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I am a livestreamer for Occupy Wall Street and I want to make note of something. Whenever I’m livestreaming, and I stream police officers in riot gear, I am NOT streaming them for the sake of ridicule or insult.
During most marches it is pretty obvious that Occupiers just walk forward and 90% of us remain nonviolent, respectful, and responsible the entire time. If I film an arrest taking place, it’s because it is my duty as a streamer to do so. However, if I just stream a line of motorcycles, or a line of 10 police in riot gear, or 30 police officers standing around 30 protesters (when they are not interacting with the protesters besides following us), I am streaming them for one reason: A comment on a lack of efficient use of resources by the NYPD. By this I mean the commissioner, or the individual who decides where police officers are stationed, and how many are used.
Speaking from personal experience there is ABSOLUTELY no way in world that if there is a march of 20 people, half of whom are middle-aged citizens, there is a need for 20 police officers to walk next to us. I can understand stationing up to 10 officers. However, if there is no guarantee of a riot, and there never is, there is no reason to have so many officers. There are a good number of precincts all around the boroughs in New York. If need be the officers on duty can radio for back-up and a multitude of officers can EASILY arrive in seconds. Therefore there is a serious lack of judgement on the part of whomever it is deciding who is stationed, where they are stationed, and how many are stationed. Furthermore, this is a WASTE of tax dollars.
Having said this, please watch my livestream channel at www.ustream.tv/user/stopmotionsolo
My twitter handle is @stopmotionsolo follow me and whenever I am about to stream I will send out a tweet about it.
You can also watch www.globalrevolution.tv for the “official” studio feed of the protests, which splices several feeds together for different angles.
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I was hanging out at the Occupy office a few days ago having a discussion about the following issue:
There are plenty of people in this country with very sub-par internet connections. Due to monopolies, providers have no interest in providing better services as they are faced with little to no competition. The public suffers greatly as a result of this. The providers also keep raising their rates and losing customers because their customers simply cannot afford said rates. The discussion then turned to the United States Postal Service’s recent filing for bankruptcy.
I said, “Well, yeah, things like Gmail made mail delivery instantaneous.” The person responded, “Yeah, but the postal service is a country-wide entity, instead of just filing for bankruptcy why didn’t they try and compete with the internet providers? Make their own internet service. It would be the perfect adaptation with the times, and they wouldn’t have to go out of business.”
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(NOTE: I will be a livestreamer for future events so if you are interested follow me @stopmotionsolo on twitter and my watch www.ustream.tv/user/stopmotionsolo)
I don’t think I’ve ever had a more exciting New Year’s Eve. I’m going to try to recount the night’s events chronologically… This might be difficult haha.
I got to Zuccotti Park around 9 o’clock at night. The General Assembly is in session and the Police are not letting anyone enter the park because the protesters have pitched a small tent and are surrounding it. I head to the top of the steps on Broadway to at least hear what is being discussed in the General Assembly. This didn’t really help much because of the general commotion and the lack of mic checking for those outside the barricades. I am offered a chance to hop the fence, I decline with the impression that there’s no rush.
Now the police are entering the park to remove the tent. I head to the entrance area of the barricades to see what’s up. The police leave the park with the tent and there’s is a great deal of arguing. Police remaining silent and focused, protesters yelling at them asking “is this really your job?!!” The Police continue to seal off the park as some protesters try to push their way in to no avail. At one point an officer pushes a protester, cue EVERY camera. The officers regain their composure immediately. Tensions remain for a few more moments until we are finally allowed into Liberty Square. I should say that this tension exists throughout the duration of the entire night.
Now I’m inside the park and some people are holding an American flag and gathering by a wall. A disclaimer is offered by a fellow protester saying “you can stay by the wall running the risk of being escorted out, or you can come away from it and have a good time.”
Tensions remain high but we are all having quite a good time. Time to march. We head to the Wall Street bull. Large crowd here as well. Plenty of people chanting “Whose Bull?!! OUR BULL!!” A few people dancing in the street, one person doing what appears to be ballet. After remaining there for a few minutes we decided to head to back down Broadway, with a surprise change of direction at Wall Street. At this point I’m on high alert because the protesters are acting far more unpredictable than I am used to. As we head down Wall Street we take a quick stop at a statue of George Washington outside Federal Hall to stand with it and wave our flags as true Patriots. Watching us as we do so are two three policemen on horses with the New York Stock Exchange and the blood-red beam of light painting its columns.
Now we continue on down Wall Street. Here and there a few people knock over barricades while the majority are just having a good time. One person keeps doing trapeze acrobatics on scaffolding. The police keep telling us to get out of the street, this will be a recurring theme throughout the rest of the night. I should also comment on another chant I hear at one point. “Who’s in charge?!! No one.” I think that’s obvious at this point fellas.
We turn two corners and head back up to Broadway. I say to the scaffold gymnast as he’s in the process of a routine “Dude, it’s probably not best to be up there right now.” Another protester approaches me at this point and says “Dude, when you tell someone not to do something it offends me. We have to stand in solidarity with one another.” My response to him, “If someone had a gun and was about to kill someone, and I told them to stop would you have a problem with me then.” He was a little conflicted at this point and lacking a response. I just said “I don’t want this kid to get arrested.” His response “That’s his choice.” This much I have to agree on. What I should have said instead was “For safety reasons, I want him to stop.” According to the Occupy Wall Street Principles of Solidarity a “block” is something used only for strong moral, ethical or safety concerns. This would have been the most appropriate response at this point but whatever.
Next we take a stop by a bunch of steps for a quick moment of chanting and then a short moment of silence for those dying in Cairo and other oppressed places around the world. Someone then does a quick mic-check. “Excuse me” (crowd repeats) “This is very important.” “Does anyone have…” “A cigarette.” Everyone laughs.
Now the crowd decides to go back to Zuccotti Park. Once we get back it’s pretty fun, but people are already trying to take down the barricades here and there. All the police are in Times Square to supervise the ball drop crowd so there aren’t more than maybe 50 cops by Zuccotti. At this point, in an attempt to just keep order on things, I do a mic-check myself. “Attention” “Please, I want everyone to have a good time” “It’s New Years” “Protest” “But” “Be mindful” “There are children here” “We don’t them getting hurt” “Try to be safe” “As we express our rights.” More than likely parents have taken their kids home by now but I figured I’d try and say something to keep a lid on things.
Didn’t work too well. Now is when things start to get insane. The group which had been doing a noise demo by the nearby precinct at 150 park row in protest of the Prison Industrial Complex returns to the park. The energy rises. Now there is a scuffle by the side closest to Wall Street. I am staying clear on the opposite side of the park from this and inching my way forward. Reports are mace was used. Arrests are made. Next thing I know someone is walking towards me with a metal barricade over their head.
This begins the next phase of the night. Reclaiming the park. Over the course of the next 30 minutes a massive pile of metal barricades grows in the middle of Liberty Square as protesters keep removing the gates. Next, people are standing on the gates chanting “All week, all year, we’ll still be here.” The other, more ironic chant from atop the pile of gates was “love!” It’s a massive party though at this point. Complete with people waving American flags from above the pile of gates and some people holding the OCCUPY WALL STREET banner. It was awesome.
That pretty much sums up the first part of the night. Midnight comes and EVERYONE is in massive celebration. A champagne bottle is popped and sprayed across the protesters, I’m confident I smell some marijuana. Everyone is dancing and a few were chanting “A-Anti-Anti-capi-talis-ta.”
I needed to sit down at this point and take a breather. As soon as I sit down I see someone looking sick. She says she has a stomach ache so I get her some water. Now I can sit down. My feet thank me.
I remain seated for about 10 minutes. Someone asks me if I think this will get any media coverage. My response “Doubtful, there’s no media here. Also the media has blacked this out and put the movement off as dead.” I tell him that at this point, as the media has played off the movement as being dead it’s up to us to spread the word and grow the movement. We’re not gonna get any more help.
The decision now is to march again. (Note: at this point in the story I will only mention a few street names here and there because the direction was, well, all over the place). We start on Trinity Place and march for about a block before heading towards Broadway. We then turn left. Pretty much the entire night we keep going into the streets, despite continued police efforts to get us out of the streets. We take a left turn away from City hall, reach Trinity Place and take another left back towards Zuccotti. Ultimately we end up on Broadway again. We’re all just having a good time. There’s no other way to put it. A few people toss over a garbage can, or knock over a traffic cone here and there, but the majority are just walking forward not causing any trouble.
After walking for a few blocks on Broadways we take a right turn away from city hall and continue for a few blocks before turning left. We are heading in the direction of Foley Square at this point. Pretty much the entire time we are in the streets. Traffic was slow though so we didn’t disrupt much. Here and there a few by standers were cheering us on as we marched. After about a block the Police start rushing up behind us and everyone starts rushing forward. They keep trying to get us onto the sidewalks but it’s accomplishing absolutely nothing.
At Beekman and Nassau Streets is when I saw the most messed up part of the night, and I wish I got this on film. From a diagonal view across the intersection, as marchers were crossing and not causing any trouble (if you consider marching trouble you should be ashamed of yourself), a Police car drives up and stops short almost hitting the protesters. Three protesters had to jump backward out of the way of the car because I can guarantee their legs would have been hit had they not. The cops immediately got out of the car to see if any damage had been caused of course.
Now, because of construction we had to pick a side of the street on Nassau because the street is blocked for cars. Essentially we had to walk through a space that was probably smaller than the sidewalk normally is. I enter the left sidewalk. When I get to the end, there are Police officers standing in the way preventing us from continuing. I am nerved at this point and then think to just go back and hope I can turn right and head back in the direction of Park Row (City Hall Park).
It works out fine and upon arriving at Park Row I see a line of probably about 20 Police motorcycles driving past me. You can tell the Police are getting really pissed at us, even though we’re just walking around not breaking anything, harming anyone, and not obstructing the lack of any traffic to be found. Regardless, I and a few others head towards Foley Square. Once arriving at Foley Square we all turn left and head back to Broadway.
Once we get to Broadway we turn right and the direction from here on is straight to Canal Street. Some march in the streets but many on the sidewalks as well. Traffic is slowed, here and there and some taxis honk their horns in support. They fist pumped as they honked so it was definitely support. At certain points the police use their motorcycles to create barriers that force us onto the sidewalks, but then we just walk back into the streets afterward.
After reaching Canal we continue forward maybe 5 more blocks before turning left for a block and then turning right again. Now things get interesting. There are some barricades naturally in the street, the big plastic ones, some are knocked over and some are just moved aside. It is worth noting that a few protesters actually work together to put the barricades that had been knocked over back in place. As I walk forward I sense something from behind me. This is just in time for a Police officer to give me a hard nudge to the side as he rushes forward to grab another marcher, pin him against a building, and then throw him violently against the ground. As he hits the ground his feet fly into the air with momentum. Lots of police gather around this protester and so does a crowd of protesters. After a few seconds of shock I start screaming “FILM!!! FILM!!! FILM!!!” Cameras go crazy.
I look ahead now, the police have blocked off the entire street, sidewalks included, with their motorcycles. I’m staying away from the crowd which is taking pictures (my phone has died by this point) of the arrest and squeeze between a building and the wheel of a police motorcycle to get onto the next block. (I do not know where this was because I wasn’t paying attention to the street signs but we were in SOHO I believe). At this point a couple on a New Year’s date happens by the action. I offer them a “happy new year!” They return the sentiment and ask what’s up. I say “It’s Occupy Wall Street.” They say “oh, haha, cool” As the police are now blocking the entire street from ANY traffic at all protesters start chanting “YOU’RE OBSTRUCTING PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC!!! YOU’RE OBSTRUCTING PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC!!!”
I cross the street to the other side where the Police barricade is actually restricting people from leaving a bar. I see a protester get grabbed by a Police Officer and rammed into the building behind him, it seems unprovoked but at this point who knows. Next, I can’t tell if this man is coming out of the bar or a protester, but as he is blocked from leaving he starts questioning the officer “What are you doing? What are you doing?” He was not yelling but had a look of utter confusion and horror on his face. At this point I start chanting “LET’S MOVE ON!! LET’S MOVE ON!!” Hoping this will clear the scene, I get a few nods of approval from other people in the area and we start marching again. If it matters, we’ve made a left from the block that was just barricaded.
Now we’re marching down the street again, plenty of people in the street, and a few proudly holding the “OCCUPY WALL STREET” banner. The cops knock through this and push a female protester aside to grab another protester to arrest him. This time I immediately start screaming “FILM!!! FILM!!! FILM!!!” The cameras go nuts. This doesn’t last too long and we keep walking. It’s relatively tame for a moment now as we actually walk on the sidewalk.
We keep walking and end up on West Houston. I should mention that as we get to West Houston the Police have set up another blockade to contain us. As we move maneuver around their blockade I can hear a Policeman saying into his megaphone “If you are blocking traffic you are subject to arrest.” Some people are once again arrested at this point and throughout the march since about Canal Street we have been accompanied by a Police van. They need to be prepared to arrest us right away the cars are no longer of enough use apparently. We make a left turn onto West Houston and after crossing the street quickly, I cross back over to join in with the marchers again.
Things are tame where I am again but of course tensions are growing. It seems like the protest has tripled in size by this point. We continue on West Houston until 6th Ave I believe (Avenue of the Americas if the title actually matters that much to you). Then we follow 6th Ave until a certain point where we veered left (it escapes me which block we veered left onto). However as soon as we veer left another person was arrested. An officer actually dropped his megaphone to the ground as he carried out the arrest as well.
We end up getting to another block in the road at 7th Avenue. I take this opportunity to go into a bar and wash my hands. Just my luck… it seems like a gay bar (excuse the irony of needing to wash my hands in what seems to be a gay bar).
By the time I get out the protesters have passed and have continued on 7th Avenue. I start making my way up 7th Avenue to rejoin them. It’s not hard to find them, just look for the Police presence. By the way, at this point we are being watched by a Police chopper. Just one though, so we’re not that special tonight.
We continue on 7th Avenue until West 12 or 13 Street at which point we turn right. We are remaining on the sidewalks by this point. I also meet up with a fellow livestreamer at this point as well. He tells me he was at the noise demo in protest of the Prison Industrial Complex earlier on. Apparently, it went really well and even the inmates started flickering their lights to say hello to us.
This is pretty much the end for me. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning now. I start heading from West 13 Street and 7th avenue to Union Square to catch the Q train. I can easily say that I have never had a more exhilarating and eventful New Year’s Eve in my entire life.
The one thing I learned from all of this… I REALLY need to get my own livestreaming gear so I can get this stuff on camera. There was too much happening for it to not get exposed in as many ways as possible.
By the way, if you heard nothing about this march AT ALL in any news source. Question the sources from which you receive your news. Also, Zuccotti Park is now indefinitely closed to the public apparently. So essentially the park is essentially nothing more than an installment.
Once again follow me on twitter @stopmotionsolo
I will livestream at www.ustream.tv/user/stopmotionsolo