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Thousands of Protesters Descend on NYC’s Financial District for #FloodWallStreet [UPDATED]

In Battery Park (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
In Battery Park (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of people gathered to march through the streets of Midtown Manhattan and send a message about the need to address global warming. This morning, beginning at 9am, another swarm of environmental protesters gathered in Manhattan, this time downtown, to make a more pointed statement. #FloodWallStreet aims to “Stop Capitalism. End the Climate Crisis,” according to its slogan. “On the heels of the largest-ever march on climate change, we have an opportunity to transform the economic system driving this crisis,” the website says.

Seen in Battery Park (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Seen in Battery Park (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Hyperallergic’s Mostafa Heddaya and Hrag Vartanian are reporting live from the protest, which includes many former Occupy Wall Street activists and artists among its ranks. According to Heddaya and Vartanian, there “significant crowds” in attendance; by the organizers’ count, some 2,600 people convened at Battery Park this morning, where Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, and others were scheduled to give speeches. Afterwards the group set off to march into the financial district and stage a sit-in on Broadway right near the famous “Charging Bull” sculpture.

Protesters sitting down on Broadway (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Protesters sitting down on Broadway (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Heavy media presence around protesters (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Heavy media presence around sit-in protesters (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Drone balloon camera (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Drone balloon camera (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
A police van convoy driving up the Broadway fork (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
A police van convoy driving up the Broadway fork (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Police filming protesters (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Police filming protesters (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
A protester (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
A protester (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Unfurling a banner (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Unfurling a banner (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

The group also had a large inflatable ball — called the “carbon bubble” — with them, which the NYPD (predictably) popped.

Protesters repairing the carbon bubble (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Protesters repairing the carbon bubble (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)

According to Vartanian, there was a second inflatable bubble, which the police confiscated. He also reports that officers have penned in protesters with barricades, but people have managed to dismantle some of them.

All morning, protesters have been chanting: “People gonna rise like the water, we gonna shut this crisis down. I hear the voice of my great granddaughter, saying shut down Wall Street now.” Some have now taken up the Twister Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

Panorama of the corner of Morris and Broadway (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)
Panorama of the corner of Morris and Broadway (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Traffic on Broadway is apparently stopped now, but Heddaya caught this video of a protester-filled tour bus rolling by:

1:37pm ET: A puppet show has begun among the crowds, thanks to the Bread and Puppet Theater.

FloodWallSt-puppets

Puppeteer and self-described “amateur clown” Mack Roach — the man with the red nose in the photo above — told us he did a lot of clowning at yesterday’s march and is there today to help ease expected tensions. “You see a lot of people that are having a rough time, or you know, there’s a lot of circumstances that can happen, and I’m just here to try to lighten things up and also be a distraction from any adverse situation that should happen between us and police.”

Mack Roach the clown (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Mack Roach the clown (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

We also have unconfirmed reports of an arrest.

2:00pm ET: On Twitter, preservationist Theodore Grunewald points out the symbolism in protesters amassing outside 26 Broadway:

Grunewald-tweet

And another reader is amused by one of our photos:

ConnorRiley-tweet2

2:33pm ET: Some of the barricades, though not all, have been dismantled, and Heddaya and Vartanian report that the atmosphere has become reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street: people are hanging out and socializing, festive and jovial, while political discussions carry on.

 Protesters on barricades (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Protesters on barricades (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

3:05pm ET: Puppet theater continues …

Political puppet theater (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Political puppet theater (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

And others have picked up the theatrical thread as well:

Activist street theater (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Activist street theater (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)

4:00pm ET: After a long period without movement, the protestors are marching once again, heading up Broadway by Rector Street. Police have removed barricades at Exchange Pl, and the crowd is chanting, “We are unstoppable; another world is possible.”

A group of protesters made a break for blocked-off Wall Street, and at least one person was arrested, another on the ground.

Photos before, during, and after the attempted breech at Wall Street:

Before (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Before (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Attempting to break through (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Attempting to break through (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
The crowd (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
The crowd (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Police presence (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
Police presence (photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)

The situation now appears to be stable, with more barricades in place.

4:13pm ET: The organizers’ call for pizza has been answered, with about 40 pies being distributed.

(photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)
(photo by Mostafa Heddaya/Hyperallergic)

Meanwhile, a very heavy police presence is massing at Broadway and Pine St, including a large truck with barricades pulling up.

(photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
(photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

4:25pm ET: A simply great photo. Note that these police are wearing riot gear.

(photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
(photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

4:34pm ET: Both police and protesters seem to be consolidating. The protesters are sitting down at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street, while NYPD officers are mounted on horseback down Wall.

Protesters sitting at the corner of Broadway and Wall St. (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Protesters sitting at the corner of Broadway and Wall St. (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

4:52pm ET: Protesters have releasd blueish-purple powder into the air.

floodwallstreet-12-1280
Protesters release powder (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
floodwallstreet-15-1280
Protesters release powder (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

5:35pm ET: A man is throwing money at the crowd on the corner of Wall St.

Man throwing money (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Man throwing money (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

5:45pm ET: We ran into the artist Martha Rosler and asked her a few questions.

Martha Rosler (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
Martha Rosler (photo by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Hrag Vartanian: I just wanted to ask why you’re here today.

Martha Rosler: I’m here today because I don’t have any other choice. This is where things are happening, feet on the streets. This is a crisis that’s building like crazy, and it’s completely entangled with questions of capitalism and its control of the economy and the rape of the earth. And what better place to make that point than Wall Street, while the Climate Summit is going on? I marched in the feel-good march yesterday, and I’m here today to say: let’s get real about what needs to be done.

HV: And what do you think, as an artist or in the art community — what do you think our role is in this struggle?

MR: Well, our role is to be citizens first and foremost, and also to lend our inventiveness and capacity to the movement and help create many of the beautiful images that people are capable of creating without us, but certainly could do better with us!

HV: What do you think of the general mood or what you’re actually seeing — does this make you optimistic … ?

MR: I’m always optimistic. As long as people are here, there’s reason for optimisim. I was carrying one of the big floaty things, and a young woman turned to me and said, “thank you for being here.” And I turned to her and said, “thank you for being here.” As long as the generations pass along the struggle and don’t give up, something’s going to give, because, as I keep on saying, the crisis is real.

HV: Do you see anything different this time?

MR: Well, different from which time?

HV: From any time — anything that sticks out to you that’s different from the last few years, something that reminds you of a previous protest you’ve been to …

MR: I wouldn’t put it that way. I would paraphrase King and say: the arc of history bends toward justice. But of course it doesn’t bend at the pace we’d like it to. There are always movements forward and movement back. This is clearly building on Occupy; Occupy hasn’t gone away, and it’s not going to go away.

*   *   *

I (Jillian) am concluding my liveblog and Mostafa will be taking over from here.

*   *   *

7:04pm ET: At the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, the remaining group of sitting protestors — numbering in the low dozens — have been instructed by the NYPD to disperse, kettled, and further informed via loudspeaker that they are subject to arrest for disorderly conduct, as well as any supplementary charges of resisting should they need to be carried or otherwise moved by officers. (See StopMotionsolo’s livestream here; screenshot follows.)

screen_shot_2014-09-22_at_6.58.47_pm (1)

7:14pm ET: Via loudspeaker, the NYPD has once again apprised the protestors of the charges they are facing.

7:22pm ET: Protestors are chanting the name of Eric Garner, among other slogans. Officers have begun arrests, including a person in a polar bear suit:

7:43pm ET: Arrests ongoing. All protestors giving themselves up so far. Here’s one two:

8:02pm ET: All but around a half-dozen protestors have now gone willingly. The group of remaining protestors, which appears to include two individuals wheelchairs, has re-formed into a tighter circle as (peaceful) arrests continue.

8:10pm ET: All the arrests appear to have been completed peacefully; police are now pushing barricades back onto the sidewalks on Broadway. Police on scooters can be seen driving through the newly cleared street.

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