By Ethan Freedman
Video by Kelly Pivarnik
Six months after the start of Occupy Wall St., protests are still as scattershot and heated as when the movement began, and tensions are still as high, as the movement entered its 183rd day.
From the time protestors started Saturday, March 17, 2012, there was electricity in the air as the movement reemerged from its winter hibernation. As many as 500 people came out to Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to support the crusade, including controversial documentarian Michael Moore, a staunch advocate for the Occupy movement. At the end of the day, 73 people were detained, according to Salon. Many of those protestors were removed at 11:30 p.m., when police tried to close down the park.
Police started the arrests early with Lauren DiGioia, a scraggly girl with short, dyed blue hair. DiGioia started to dance on the walkway of Liberty Plaza, in defiance of police orders to clear the way for traffic. Four policemen were needed to take her down.
Melissa Freedman, an attorney, is flustered with how the police have handled the Occupy movement. “They do it to criminalize dissent,” she said, of the arrests.
She claims that there are constant First Amendment violations, and that the police would make arbitrary rules to facilitate them. “It was like we were a virus to them,” she said, referring to politicians like Bloomberg. “At its heart, it’s anarchism, and [Occupiers] don’t believe in top-down.”
She mentions that May 1 was planned as a date for a strike, in solidarity with the movement.
Others tried to express their dissent in more creative ways. David Everitt-Carlson, a former creative director at Leo Burnett, who lost his job and became homeless, would craft hand-painted signs while sitting in a cardboard box adorned with the slogan, “I think outside my box.” On his sign were slogans like, “Wall St. took our jobs, so we got an occupation.” He enjoys being involved with the movement and trying to spread the message.
“I’m trying to do something fun,” Everitt-Carlson said. “There’s no money in boxes.”
Choreographer Andrea Haenggi, who hails from Switzerland, gives out typewriters to protestors to record their thoughts anonymously. “It’s kind of like anthropology, but with a personable touch,” she said, referring to the project.
She says that she has had her doubts about the movement. “It’s the sixth month anniversary,” she said, “I [said] either become more involved or give up.” She chose the latter. Now she has a personal goal for the project. “That’s what I want to show: to get people to realize that you have to slow down,” she said.
The anarchy that prevailed during parts of the day, however, sometimes drowned their peaceful message out. Protestors, at random intervals, would incite police with derogatory, explicit chants.
Ydanis Rodriguez, a Democratic City Councilman, has become very involved with the movement. He was arrested Nov. 15 at Zuccotti Park. He says it’s not the first time he has been part of a movement similar to this, having protested in 1989 at City College against tuition hikes. He is also among those who are mad about the treatment of the movement he feels is justified. “They cannot violate our freedom of speech,” he said.
However, Rodriguez does feel optimistic about the prospects of the movement. “It’s a new beginning,” he said, breaking out into a smile.