New York City: Zuccotti Park has been re-occupied tonight, the half-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. March 17, 2012
Authorities say dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested as they tore down the barricades surrounding New York City’s Zuccotti Park just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Police say 68 people were arrested during the scuffle. At least one person was accused of assaulting a police officer, who suffered cuts on one hand. Other charges include trespassing, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.
Protester Jason Amadi says he was pepper-sprayed when police tried to prevent the crowd of about 500 demonstrators from taking down the barricades. Amadi says the crowd piled the barricade pieces in the center of the park and stood on top of them, chanting and singing.
Occupy protesters played drums, cymbals and trombones, held group meetings and waved signs with a variety of messages — “Disobedience is civil” and “Sorry to inconvenience your apathy” — as they marked the movement’s third-month anniversary with a major direct action that could give them a new home as authorities continue to shutter camps nationwide.
A few hundred protesters — flanked by police officers — coalesced on a nearly half-acre plot about one mile northwest of their former camp at Zuccotti Park. But their potential new landlord at Duarte Square, Trinity Church, has voiced strong opposition, and the move by Occupy is seen by some as applying strong pressure to them to cave in and let the protesters install themselves.
Under the banner of “Re-Occupy,” the protesters said more than 1,400 people — elders of the civil rights movement, prominent artists, faith leaders and community members — will help them try and set up camp there after they were evicted from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15.
“I’m just loving seeing everybody from Zuccotti Park and it really puts an exclamation point on the (question) that’s been asked today so many times, ‘Do you guys need a space?’ … and the answer is, ‘yes.’ When you walk around and see the familiar faces and the kindred spirits and the unification of effort, then you realize yes we do need a space so that we can all be together and function as whole as a group and move forward, no doubt,” said Thorin Caristo, a 37-year-old protester who is part of an independent livestream team.
As thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters took to the streets on Thursday, journalists once again found themselves a target of police violence and arrests.
Reporters took to Twitter and, in some cases, to television to spread the word of the heavy hand police were using against them. It appeared to be a repeat of a similar scene two days earlier, when journalists were roughed up and arrested as the NYPD forcibly cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan.
Lucy Kafanov, a reporter for the RT television network, said she was hit with a police baton while trying to film the protests. She told another reporter for her network that she had her press credentials clearly visible, but was still struck. She also said that she witnessed another reporter from the IndyMedia network being “slammed against the wall” and arrested.
“It does not seem police are making a distinction between press and protesters,” she said. Other journalists reported similar incidents.
“Saw NYPD hitting a man with a nightstick. Tried to take a picture but police grabbed me and shoved me across the street,” DNAInfo editor Julie Shapiro tweeted. “The NYPD just slammed a barricade into a photographer,” another report read.
The Daily Caller also said that two of its reporters were “assaulted” with batons.
Josh Stearns, a member of media reform group Free Press who has been tracking the arrests of journalists at Occupy movements, estimates that 26 have been arrested in total since the protests began two months ago. On Thursday, that number looked set to grow substantially, as reports of arrests poured in. Baltimore reporter Ryan Harvey and In These Times writer J.A. Meyerson — were reportedly arrested.
In addition, a picture said to be of Keith Gessen, editor of n+1 magazine, being held on the ground by police was tweeted. Gessen and two other journalists were later said to have been arrested, and video footage emerged of Gessen being taken away by police. His case was somewhat different than the others, though, since he appeared to be participating in civil disobedience. He later made a statement to a local ABC station explaining why he had participated in the protests.