these are not neat situations — they can get tumultuous.”
EPA An occupy wall street protester gets arrested while marching up Sixth Avenue to Times Square.
Protesters said they do not have any police permits.
“It’s not every day that you get to be at the most significant uprising in a generation,” Occupy Wall Street said on its Facebook page.
The protesters are upset that the billions of dollars in bank bailouts doled out during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.
They also believe the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share in taxes.
Getty Images Demonstrators associated with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement protest in Times Square.
“I’m 59 — I’m in the middle class,” said one suburban mom who brought her teenage daughter to the protest. She said she works a “corporate” job.
“I have a 401K, but it’s been slowly depleted to the point that I can’t retire,and if I lose my job, I don’t think I’ll be able to find another one,” she said.
“I brought my 16-year-old daughter with me because I’m scared for her future. What does she have to look forward to? No jobs, no savings. People have cheated and screwed up, and now we have to help them. I don’t want to.”
Another protester said he thought the message was having an effect.
“These protests are already making a difference,” said Jordan Smith, 25, a former substance abuse counselor from San Francisco, who has been at the New York park for 10 days. “The dialogue is now happening all over the world.”
Charlie Myers, 20, from Little Rock, Ark., left college a week ago to join protest and admitted sleeping out in the park was tough “but it’s worth it.”
“This is everything humanity has ever strived for,” Myers said.