Sunday, October 2, 2011
700 busted as Wall St. protesters clog Brooklyn Bridge
About 700 protesters were arrested after a horde of anti-Wall Street demonstrators swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday, halting traffic for more than three hours and clashing with cops on the famed span.
Up to 100 cars were left stranded as the loud, angry crowd covered the crossing from end to end in an inflamed day of demonstrations against high unemployment, bank bailouts and financial pain for the masses.
One irate driver, a Ground Zero construction worker, was livid.
I work my ass off all day, and these goddamned hippies close down the Brooklyn Bridge so I can’t get home?” he said. “This ain’t right!”
The rowdy protesters, who have repeatedly tussled with police in the two weeks they’ve spent downtown, made their way through the rain from Zuccotti Park to City Hall, where cops locked the park gates and diverted them elsewhere.
The crowd bottlenecked at the entrance and then occupied the bridge, tying up traffic as they slowly oozed across the span in a bid to get to Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Some protesters griped that cops appeared to trick them into being arrested by not explicitly telling them not to march onto the bridge.
It seemed that police allowed them to go into the area and then arrested them, so it came off pretty strange,” complained Jesse LaGreca.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said protesters were told “to stay on the pedestrian walkway and that if they took the roadway they would be arrested.
Some complied and took the walkway without being arrested. Others proceeded on the Brooklyn-bound vehicular roadway. The latter were arrested.”
People started sitting down and refusing to move,” said protester Ian Bradley, who climbed up to the pedestrian walkway to avoid being arrested.
People were being thrown to the ground by the cops,” he said.
Eventually, police -- including Chief of Department Joseph Esposito, the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer -- hauled away hundreds of protesters, who were allegedly a menace to drivers.
One officer told a protester the group was hurting the people they were supposedly rallying for by shutting down the bridge.
Who do you think you’re inconveniencing?” the cop asked.
The 99 percent! The 1 percent are watching this from their penthouses.”
It was the largest mass arrest since the 2004 Republican National Convention, when 1,200 protesters were taken into custody.
One of the arrested yesterday, Natasha Lennard, is a freelance reporter for The New York Times, the paper said.
She later Tweeted that she was released after spending hours on a police bus.
Most of the arrested were issued summonses and desk appearance tickets.
Cops were not able to immediately specify the charges, but said protesters were being processed at precincts in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Some bold-faced names have shown up at the Occupy Wall Street protests in recent days, including Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore and Russell Simmons, but at least one got a cold reception earlier yesterday.
Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel tried to lend his support but was chased away by a heckler.
Rangel was giving an informal speech to the crowd when a man started taunting him and then came toward him, witnesses said.
Charlie was saying how they need to have more people down here to support this. That’s why he was there,” said Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who was standing nearby as the incident unfolded.
This heckler came out of the crowd and went after him.”
As Rangel, who was unhurt, backed away from the pushy protester, the crowd came to his rescue, swamping the heckler and chanting in response: “Everyone has the right to speak.”
A Rangel spokeswoman denied that the congressman was chased away.
He knows people are frustrated and hurting badly from the financial meltdown,” spokeswoman Hannah Kim told The Post.
He is glad that he went.”
Once the demonstrations began, the crowd bellowed together as they marched: “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!” Organizers of the amorphous group issued an ominous “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” Thursday night.
No true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power,” the group declared.
We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.”