Here's What It Was Like To Be In The Middle Of This Morning's Dramatic Protest On Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

An energetic protest can be like whiplash. The crowd marches and stops, get corralled by police and breaks free. You feel boredom and then a shot of adrenaline. You run and you stop.That’s what it was like to cover the Occupy Wall Street march this morning near the New York Stock Exchange.

After Mayor Bloomberg shut down the Zuccotti Park camp in the darkest hours of early Tuesday morning, a lot of people left the movement for dead. But not its followers. Today, supporters showed up by the thousands.

The march started off in the square in front of Brown Brothers Harriman, where marchers were briefed with instructions. Follow the black flags, they were told. Stay together.

But once the march started, it was clear that following orders would prove difficult. Upon turning onto the street, the protesters were confronted head-on with hundreds of police officers and their barricades. High ranking officers too, decked out in riot gear.

Protesters were undeterred. The demonstrators have become marchers, and in this case, most marched like soldiers. We say most, because the Occupation still has an element that attracts people who want to be on the fringe for their own amusement. People who aren’t dedicated to the cause, but are attracted to anywhere where there is chaos.

And the beginning of the march was chaotic indeed. Everyone was trying to keep pace with some difficulty, but once a rhythm was established, people kept up and got in sync.

Then the protesters heard orders to split, and they did. To effectively block off Wall Street, they split into four groups. They covered Beaver, Hanover, Exchange, and William. There were no walkie-talkies, and no megaphones. Communication was a guy on a bike moving from group to group bringing news of arrests and violence. On the live feed, the protesters somehow hooked up an aerial view of the march that 20,000 internet viewers could enjoy.

You’ll hear reports about how police brutalized protesters and, in some cases, maybe that’s true. But some protesters were out of line and overall the police conducted themselves professionally and courteously.

At last check, we heard 112 people were arrested.

At 6:45am this cop was waiting and watching near the entrance to the NYSE before protesters arrived.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered across the street from Zuccotti in the shadow of Brown Brothers Harriman at about 7 a.m.

This sign had recently hung on the wall outside Zuccotti Park and was being held up in defiance before the march

Early morning analysts looked down on the crowd, relaying information on the phone

Moments before leaving, protesters were given instructions on how to film interactions with the police

Flags were everywhere.

Without any notice the crowd began moving and followed the flags and banner. People carrying black flags would guide the route.

The first major bottleneck was at Nassau and Pine within sight of the NYSE. Police seemed surprised by the number of people and tried to block part of the street with a van.

Crowds got pressed up against the vehicle and struggled to go around. It was a mess.

But they got through and worked their way toward Wall Street

At Wall and Hanover a solid wall of police stood shoulder to shoulder blocking the way. While this man laid some choice words on the police in front of him, protesters behind me were screaming insults at the police. Uncomfortable being associated with the crowd there, I moved to some scaffolding for a better look.

From my vantage point it was obvious there was only one way around, down Hanover, and no one seemed to see it. Finally an organiser claimed up next to me and signaled to someone on the opposite side.

Slipping down Hanover, the group left a contingent behind to Occupy the intersection at Hanover and Wall St

Cruisers had their lights going on Exchange Street as marchers set upon William

Some marchers voiced legitimate concerns

At Williams and Exchange police were waiting and protesters set up in front of them

And the occupation of the intersection became official

Police were checking all IDs.

Police made sure local workers could get through, but it was definitely a rough commute. Insults were flung back and forth, along with a couple of elbows from frustrated employees.

Some protesters chose this woman to scream at and explain how non-violent movements allowed her to be a police officer

And then, the group sat down and locked arms

Around the corner, police were called away and protesters seized the chance to alter the NYPD perimeter

And suddenly it was a party. This girl with a harmonica and drum bucket was surprisingly musical and got the crowd riled up.

Just like that, someone got out of hand and police swarmed an area pushing us all back and taking an Occupier down

It's hours into the march now and looking for a Starbucks, I notice the drummer-girl coming. People start to clap and liven up. The started dancing in the streets, screaming.

Francis Doldin, 87 years old, joined hand with protestors creating a human link fence in front of police barricades.

And again, someone got out of control and the police went on alert, rushing to a spot on the street and moving us all back to the curb.

This guy was brought down and cuffed.

Moments later another police swarm moved in and went after someone else

A brief tribute to officer Brice-German. Standing on the curb in front of me, I watched her firmly herd us out of the street, keep a throbbing mab back, and help drag people from the ground that had fallen. She seemed capable and empathetic. There were many like her, and you don't hear about officers like that often enough.

Tensions remained high and police took down another protester and cuffed him.

This guy caused quite a ruckus and did something to make his arresting officer smile

And then he said something that made him stop smiling

And the girl with the drum and the harmonica kept up with her tune

With other protesters singing along.

But cops stood ready for more arrests.

While workers tried to get on with their day

And parents tried to get their kids to school

Check out more photos from this morning's live blog

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