The park was sparsely populated at lunchtime, a few hundred at most clustered around the west and east ends. "We are here today to say the 99 percent are back," one speaker said in a Mic Check. "The people who crashed our economy are down the street," another speaker said. "They recovered. Our communities did not. That's why we're still here."
On Broadway, closer to City Hall, an occupier passing an open-deck sightseeing bus—one of many whose riders would gawk at protesters—shouted up, "tell the people back home the era of financial capital is over!" A small contingent came marching down Broadway chanting, "Wells Fargo, what the fuck? We bailed you out and you still suck!"
Zuccotti was full of performers: two men in grinning Obama and Romney masks who stood, arms around each other, answering questions about the "differences" between their policies. One man carried a large Bane puppet labeled Bain Capital; it fought a large Statue of Liberty puppet and lost. A children's book-like series of paintings explained a proposed "Robin Hood tax" on financial transactions. (Earlier, organizers handed out Robin Hood caps, which became ubiquitous.) The "Tax Dodgers" baseball team strutted through the park. A woman with a donut tied by string to a wooden stick wandered the perimeter, sticking it out at cops, who mostly grinned. But they wouldn't let her in the park. "There are a lot of people here," the security guard said. "It could poke somebody in the eye by accident."
The park was closed off except for entrances in the middle of Cedar and Liberty streets. At one, a protester tried to enter with large styrofoam blocks that looked like concrete police barriers, painted with OWS, but security and police wouldn't let him. A white-shirt lifted one—"get this shit out of here"—and threw it out of the park, hitting me in the elbow. Earlier, when I'd arrived at the park, a police officer was eyeing suspiciously a balaclava'd man entering the park. "You check that retard's bag?" the cop asked security, who said the man was ok.[continues below]
Occupy Wall Street's Anniversary
The day wasn't all peaceful. Shortly after 1 p.m., three to six demonstrators were arrested in front of the Bank America branch on Broadway across from the park for blocking access to it. One of the arrested told the crowd through a Mic Check as police pushed him into a paddywagon that they had been given an order to disperse but then were not allowed to do so. Cops closed the sidewalk afterward, exasperating workers from nearby buildings who'd stepped out for lunch. "How long do we have to wait?" asked one man, carrying a plastic bag. "Just arrest them all." "Fuck you, you hippie piece of shit," said another guy carrying a lunch bag to a group of occupiers. As protesters idled with passersby on the corner closest to the incident, police attempted to clear them. "Off the sidewalk," a cop said, trying to push people onto other corners. "C'mon. Pick a side."
Shortly before 4 p.m., thousands of the people who'd gathered in the park by then filtered out to march, first around the perimeter of the park, then toward Wall Street. The march spilled into the street as it headed east on Cedar; police ordered marchers onto the sidewalks, which were blocked off by barricades. A helicopter appeared over head. "Ah, a helicopter," one protester joked. "Now I feel at home." Thames Street was filled with cops on motorcycles, waiting. "Show me what a police state looks like," protesters chanted.
The march turned before Wall Street east onto Pine, spilling onto the sidewalks on both sides of the street. At William Street, the march stopped; riot cops arrived as confusion swirled, but the march turned north and went east on Cedar, where marchers quickly began screaming "Shame!" and "Let them go!" as apparently some were arrested. The march turned around and the palpable anger at the police calmed as the march, several blocks long, continued north. It turned west onto Liberty, where it passed Chase; protesters chanted "Fuck Chase bank!" When it turned south on Nassau, many protesters rushed the streets and ran. Police chased them, tackling one and zip-tying him up. A block down, the guys in the Romney and Obama masks were arrested and demasked. Occupy medics pushed through the livid crowd.
Another guy, donning a conical and colorful birthday hat, was pulled off the sidewalk seemingly at random and arrested. A lieutenant began to issue an order to the crowd through a megaphone but he was drowned out by shouts and jeers. Tension mounted until one hollering protester convinced the crowd to turn around and march. The demonstrators made their way back to Broadway and tried to approach Wall Street again, which was of course blocked off. After a standoff, most marchers turned and returned to Zuccotti. "Let's rest," one suggested to his friends, "while the cops get tired."
In Zuccotti, many protesters sat in weary rows, while others drummed, danced and cheered, their revelry occasionally accompanied by bursts of confetti.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart