About 75 people, including Marty Markowitz, briefly occupied Brooklyn on Saturday, gathered near the arch at Grand Army Plaza. Protesters were penned into a narrow space near the street, where they waved signs to frequent honks of support and encouraged those across the street at the more populated Farmer’s Market to join them.
Many people stopped in then left. The small space certainly didn’t encourage people to stay, though it wasn’t exactly crowded; use of the Human Microphone seemed unnecessary, as the group was small enough to hear the shouting speakers. Attendees were largely Park Slope types: attractive young people, older parents, some small children, a few active seniors and eccentrics. Their gripes were the usual: bailouts, militarism, income disparity. Organizers planned for the rally to peter out by the afternoon, when they would move to Washington Square before the evening’s big event in Times Square.
The mood was light. A trumpet player and an accordionist played Beirut-style gypsy blues; organizers marched in, jazz funeral style, with what they called Occupus—several blue garbage bags shaped like a cephalopod. “Stop occupying our space, Occupus!” one man shouted. “Everyone boo the occupus!”
“Burn it!” someone suggested. Organizers also had a stuffed animal—a fat cat.
When they rally started, demonstrators split into two groups: one by the arch, where they had originally planned to rally, and another by the street. But the former joined the latter because of their spot’s low visibility; police moved their barricades accordingly. “They’re accommodating as much as they can,” one officer said of the police when questioned by one of the many protesters critical about the small space granted them.
Copies of the Occupied Wall Street Journal were handed out, as were photocopied lists of chants, “in case you want to start one but don’t know any,” its distributor said. The sheet also included march guidelines and legal information.
Borough President Marty Markowitz arrived and shook a lot of hands; protesters seemed glad to see him. (Councilmember Steve Levin was also spotted in the crowd by Brooklyn Politics‘ Colin Campbell.) Markowitz said he was against the growing economic disparity in America, and thinks one solution would be the return of manufacturing. “There’s no jobs for people who can work with their hands,” he said. “We have to make things again.”
The event wrapped up around 1 p.m., though many lingered longer. “Thank you,” one organizer told the crowd before it dispersed. “You’ve shown that Occupy Brooklyn is ready to grow.”