UPDATED: Occupying Wall Street: Stateside Protests Begin in NYC

Originally posted Sept. 17, 2011

It’s a beautiful fall day in Manhattan and an estimated 2,000 people have converged on Wall Street’s Bowling Green Park and the NYC General Assembly to protest the U.S. corporate system and set up an encampment, the likes of which we’ve seen earlier in the year in Tunis, Cairo, Barcelona and other cities.

Organized online and on Twitter, the movement to occupy Wall Street was originally the impetus of Adbusters, who on July 13 posted a call for action that spiraled into a number of groups taking up the banner of protest, including those well-known activists Code Pink, Take the Square and Anonymous, as well as U.S. Day of Rage, which is planning a similar takeover of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. later this year.

“On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices,” said the release. “Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?”

An orientation guide was distributed through OccupyWallStreet.org, which also partnered with locals to create a community-run sign-up sheet for out-of-towners needing to crash.

Today, it seems there’s been success, at least in getting a raucous group of people to organize in the streets of New York City. The groups chanted “Free the people, don’t free the banks,” as they thumped drums and attempted to form a conga line.

GlobalRevolution is live streaming the events, including interviews with some protesters on the ground, supplemented by a live chat, streaming in the sidebar faster than it can be read.

“It’s been a long, beautiful day,” said one organizer into the GlobalRevolution livestream camera, urging residents of New York to join in. “This movement is growing, this is people power, we can all support each other, we can all protect each other,” he said, before reminding those watching the stream, “Don’t miss dinner at 6 o’clock,” which will be a communal meal.

Twitter, as expected, has played a large part in spreading the message, although a significant number of users are alleging the the original hashtag, #OccupyWallStreet, has been blocked by Twitter. However, the alternate #takewallstreet began trending in the U.S. around 3 p.m. today. Users have also been uploading and sharing pictures through Twitter, showing that the crowds are mostly young.

NYU activist, journalist and professor Gabriella Coleman has been active all day, Tweeting, among other things, about the police presence, “Police are reduced to guarding the bull’s balls.”

There have not been any publicized reports of altercations with the police, and organizers have repeatedly called for civility and non-violence.

Most protesters just want their voices and grievances heard, hoping peaceful protest will be the answer to the country’s economic and social ills.

“I think greed is rampant in our society,” said one man to the livestream camera when asked why he was there today. “We need to create a society that’s based on empathy and courage.”

When the videographer asked another young man what he’d like to see, as far as an outcome for this occupation, he answered, “I would like to see a large turnout that will make a difference.”

[Editor Update, Sept. 18: Today the protests continued in smaller groups, as activists came together to teach sessions on Twitter recruitment, code of conduct and organizing, as well as meet on developing a manifesto of sorts and a plan of further action. According to @OccupyWallStNYC, the site's official handle, there was also a morning yoga session, and a WePay has been set up for donations (for more information on Operation PayPal, check this out.). This tumblr has amazing pictures and the live stream is still going.]

[Editor Update, Sept. 20: The encampment was still standing this morning, but the Twitterverse went nuts as seven protesters were arrested, and videos were posted to YouTube showing some unexpected NYPD brutality. There was also a significant amount of anger at the lack of mainstream media coverage, despite four days of protests. TV personality Roseanne Barr stopped by and gave a moving speech to the group in the park (video below), and the media team, after running out of batteries that cut off the live feed, alerted Twitter that Yahoo mail seemed to be blocking emails that mentioned "occupy wall street." ThinkProgress confirmed this.]

Below are posted Anonymous’s YouTube call for action and some photos posted to Twitter and retweeted. We won’t post usernames or handles for security reasons. Use #Sept17 #TakeWallStreet and #OccupyWallStreet for news from the ground.

This post is part of an on-going TNGG series on youth movements. Check out more about the Children of the Revolutions.

Alex Pearlman I love the John Adams miniseries, the Disney version of Peter Pan, and 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.' My heroes include Aaron Sorkin, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Steinem, Woody Allen and Allen Ginsberg. I don't like the two-party system, I do like crossword puzzles. I like red wine, I don't like fascists. I like big ideas, I don't like apathy. I like Wikileaks, I don't like censorship. I believe journalism needs a full-blown revolution to survive. Also, I'm the Editor in Chief of The Next Great Generation. Twitter: @lexikon1

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