A little over two weeks ago, on April 9th at around 11:30 PM, a small dedicated group of occupiers began occupying Wall Street.
Using a federal court decision from 2000 that allows sleeping on a sidewalk, while taking up only half of the sidewalk and not blocking doorways, a new occupy was established on the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets, across from the NY Stock Exchange and the Federal Hall building.
With sleeping bags and blankets, occupiers slept overnight in front of a TJ Maxx store and to the side of Federal Hall. During the day, the steps of Federal Hall, where the first continental congress met and where the Bill of Rights was written, were used as a outreach area.
On Monday, April 16th, in clear violation of the federal court decision, the NYPD began a crack down removing occupier's belongings from the sidewalk and arrested several who attempted to sit on the sidewalk. The area in front of the TJ Maxx store was declared a "sensitive area" and occupiers were pushed back to the steps of Federal Hall, where they took refuge. As these steps are considered federal land, NYPD has no jurisdiction. The Federal Parks Department has allowed sitting, but no sleeping overnight. Many occupiers slept at the piers on the East River.
Despite daily power cleaning of the steps of Federal Hall, the parks department has allowed OWS a "first amendment rights area" on one half of the stairs and has even gone so far as to issue an alert on their website concerning changes to Federal Hall access. The alert reads: "Notice of Temporary Change: Federal Hall National Memorial is announcing a temporary change to how the public will access the building. Taking this action affords visitors safe access to the site without interfering with those participating in 1st amendment activities at the site". NYPD has however, placed barricades on the sidewalk leading to the steps, along with barricades running down the steps.
This past Friday afternoon, prior to OWS's weekly Spring Training (in preparation for the May 1st General Strike) march on the Stock Exchange, more barricades were put in place around the exchange and on the sidewalks around Federal Hall by the NYPD. The weekly OWS march on Wall Street ran into these barricades and NYPD was aggressive in pushing protestors into the barricades. In a show of civil disobedience, four occupiers laid on the sidewalk in front of the former JP Morgan bank building and were arrested. After the march, federal parks police issued new rules for using the steps of Federal Hall. These guidelines include the size of personal belongings, allowed on the steps (no bigger than carry-on suitcases), and protestor signs, along with a warning that personal belongings left unattended will be removed. Additionally, only 25 protesters are permitted in the "First Amendment" zone (aka "Freedom Cage") at a time.
Late Friday night, occupier "Angry Pacifist"'s sign was removed from directy in front of him. When the occupier objected, he was arrested for a "noise disturbance" by federal police. This is the first federal arrest in NYC since Occupy began.
Okay, news report over. I am writing and telling you this for a reason; other than a scattered diary or two here or there, information about this occupation has been at about zero here on the DKos. Folks occupying could use your awareness and your support. What you can do:
Watch the live stream from Occupy Wall Street at: OccupiedAir
Read updates at OurAmericanSpring
Donate food by calling Liberato's Pizza at (212) 344-3464 or by contacting other restaurants in the area (the address of Federal Hall is 26 Wall Street). A list of restaurants can be found on Seamless
Showing up,live and in person, at the Federal Hall steps or out on the streets for the big May 1st actions planned by Occupy Wall Street. More information concerning the May 1st General Strike can be found at OccupyMay1st
Share this information with your family and friends. Occupy has spent a long winter planning for the American spring and Liberation summer. Come on out and be a part of it.
Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 6:16 AM PT: Thank you all for getting this diary on the rec list. To clarify, Federal Hall is operated by the National Parks Service. Police at Federal Hall are considered U.S. Parks Police.
I will try and write more frequently concerning what is going on downtown to keep folks updated. In the meantime, know this (and it is what I admire most about Occupy), they're not giving up...and you shouldn't either.