POLITICS

Flood Wall Street Protesters Cast Blame For Climate Change As Police Arrest 104

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Police officers wait to move in to arrest demonstrators on Broadway following the Flood Wall Str
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Police officers wait to move in to arrest demonstrators on Broadway following the Flood Wall Street protest after asking them to disperse on September 22, 2014 in New York City. The Flood Wall Street protest came on the heels of the climate change march on September 21 that attracted over 300,000 protestors. (Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Thousands of protesters shut down blocks of Broadway in Lower Manhattan for hours on Monday in a demonstration that cast the blame for climate change squarely on Wall Street.

A brief, dramatic attempt by marchers to take Wall Street itself was met with police pepper spray. Despite the NYPD's tally of 104 arrests -- including one of a man in a polar bear costume -- the overall mood was markedly more contained than the Occupy Wall Street protests that began three years ago this week.

All but two of the arrestees chose to be taken in, defying six police orders to disperse.

"The world seems like it's ending, and it's the only thing I can think of to do," 56-year-old Seth Tobocman told HuffPost just before he was arrested.

Monday's Flood Wall Street demonstration had a more frankly anti-capitalist message than the massive march that took over midtown Manhattan the day before. Many of those present were veterans of Occupy, including organizers like Lisa Fithian, dubbed "Professor Occupy" for her role in teaching tactics to that movement.

"I feel like the source of all our problems in the world is coming from the very top of the financial ladder," said Jordan, a 23-year-old college student who skipped class to attend the protest. He declined to give his last name.

The day began with speakers from places as diverse as Mexico and Mali using an Occupy-style human mic in Battery Park to speak about capitalism's ill effects on their homes. Most protesters, however, were from places closer to New York.

One was Sonia Little, a Mashpee Wampanoag Native American who lives in Massachusetts. Little also attended the People's Climate March, which organizers claimed drew more than 300,000 supporters. She said Monday's protest got "a little crazy" compared to that event, but she was buoyed by the energy of both demonstrations.

"Indigenous people have been getting the raw end of greed for 500 years," said Little, a house painter and student.

For hours during the day, protesters sat surrounding the famous Charging Bull sculpture near Wall Street, even bouncing giant "carbon bubbles" off its bronze horns. Many who sat around it expected immediate arrests.

flood wall street bubble
Demonstrators push a giant "carbon bubble" past a tourist bus during the Flood Wall Street protest. (Matt Sledge/HuffPost)

But in the first big test of protest policing under Mayor Bill De Blasio, the police instead gave protesters hours to discuss politics and sing along to a radical marching band's rendition of the Twisted Sister classic, "We're Not Gonna Take It."

"I think part of it has to be the difference between De Blasio and Bloomberg, because I think Bloomberg is part of Wall Street, he's a plutocrat," explained Max Berger, who was an organizer with the Occupy movement, referring to former mayor Michael Bloomberg. By contrast, De Blasio, he pointed out, had criticized Bloomberg for violating Occupiers' First Amendment rights.

charging bull
A police officer stands guard in front of the "Charging Bull" statue near Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. (Matt Sledge/HuffPost)

While a white-shirted police superior at one point told subordinates to be "nice and easy" with arrestees, the day was not without conflict.

As protesters attempted to move onto Wall Street for the New York Stock Exchange's closing bell, they were met by a phalanx of officers holding up barricades. A few charged the barriers and were pushed back. After minutes of back-and-forth struggle, one officer let loose a stream of pepper spray into several protesters' eyes.

flood wall street medic
A street medic examines Flood Wall Street protester Evan Donovan, minutes after an NYPD officer pepper-sprayed him across a barricade protecting Wall Street. (Matt Sledge/HuffPost)

Evan Donovan was one. As video confirms, he had seconds before been chatting with an officer. Donovan said he'd been trying to explain that he had a free speech right to protest on Wall Street itself.

"Apparently they disagreed with me," he told HuffPost, his faced drenched with water to wash away the spray.

Just before 7 p.m., the police ordered protesters who remained at the same intersection of Broadway and Wall Street to disperse. For the next hour and a half, those who chose to stay were led away in plastic FlexiCuffs one by one.

flood charging bull
Protesters sit on Broadway expecting arrest. The NYPD chose to essentially wait many of the Flood Wall Street demonstrators out, making the vast majority of arrests seven hours after Monday's action began. (Matt Sledge/HuffPost)

A protester's boombox blasted "Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Lil Jon. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton himself oversaw the last handful of arrests.

The protesters on both sides of the barricades continued cheering.

"No wars, no warming!" shouted one woman, as she was taken away to a waiting police bus.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

  • 1
    A New York City police lieutenant swings his baton as he and other police try to stop protesters who breached a barricade to
    A New York City police lieutenant swings his baton as he and other police try to stop protesters who breached a barricade to enter Wall Street after an Occupy Wall Street march Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
  • 2
    In this October 1, 2011 photo, police arrest a protester on New York's Brooklyn Bridge during Saturday's march by Occupy Wall
    In this October 1, 2011 photo, police arrest a protester on New York's Brooklyn Bridge during Saturday's march by Occupy Wall Street. Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and other grievances attempted to walk over the bridge from Manhattan, resulting in the arrest of more than 700 during a tense confrontation with police. The majority of those arrested were given citations for disorderly conduct and were released, police said. (AP Photo/Stephanie Keith)
  • 3
    Police scuffle with members of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement as they march through the streets of the financial district
    Police scuffle with members of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement as they march through the streets of the financial district after the deadline for their removal from a park in the financial district was postponed on October 14, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  • 4
    Members of Occupy Wall clash with police during a celebration march after learning that they can stay on Zuccotti Park in New
    Members of Occupy Wall clash with police during a celebration march after learning that they can stay on Zuccotti Park in New York, October 14, 2011. Occupy Wall Street protesters and the New York Police Department avoided a potential clash as the real estate company that owns Zuccotti Park, where the protests began, decided to put off its planned cleaning of the square. Amid what was described as a celebratory march by a small group of protesters, scattered clashes with the police broke out, who bulked up their presence at the Zuccotti Park location, which has been home for hundreds of the protesters. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 5
    Police carry away a participant in a march organized by Occupy Wall Street in New York on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011.  Marchers
    Police carry away a participant in a march organized by Occupy Wall Street in New York on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011. Marchers represented various political and economic causes. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
  • 6
    Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street protests confront New York City police officers as they march on the str
    Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street protests confront New York City police officers as they march on the street in the Wall Street area, Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • 7
    Members of Occupy Wall Street are arrested as they clash with police during a celebration march after learning that they can
    Members of Occupy Wall Street are arrested as they clash with police during a celebration march after learning that they can stay on Zuccotti Park in New York, October 14, 2011. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
  • 8
    Police scuffle with members of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement as they march through the streets of the financial district
    Police scuffle with members of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement as they march through the streets of the financial district after the deadline for their removal from a park in the financial district was postponed on October 14, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
  • 9
    A demonstrator affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement yells at a New York City police officer outside Zuccotti Park,
    A demonstrator affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement yells at a New York City police officer outside Zuccotti Park, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011 in New York. Hundreds of police officers in riot gear before dawn Tuesday raided the New York City park where the Occupy Wall Street protests began, evicting and arresting hundreds of protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed and economic inequality. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
  • 10
    Occupy Wall Street protestor Alexi Morris is arrested along with at several others in the financial district's Zucotti park,
    Occupy Wall Street protestor Alexi Morris is arrested along with at several others in the financial district's Zucotti park, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in New York. The arrests of 700 people on Brooklyn Bridge over the weekend fueled the anger of the protesters camping in a Manhattan park and sparked support elsewhere in the country as the campaign entered its third week. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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