Peaceful demonstrations in lower Manhattan turned violent over the weekend, most notably when NYPD officers attacked a small group of female protesters with pepper-spray, temporarily blinding two.
The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, however, said the police used the pepper spray “appropriately.” (source: NY Times).
Videos of the incident and videos like it are fueling public interest and providing for it the publicity it needed to become nationally recognized.
“I hadn’t even heard about it until this weekend when The [New York] Times covered it,” said Carmen Melo, daily Manhattan commuter. “The videos that I’ve seen are utterly shocking.”
Unlike most organized protests, the occupation of Wall Street is unique in that it is without specific demands.
“Our goal is to expose the inequalities of the American financial system by exposing ourselves,” said Mitchell Mora, disgruntled Lang student.
There is shared sentiment among organizers that Wall Street folk are not taking the peaceful protests seriously enough. On Friday, Mora recalls workers toasting the crowd from their fourth floor offices. This gesture was followed with outrage from the crowd, which screamed, “Jump! Jump! Jump!” to the mocking silhouettes above.
Mora believes that the demonstrations are just beginning and that more of the “99%” need to get involved, specifically the New York student population. Mora became aware of the occupation at The New School when he saw a student-made flier advertising the event (the flyer was unaffiliated with The New School and its organizations).
“I think it’s relevant for New School students to participate,” said Mora. “Anyone who cars for social justice should be taking this personally and very seriously. All we’ve experienced so far is mocking disrespect.”
While New Yorkers are beginning to pay more attention to what is happening downtown, the nation is also beginning to take note as similar protests are taking place in other major US financial centers.
“We know people are starting to organize in Seattle and all the West Coast,” said Mora. “We are secure in our purpose and confident that others will understand our disposition.”