Two days after Occupy Wall Street was evicted from its two month encampment in the financial district, the movement struck back. We met at sunrise across the street from the metal barricades now surrounding what was our home. Our plan had been in place for weeks but the eviction added an edge to the day. The memory of the police shutting down a section of the city, forcing media away and coming in with batons and metal cutting saws in the middle of the night was fresh. Hundreds were arrested; some still sat in jail.
We broke into large clusters and set off in different directions. We were going to attack from every angle. We were going to shut down the stock exchange.
Before the city woke and filled with men in business suits trying to make their way through the crowds to Wall St., the police had set up a large perimeter around the stock exchange. Metal barricades and riot police lined the streets. Police horses and reinforcements huddled together behind the front lines, waiting to be called.
At a dozen checkpoints police would verify the identity of stockbrokers and other workers and let them pass. As the workday neared and businessmen began to arrive groups of protesters peeled off at every checkpoint, rushed the barricades, stopped just in front, turned and locked arms. We made our own, human, barricade. The police moved in quickly to break our lines as soon as they formed. They pushed us, jabbed at our bodies with their batons and arrested anyone they could. While police and protester squared off, stockbrokers quickly slid inside the perimeter. It was certainly not business as usual for anyone on Wall St. that day, but the stock market opened on time.
That evening there was a massive General Assembly (GA) to discuss the day’s action and plan our future. On the edges, groups of police stood idly by, watching, listening. I approached one officer who was standing alone.
“My job is to listen to the GA, so I can report back to my superior’s what you guys are planning,” he told me.
“And were you working this morning?” I asked.
He laughed. “Every cop in the city was working this morning. I was riding into work at 5 a.m. and listening to the radio talk about how Occupy was going to try to shut down the stock exchange.” He looked toward the GA and smiled. “And you know what I thought? I thought, well shit, I hope they do it.”