New York City was in no short supply of marches on October 1. Slut Walk, a march geared towards ending rape culture and victim blaming, marched in the Union Square area while hours later Occupy Wall Street shut down the Brooklyn Bridge. While the two groups have some overlap in members and organizers, the scene at Union Square was worlds different from the chaos at Brooklyn Bridge.
Of the hundreds of people that shut down two lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, after police let the marchers onto the bridge, 700 were arrested. In Manhattan the Slut Walkers faced no conflicts with the police.
Leading up to the Slut Walk march the group’s blog, slutwalknyc.com, was inundated with questions from concerned participants. After seeing many arrests and police brutally seemingly targeted towards women future-marchers were worried for their safety. A participant, username onthewing told the group, “My mom is super paranoid about police brutality and whatnot and I have assured her about the fact that we are permitted to be there.” Unlike Occupy Wall Street’s march Slut Walk had the appropriate permits for their march. To ensure the safety of the marchers, most of whom were young women (many of which were volunteering for high school volunteer hours) the group organized marshals education in the law to assist marchers if there were any conflicts with the police.
“…This will not be act of civil disobedience,” organizers assured marchers on the blog, “the police will have little grounds to start anything. However, we are absolutely taking what happened last weekend [the mace incident at the Occupy Wall Street March] into account (especially since they were targeting women specifically) and we have extra-prepared our marshals for everything and anything.”
The lack of clashes between marchers and the police at Slut Walk is even more poignant given the recent treatment of women by law enforcement. Just a year after a officer raped a woman, a week after an officer maced a group of women, and days after it was reported that policemen were stopping women on the street in Park Slope to tell them cover up to protect themselves from the serial rapist who has been targeting women in the area it is refreshing to see cops stand by peacefully as a group of women speak out to defend their rights.