The Birthday of Occupy: Reflections on New York's Fattest
There were several other “meetup” areas surrounding Wall Street with, I’m told, similar numbers of people, plus lots of freelancers who had their own plans. Nobody knows what the real numbers were, but when the corporate media estimated “less than a thousand,” as they all did, it’s because they didn’t understand what was going on. There was never a single mass of people in one place to count. The point was disruption, not a mass rally
We discussed strategy informally and formally in general assembly from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and then took off in the direction of Wall Street. The idea was to “civilian” (yeah, that’s a verb) and proceed in small groups as normal pedestrians and seize on opportunities to cause nonviolent chaos as they arose. This really messed up the morbidly obese cops on motor scooters, because they prefer to stay in lines to intimidate demonstrators into remaining on the sidewalk. Since we weren’t demonstrating, and were going every which way on the confusing and windy streets of the financial district, the motor scooters had no one to herd and couldn’t figure out where to go.
My small affinity group (or AG) was mostly personal friends from Brooklyn, all gainfully employed and thoroughly disillusioned with capitalism, numbering from six to ten over the course of the morning. We didn’t quite know what we were doing at first, but latched on to a black bloc anarchist group at 9:20 who had the moves for tying up an intersection. I had previously thought of blocking an intersection as sitting down in the middle of the street and refusing to move until the cops came and administered a dose of pepper spray. The anarchists had a technique of “swirling,” which means a bunch of people walk around in a big circle from corner to corner, never letting cars through. It causes a big traffic jam, particularly in the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan, and the police have a hard time getting there. When they do arrive, the swirl goes civilian and everybody runs off to the next unguarded intersection. The police strategy of barricading Wall Street and demanding company IDs from pedestrians was irrelevant. We caused traffic jams wherever the police weren’t. I would guess that a thousand cops were chasing many thousand demonstrators all day and catching very few. It was mass confusion, and it was fun.
So my mostly Brooklyn AG joined the anarchists in a rousing chant of “1-2-3-4, this is fucking class war! 5-6-7-8, eat the rich and smash the state!” as we swirled around an intersection a couple blocks south of Wall Street. It was too much for some asshole in an $80,000 Porsche, who nudged his honking way into and out of the swirl, taking off at a high rate of speed, until he hit the next traffic jam a block away.