Activists gathered in Manhattan’s financial district on Monday morning where they said they planned to stage a mass “sit-in” to protest Wall Street for “financing climate change.” The event is being promoted billed as “#FloodWallStreet” on social media.
According to a press release sent out by organisers on Monday morning, #FloodWallStreet will include “masses of activists in blue sitting-in and risking arrest, accompanied by a 15-foot inflatable ‘carbon bubble’, a marching band, oversized puppets, a 300-foot #FloodWallStreet banner, and other large-scale art pieces.”
The protest comes one day after Sunday’s “People’s Climate March” where over 300,000 people including many celebrities and politicians marched through New York to demand action to fight climate change ahead of United Nations’ Climate Summit.
Business Insider was on the ground at the protests and continuously updated this post with reports.
Update (8:07 p.m.): After a lengthy sit-in at the Wall Street bull statue, the protesters attempted to march toward the stock exchange where several arrests were made. Shortly before 7 p.m., police began telling protesters to leave the area, threatening them with arrest if they failed to comply. Officers eventually began arresting the activists and loading them into buses.
Our full liveblog of the day’s events is below. Scroll down to the bottom for the latest updates.
10:37 a.m. – According to the press release, the protesters are currently gathered in Battery Park for “non-violent direct action trainings” and speeches. Business Insider estimates there are at least 200 people in attendance.
A female speaker, who used the call-and-response “people’s mic” technique popularised during the Occupy Wall Street protests, emphasised a connection to those demonstrations, which began on Sept. 17, 2011.
“Three years ago, almost today … a few blocks from here, the Occupy movement was born to put corporate capitalism on trial. The entire world listened and the debate about inequality opened up that rages until this day.,” the woman said. “And now we are back. … We never went away. We were organising in our communities. And now we are back with the power of the water behind us to fight back like the Earth itself is fighting back.”
Park officials are using yellow tape to keep the crowds off the grass. Police are already set up outside the park. According to the press release, the demonstrators are scheduled to begin marching through the financial district at 11:30 a.m.
11:16 a.m. – Another speaker told the group they expected to face “relatively minor charges” after the sit-in. They suggested it was the “perfect” protest to participate in for those who have “never been arrested before.”
11:37 a.m. – After a speaker discussed an Occupy Wall Street “bail fund” that they said could be used for protesters who were arrested, the crowd began to form in groups and prepare to march from the park towards Wall Street. Business Insider observed the crowd has swelled and now includes several hundred people. The NYPD did not respond to an email asking about their plans for the protests or how many people they believe are participating.
Business Insider’s Colin Campbell, who is in the crowd, said that, as they prepared to march, members of the group raised concerns that there were “too many white men in the front carrying the banner.” Using the people’s mic, they managed to assemble a more diverse group to lead the march.
11:44 a.m. – The protesters began marching shortly before 11:40 a.m.
According to a flyer distributed in the crowd, the protesters are planning to stage their “action” at noon near the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street.
11:57 a.m. – The protesters are marching down Broadway and bouncing what the press release described as the “a 15-foot inflatable ‘carbon bubble'” in the air. According to Campbell, the bubble, which appears to be a large fabric ball, is “bouncing off cars” and Broadway is “stopped 100%.”
12:04 p.m. – #FloodWallStreet protesters have begun their sit-in. Some have started to sit down by the “Charging Bull” statue near Wall Street and others are continuing to march. According to Campbell, about 100 protesters are seated near the statue and many are singing.
12:19 p.m. – Police are standing by and watching the group of protesters who are sitting around the bull statue.
12:33 p.m. – According to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, the NYPD has moved “at least one large NYPD bus and several vans” to the corner of Beaver Street to potentially arrest protesters.
12:50 p.m. – Police have set up barricades around the area and are working to keep the sidewalks clear for pedestrians, but Business Insider has not yet seen any arrests.
1:06 p.m. – Business Insider’s Ben Winsor, who has also arrived to cover the protests, reports police have barricaded and cleared Wall Street. A group of officers on horseback are assembled behind the barricades out of view of the protesters.
1:13 p.m. – About 20 police officers with plastic handcuffs have positioned themselves near the protesters seated by the bull. Earlier, police deflated one of the “carbon bubbles” used by the protesters who booed and chanted “Pigs!”
1:42 p.m. – Protesters remain seated by the bull statue with police assembled to the north of the statue. The crowd was chanting about “staying here a while” and joking about ordering pizza. Broadway is still shut down from Morris to Beaver Streets.
Business Insider interviewed a man in a polar bear costume who said he came from the North Pole.
“My home is melting and we’re the early warning system,” the man said. “If the ice caps melt, how long before North America, South America, and Europe are underwater.”
The man later clarified he was actually from Shelter Cove, California.
A police officer told Business Insider they did not know how long the protest would continue.
“It’s up to them,” the officer said. “Ask any one of them.”
2:00 p.m. – Many of the protesters seated by the bull are currently dancing and entertaining themselves with renditions of MC Hammer’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” and the Reel 2 Real’s classic “I Like To Move It.”
2:19 p.m. – A group of people brought pizza to the protesters leading to a chance of “Pizza, reheated, will never be defeated!” According to Newsweek reporter Zoe Schlanger, the protesters ordered 400 pizzas.
Journalist Nick Pinto reports one of the activists announced via the “people’s mic” that the protesters intend to remain by the bull statue “through the closing bell and beyond.”
3:18 p.m. – A group of the protest organisers are gathered together and voting on their next move.
“Our options are; we can sit, we can stay here, or we can go up Wall Street,” a female protester said. “The stay option in, we stay, for ever, and ever, and everm and ever until the cops make us leave and arrest some people.”
Another man suggested the sit-in already accomplished its goals by showing strength.
“We have done it. We have fucking won,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if our numbers diminish now.”
It doesn’t matter if our numbers diminish now.”
Another woman in the group echoed this view.
“Now our work here is done,” she said. “We can march out of here. We will march out to Wall Street together.”
3:22 p.m. – The group has concluded their vote. They decided to speak to the larger crowd and continue playing music by the bull before marching up Wall Street towards the stock exchange in time for the closing bell at 4 p.m.
3:29 p.m. – A woman addressed the crowd and praised them for their participation in the protest.
“We’ve accomplished something huge. People don’t get in the street all the time, she said to cheers. “We’re being super disruptive in one of the economic centres of the entire world. We all know that what happens at the stock exchange is fueling climate chaos.”
3:47 p.m. – The protesters are now en route to the stock exchange. Police are walking in front of the crowd.
3:55 p.m. – The protesters have arrived at barricades on Wall Street where they are clashing with police. Officers are pushing the barricades in front of the protesters and arrests are being made. The NYPD has not responded to a request from Business Insider asking how many arrests have been made and why.
3:59 p.m. – Multiple arrests have been made. Business Insider’s Ben Winsor saw one man who was arrested while being covered by police on the ground. Some of the protesters are chanting “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Plastic handcuffs are being distributed among the police officers.
4:03 p.m. – At least eight of the police officers on scene at the protest are wearing riot helmets. Some of the protesters are chanting, “Riot gear, that’s not cool.”
4:08 p.m. – According to Fusion’s Tim Pool, police have fired pepper spray on some of the reporters.
5:32 p.m. – A blue smoke appeared in the middle of the protest and was apparently thrown by the protesters.
5:38 p.m. –
5:45 p.m. – The NYPD told Business Insider that only pepper spray has been used to control the crowd thus far.
“There have been erroneous reports that the NYPD employed tear gas and mace, when in fact we use neither. Pepper spray was used as a force continuum,” the NYPD said.
5:50 p.m. – The man throwing money in the 5:38 p.m. update said his name was Graham Boyle. He described himself as a “freelance artist” and said his cash throwing protest consisted of $US200 in singles.
“It was self-financed by a collective I work with called Patches and Flags,” he said.
Boyle’s group was planning to pay for their expenses travelling from Washington DC to participate in the climate protests. Last night, he said they began speaking about how “capitalism is the root cause of a lot of the climate crisis” and decided on doing a “creative, poetic, symbolic performance or action.” He said throwing the money was designed to show that “our community and our movement can subsist without money.”
“We can create alternatives and find sustainable models of production,” he said.
6:25 p.m. – Mohamed Elroby runs the hot dog stand across from Trinity Church, which is at the epicentre of the protests. He said the #FloodWallStreet demonstration has been “very bad” for business.
“They block the streets, my customers can’t come,” he said.
6:42 p.m. – A protester began speaking via the “people’s mic.”
“The officers on the other side have put their helmets on. We’re pretty sure this is just to intimidate us,” he said.
He then encouraged media to “take a look.”
6:45 p.m. – Cops have begun asking protesters to leave the area and have warned protesters they will be arrested if they do not leave.
“You are unlawfully obstructing vehicular traffic. I am ordering you to leave this roadway now,” one cop said. Protesters have countered by asking cops to go home.
Here’s a video, shot by Business Insider’s Hunter Walker, of police telling protesters to leave:
7:10 p.m. – Police officers were overheard worrying whether there are “enough witnesses” to avoid being accused of misconduct.
7:15 p.m. – The NYPD crackdown on the protest appears to have begun. At least three more individuals have been arrested so far. The crowd is chanting “thank you” as officers begin to round up the demontrators and load them into a nearby police vehicle.
7:23 p.m. – The arrests keep coming, including the man in the polar bear costume interviewed by Business Insider earlier in the day.
7:38 p.m. – “They came here with the plan to get arrested,” a police officer told reporters of the demonstration. The officers have methodically continued to arrest the protesters, including two dressed in costumes from “Captain Planet.”
7:48 p.m. – Overall, the civil disobediance arrests appear to be noticeably calmer and more peaceful than other protests in recent years, especially the original Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2011. One police officer present told Business Insider that Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), elected in 2013, won on a “certain mandate” and has a “certain outlook.”
8:01 p.m. – Police appear to have filled one bus with arrested demonstrators, who are now being moved to a second one.
8:05 p.m. – NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has arrived on the scene. One person shouted insults at Bratton as he approached. A police officer with him smiled and laughed.
Asked if he had any interest in speaking to the press, Bratton told Business Insider, “Not at the time.”
8:10 p.m. – Four activists in wheelchairs were among the last group of protesters arrested.
8:16 p.m. – All the protesters who were in street have been removed. The rest of the activists have been pushed back behind police barricades.
8:19 p.m. – An officer with the NYPD communications team said 102 protesters were arrested in the evening event at Wall St. and two more protesters were arrested earlier in the day — bringing the total arrested to 104. The four activists in wheelchairs were given
criminal court summonses in lieu of arrest, the officer said.
(Correction 5:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described a gas as “apparently” coming from the NYPD when its source was unclear. This story was originally posted at 10:36 a.m.)
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