Monday, September 17, 2012

On Vulnerability and Power

Screen Grab from Nate's stream, 9/17/2012, on Broadway, just north of Wall Street.


Was watching a bit of the morning's festivities at the Wall Street protests, and as the march reached the hallowed thoroughfare the sight of ranks and ranks of police, behind ranks and ranks of barricades -- I counted four rows of police and four rows of barricades -- blocking off access to the metaphorical financial center of global misery. Rows and rows and rows of police, the final row mounted on horses, blocking off an empty and dreary street in lower Manhattan.

Not only is access to the street blocked off, but the police, herding the crowd on the sidewalk, becomes obstreperous, demanding that the people keep moving all the while forcing the crowd into smaller and smaller areas, sectioning them off, forcing them along in pods with their batons and shouts and demands, just like herding cattle at the stockyard -- or slaughterhouse, for that matter.

The sidewalk is almost magically cleared for almost half a block and marches -- indeed pedestrian traffic of all kinds -- is halted in all directions.

Police have been grabbing people from the crowd at random, pulling them out of the crowd and arresting them much as was happening the other day but not quite so brutally.

The chant goes up: "Ah! Anti! Anti-capitalista!"

Another chant: "We are unstoppable, another world is possible!"

Marches merge and converge all over the financial district. As police control one area, protesters take another route and overwhelm the police and take to the streets.

"Whose street? Our streets!"

It sounds like there are tens of thousands marching through the canyons of Lower Manhattan, but it is impossible to tell from the narrow view of the livestreamers embedded in the swirling, shouting mass. Nate says there are marches "everywhere" in Lower Manhattan, and he's only showing part of what is going on this first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street.

The crowd takes Water and Wall Street (it sounds like) and starts chanting, "Ah! Anti! Anti-capitalista!" The Rude Mechanical Orchestra play airs.

First Anniversary. I never thought Occupy would get this far or last this long. Given all the news reports of its demise ("Good idea, but it didn't have staying power, yadda yadda.") Occupy seems to be able to turn out crowds when need be, where necessary.

The power of the People seemed to dissipate, the vulnerability of the financial elites and the police who protect them and their treasure sites seemed to fade.

And yet, for a shining morning in September, the ranks of police and the system they're protecting seem more vulnerable than ever, the Power of the People more secure. For a moment. For now.

"Get up, get down, there's Revolution in this town!'

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