“Who do you serve, who do you protect?” – A dispatch from the scene of the Wall Street blockades on 11/17 in New York City

This morning the streets to the New York Stock Exchange were blocked off in every direction with traffic snarled for hours. The protestors tried to enter Wall Street from every direction and were sometimes successfully repelled by the police and sometimes not. Police used batons on protestors numerous times at every way in (I was at all four) and once used a high frequency tone to drive people away—a tone still ringing in my head. As the police pushed people with batons before battering them with the weapons, the crowd chanted “Who do you serve, who do you protect?” The effect of these actions left the streets effectively blocked by the police themselves.

          Police pushed people off sidewalks, people who just stood there innocently. When they didn’t move fast enough (the media’s cameras were most everywhere in between the police and protestors, near the front line in order to capture the beatings), the police clubbed people with batons and arrested them. A cat and mouse game of street blocking continued at Beaver Street between William and Broad Streets, ironically a half a block from where I work. At the intersection of Beaver and William, one large policeman in both height and weight dragged a short, bespectacled woman on her back, a young woman in a weight class below bantam. He then turned her over like someone fumbling with a corpse and pressed a knee into her back while waiting for other cops to contain the crowd decrying the incident around them and preventing them from helping the poor woman. The young woman was far from the main line of cops and it is unclear what she did to receive such heinous treatment.

Around ten-thirty, an hour after the bell rang in the Stock Exchange, it was decided to head back to Zuccotti Park to converge with the thousands scattered around some of the oldest, most hallowed streets in the United States, containing some of the most expensive real estate as well.

Moments later, a middle-aged man from New Haven with two cuts oozing blood from near his eyes asked me to help him get back to Zuccotti Park. A civilian in a suit had jumped a police barricade and ran up to this middle-aged man who stood behind another barricade and punched him in the face, breaking his glasses. He was legally blind without the glasses and needed me to help him through the streets as he could only make out blurs from a foot on out. The police didn’t do anything to his assailant and wouldn’t help him find the broken glasses on the ground. An hour later, at Zuccotti Park, he told me the camp at New Haven had just been raided, everything he owned had been discarded.

After all the commotion between eight and ten-thirty the park was a joyful scene and after a while people pulled away the new barricades (on the southern side) which have been penning an open-air park since Tuesday morning. Chants of “Our Park!” went up. About an hour later, according to reports, police shoved people back and have since put back up the barricades.

As of this writing, after Mayor Bloomberg and the city willfully broke the law on Tuesday, they have not yet had a lawsuit brought against them for ignoring a court order to stop the eviction of people from a privately owned public park, but it is in the works.

At 5pm, protestors gathered at Foley Square, a nexus of federal and local courthouses not far from Wall Street, and marched over the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Other 99 on ustream has reported live and continuous for many of the demonstrations.

6 thoughts on ““Who do you serve, who do you protect?” – A dispatch from the scene of the Wall Street blockades on 11/17 in New York City

  1. Thanks so much for posting this, Greg. It is really shameful (and undemocratic!) how much excessive force is being employed by these so-called public servants. I can’t even think of anything constructive to say because I’m so disgusted. And Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t deserve his title. (A lot of “public servants” don’t, to be fair.)

  2. Pingback: Who do you serve, who do you protect? « BIG OTHER

  3. Thanks for reporting.
    In a capitalist society, the function of the police is to “protect and serve” the interests of the ruling class. That said, incidents like those you’ve reported should come as no surprise.
    I’ve attended many OWS-related actions in NYC and elsewhere and my hope is that folks will stop talking about nonsense like “returning to democratic principals” or trying to pressure the Democrats, etc., but instead begin to educate themselves about Marxist ideas and strategies… and come to see that the only way we’re going to change things is to mobilize the vast international working class (i.e., those who make and do everything). At the same time, i hope that the more conscious among this movement will not be fooled by groups that are really Stalinists or Mao-ists in Marxist disguises. Stick with our boy Trotsky, the Spartacists, and others who are striving to overthrow the tyranny of corporate capitalism. Remember too that capitalism can’t be reformed, as it never was, and can never be, anything but a brutal and unequal system.

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