Wall Street Protesters Close Brooklyn Bridge

Some 700 protesters were arrested yesterday afternoon after they shut down the Brooklyn Bridge for 2-1/2 hours, apparently mistaking it for Wall Street.

Some 700 protesters were arrested yesterday afternoon after they shut down the Brooklyn Bridge for 2-1/2 hours, apparently mistaking it for Wall Street.

NYT (“Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge“):

In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to the enforcement action. “Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”

But many protesters said they believed the police had tricked them, allowing them onto the bridge, and even escorting them partway across, only to trap them in orange netting after hundreds had entered. “The cops watched and did nothing, indeed, seemed to guide us onto the roadway,” said Jesse A. Myerson, a media coordinator for Occupy Wall Street who marched but was not arrested.

[…]

The march on the bridge had come to a head shortly after 4 p.m., as the 1,500 or so marchers reached the foot of the Brooklyn-bound car lanes of the bridge, just east of City Hall. In their march north from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan — headquarters for the last two weeks of a protest movement against what demonstrators call inequities in the economic system — they had stayed on the sidewalks, forming a long column of humanity penned in by officers on scooters. Where the entrance to the bridge narrowed their path, some marchers, including organizers, stuck to the generally agreed-upon route and headed up onto the wooden walkway that runs between and about 15 feet above the bridge’s traffic lanes.

But about 20 others headed for the Brooklyn-bound roadway, said Christopher T. Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who accompanied the march. Some of them chanted “take the bridge.” They were met by a handful of high-level police supervisors, who blocked the way and announced repeatedly through bullhorns that the marchers were blocking the roadway and that if they continued to do so, they would be subject to arrest.

There were no physical barriers, though, and at one point, the marchers began walking up the roadway with the police commanders in front of them – seeming, from a distance, as if they were leading the way. The Chief of Department Joseph J. Esposito, and a horde of other white-shirted commanders, were among them. After allowing the protesters to walk about a third of the way to Brooklyn, the police then cut the marchers off and surrounded them with orange nets on both sides, trapping hundreds of people, said Mr. Dunn. As protesters at times chanted “white shirts, white shirts,” officers began making arrests, at one point plunging briefly into the crowd to grab a man.

Shockingly, closing the major artery from Manhattan to Brooklyn was not universally popular. The New York Post (“Wall St. protesters shut down Brooklyn Bridge“) captured one dissenter:

About 100 cars were left stranded as the loud, angry crowd covered the crossing from end to end in an inflamed day of demonstrations against high unemployment, bank bailouts and financial pain for the masses.

One irate driver, a Ground Zero construction worker, blasted the pedestrians. “I work my ass off all day, and these goddamned hippies close down the Brooklyn Bridge so I can’t get home?” he said. “This ain’t right!”

Indeed. It’s an odd way to protest the inequities of the American economic system.

On the other hand, it certainly sounds like police contributed to the delays. Either bar these yahoos from the bridge or let them pass; corralling them in the middle and then processing them for arrest makes no sense.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    These guys are apparently not from New York. If you want to hurt the Wall Street types, try marching to the Upper East Side or Westport, Connecticut.

  2. Ben Wolf says:

    It says something about how far to the right our country has drifted that people protesting state capitalism are now labelled Dirty F***king Hippies.

  3. Racehorse says:

    It is apparent these demonstrators are spoiled, rich kid brats who won’t get a job. They do not have the right to block traffic (impeding others’ right to travel) or create a disturbance and a big scene. Arrest and stiff punishment is the solution.

  4. john personna says:

    Hippies? Either they found a 70 year old construction worker, or the quote was made up by a 70 year old reporter.

    I suggest “hipsters.”

  5. jpe says:

    @ john: “hippies” is shorthand for “douchebag protester,” and oughtn’t be taken literally. @ DC Loser: my sentiments exactly. If the protesters wanted to shut down the lighting district in the LES, then mission accomplished, guys. Wall Street? Not so much. Not too many traders are going to be on the Brooklyn Bridge on a Saturday. Or any other time ever. That’s what irks me about this whole thing: it’s not impacting Wall Street in the slightest; it’s just making NYC worse. The taxpayers of NYC – and most Wall Streeters aren’t NYC taxpayers – are just going to get the hammer, paying for police overtime and the eventual lawsuit settlements for this or that (eg, rogue pepper spray attacks) and generally being inconvenienced.

    It reminds me of nothing so much as the MTA strike: the people that got hit the hardest by it were those least able to take it. Suburbanites could just drive in, and wealthier people just took cabs or worked from home. The people that really got screwed were the people that change sheets and wash dishes. And because they tend to live farther out, they had to walk ridiculous distances to get to work.

  6. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @john personna: That’s not quite fair. “Hippies” could include people as young as 61 or 62.

  7. Coogan says:

    I am surprised that the mayor has let this go on so long. The FBI needs to look into the backgrounds of each of these people. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they are communists, or at least extremist – subversives. And let’s find out who is behind this. The next thing you know, these people will be trying to blow up the bridge.

  8. jpe says:

    @ Coogan: that’s sort of insane. We don’t need the FBI investigating people for their political beliefs. The mayor should take a harder line on illegal conduct, w/ which the protests are rife. Blocking sidewalks and streets aren’t superserious crimes, but we have them for damn good reason. Big cities like NYC only work because of social order, both laws and norms, and the protesters are disrupting it. It would be no surprise to me if the majority are from suburbs, where these sorts of norms are much less important.

  9. Nikki says:

    Or perhaps the Justice Department should begin investigating the big banks and Wall Street financiers whose criminal conduct brought about the economic collapse. Then the protesters will get out of NYC’s hair and go home.

  10. Nikki says:

    Or better yet, Congress could raise the taxes on those who make $250,000 and above, so that there is shared sacrifice across the nation and creating a more realistic approach to bringing about an economic recovery. I’m sure the protesters will go home after that.

  11. Ethan says:

    @Coogan:

    only right wing protesters are subversive and dangerous, duh!

  12. Ethan says:

    @Nikki:

    They already pay 35% taxes, way higher than everyone else. the rich people get around taxes by getting their income from different sources. raising income tax rate will be completely useless. it’ll burden the upper middle class, which is in the 250k neighborhood and DOES pay all their taxes, since they have enough to be taxed, but not enough to make investments, and the millionaires keep on rolling.

    you could raise the capital gains tax, and that would take a bite out of millionaires… that is, until they stop investing, which historically is exactly what happens, and you’re retirement fund dwindles to zero.

  13. Big cities like NYC only work because of social order, both laws and norms, and the protesters are disrupting it.

    1. I’m sure the protesters knew they would be arrested for blocking the bridge. That’s the legal consequence of blocking the bridge, because blocking the bridge is against the law, unless you have arranged in advance for the police to allow you to do so (that’s called a “permit”).

    2. Approve or disapprove of the protest, whichever you wish, but it’s really, really amusing to me that no one here (very much including James) seems to get the point behind this protest. “But they’re blocking traffic! They’re disrupting the city!” rise the cries in the air.

    You guys make me laugh, you really do. But don’t feel bad, A lot of the response to this protest is totally clueless.

  14. john personna says:

    @Ethan:

    The data seems to say that effective tax rate climbs progressively, until we reach about $1 million in income, at which point it dips. There is a very thorough table here.

    It looks to me like it would just take a little tweak to correct that, and it needn’t affect any earner below $1 million.

    BTW, do you notice the 25th percentile for $1m earners? Fully a quarter of them are paying 12.6% or less tax rate.

  15. Coogan says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: It is apparent by the opinions expressed in most comments that their protest has caused a great deal of backlash because they have infringed on other people’s right to travel. If I did that, I would be arrested and do a lot of time.

  16. @Coogan:

    And apparently it got your attention, didn’t it.

  17. anjin-san says:

    it’s really, really amusing to me that no one here (very much including James) seems to get the point behind this protest. “But they’re blocking traffic!

    When I look at the things that outrage James, being personally inconvenienced seems to be pretty much at the top of the list. His “sky waiter” rant is a classic.

  18. jpe says:

    And apparently it got your attention, didn’t it.

    Like my 2 year old, you don’t seem to understand the difference between “good attention” and “bad attention.”

  19. jpe says:

    BTW, do you notice the 25th percentile for $1m earners? Fully a quarter of them are paying 12.6% or less tax rate.

    Note that that’s AGI, not taxable income. Note also that it’s a computer simulation of what they think is happening.

  20. @jpe: You don’t get to decide what is “good” attention and what is “bad” attention for millions of Americans who are angry and frustrated with growing income inequality, massive unemployment, no health insurance, and a Congress filled with men and women who are not two years old but acting as if they were.

  21. jpe says:

    Hi Kathy — That’s actually why we have democracy. These things get decided at the ballot box, not through bridge closures. “We don’t like the results, so let’s go shut down a bridge” is deeply antidemocratic, and veers on the fascist.

  22. john personna says:

    @jpe:

    But you don’t contest the central theme, that progressiveness turns at about $1M income.

    That is consistent with the table James showed us, a week or two ago.