The exits on the Wall Street 2/3 train were shut save one. We all shuffled through the congested tunnel, past multiple police, including the “white shirts,” looking exceptionally skittish. Finally out on the streets it looked like the war had come. Each corner was barricaded and entire streets cordoned off by police in riot gear, and mounted units. My fellow commuters and I were forced to skirt the entire Wall Street area, asked to show “employee ID” at certain points in order to be allowed to pass.
Out on Broadway the sidewalk congestion was unbearable. I ventured into the street to make progress. I passed a news van with an open door. Inside, on the monitors, a group of police in riot gear were beating down on a kid, flailing on the ground. The news engineer had his hair in his hands.
“They’re just beating down on his head!” he exclaimed in despair. “These police are just way out of control.”
Further up the block a cop in a riot helmet, brandishing a billy club was saying “Walk on the sidewall.” I moved to go around him but he grabbed my arm, pulling me toward the sidewalk. I gently wrestled free. “Jesus, f*king christ!” was all I could think to say. I was already incensed.
The entrance to The Bank was closed with riot police guarding the fence. Employees were forced another block around in order to get into work. Near my coffee shop a group of civilians was massed around an intersection occupied by riot police. I milled with them. People were shouting slogans and talking. One woman was singing Amazing Grace in operatic tones. Suddenly a group of the cops amassed at one corner. A young black man was gesticulating there. They seemed to talk for a bit. I assumed he was just another person trying to get through the barricaded street. Soon enough he was wrenched into the intersection and handcuffed. Then a cop reached into the crowd on the sidewalk and grabbed another, vaguely black kid, pulling him out onto the street and handcuffing him. I had noticed that kid earlier and had seen that he had broken no rule of law or even general morality. He had simply been standing there. He yelled as he was handcuffed. “I have broken no law. I have done nothing wrong.” quite coherently.
People in the crowd acknowledged that they had seen he was just standing there quietly. Someone took his name and entered it into their phone.
The hour was drawing near and I crossed the line of riot police to enter The Bank. I showed my Food Co-op ID and was allowed in. Inside, traveling up the elevator, I felt disgusted with myself. How could I quietly go to work when the police my tax dollars employ were preventing me from walking the streets my tax dollars maintain, all because they had misguidedly decided to “crack down” on a peaceful protest? Nowhere during the morning were more than 50 protestors amasses. If there was a central protest happening I couldn’t see it. If I knew where it was I couldn’t get there. The only uncivilized behavior I could see was coming from tense police in riot gear obstructing public streets under some fabricated pretense that I doubt they could even verbalise. I am certain the Mayor eloquently speechified some imminent physical, or hygenic danger. Yes, there is danger, but it’s not coming from the protesters
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