Unrealized Dreams: Occupy Wall Street Three Years Later

To revolutionaries, and I’d imagine many others too, anniversaries are when we remember past events and struggles, discuss their significance and what lessons they may hold for us in the current moment. Although I hold to the reflections I gave on the previous two anniversaries of the Occupy Movement (see here and here), that still leaves the question: what do we say now? Was this Occupy Movement the herald of a new form of radical politics? A liberal version of the Tea Party? A fun carnival? A necessary learning process that thousands of newly politicized activists had to undergo before moving onto more serious politics? Or just a flash in the pan? Can we even pass judgment on the many unrealized dreams of Occupy?

Compared to old sterile sectarian left politics and the NGOs who march to the Democrat Party line, Occupy was something new and fresh. Here were thousands of people, the vast majority who had never been touched by politics before, suddenly in the streets and shouting “we are the 99%!” and demanding fundamental change in the way society is organized. Now it is true that the structures of Occupy, such as the General Assemblies were a hindrance to developing the appropriate vertical structures with accountable leadership that can develop the programs and strategies necessary to win. Yet this deficiency did not stop people from coming to the encampments in order to discuss politics, capitalism, what a better society would look like, and a thousand other questions. 

And to those of us newly active, even if we were radicals beforehand, it was like being struck by a bolt of lightning. It is one thing to read about revolutions and mass movements in books and essays. All of that is safe and seemingly far away from the mundane concerns of making a living in our decrepit capitalist society. Yet following the 2007-8 crisis, as we lived in the mire of dead end jobs and while the ruling class flagrantly bailed out banks who evicted people from their homes, anger accumulated and boiled. But there was no outlet. It seemed that nothing would give and this state of affairs would last forever. Then Occupy shattered the ice. People were clenching their fists. They were questioning the reigning order of society, it didn’t matter that it was in limited or distorted ways, just that they were questioning it. And to suddenly be in the midst of it was to feel that you were not alone. It was to be touched by a profound truth – we can actually win.

The talking heads of the bourgeois press called us confused and unreasonable because we refused to come up with demands. Yet what did Occupy want? There were those in the movement who wanted demands ranging from End the Fed, repeal Citizens United to communist revolution. So many divergent dreams were contained in all those discussions. And while it is true that having so many people, new to politics with so many contradictory ideas, doomed Occupy from articulating an agreed upon program and goal. Ultimately, a movement needs to come up with a goal, a program, and an organization to carry it forward in order to bring about victory. All of these things that Occupy lacked.

Yet there was a reason Occupy refused to come up with demands – and those who were part of the movement would do well to not forget it. Occupy was a tear in the social fabric and the people had to confront the powers that be. And in that confrontation, to use the language of the movement, between the 99% and the 1% communication was not at all possible. When the rulers and their lapdogs asked Occupy “what do you want?” there was no answer that Occupy could give. Since Occupy wanted something the system would not and could not give – they wanted to remake the world.

However, this was a movement which could not sustain itself or the dreams which animated so many militants of a new world. Occupy’s own structures meant that a cohesive organization could never be created and that the movement ultimately foreswore victory. The energy that came into the movement and the many marches was never channeled or given focus by Occupy’s leading bodies such as the General Assemblies. As the weeks and then months went by, the mass meetings became less and less. People grew tired of standing for hours on end in the cold rain to discuss procedure and the mass of moronic proposals at the GA such as the official color of Occupy. Exhaustion set in and perhaps the movement would collapse in on itself. Occupy never quite reached its natural end, the state sent in its police and SWAT teams to clear out the camps. Excuses such as “health and safe hazard” was raised as a pretext to clear out the camps. Without central spaces that gave it focus, Occupy dissipated.

What about all of us who went through the movement then? What were we to do? It was impossible to just go back to our regular lives as if nothing had changed. That was impossible. It was more than just taking part in a festival. Bertolt Brecht once said that what happens when pledging allegiance to the revolutionary cause is that new people are made, “From this instant forward, you are no longer yourselves. But all of you, without names or mothers, you are blank pages upon which the Revolution will write its directives.” And it was true. Some of us lost our names and adopted new ones. Occupy may have ended, but the injustices which gave it birth continued to rule. It was true that there was much soul-searching to be done. Along with the great exhilaration of Occupy, its flaws needed to be mercilessly criticized in order to carry the struggle forward.

There was still a sense of loss about the way it turned out. When you throw your energies into something – heart and soul, you want it to mean something. You want to see all of your work rewarded with victory. And I personally remember how I demoralized I felt several months after Boston’s Occupy camp was disbanded – and watched as many Occupiers gave up and went into the bankrupt politics of the Democratic Party. Many of the left sects, who had never really become involved in the movement and just watched from the sidelines, could point with a smug attitude “Ha! We told you that it would end this way!” They conveniently forgot nothing and learned nothing. Still, there were others who seemed more inclined to practice heresy hunting by building upon weaknesses to undermine strengths. So was that the end result of the movement? Was the evil of Occupy all that lived after it and was the good interred in its bones?

In answering that question, I pondered the remark of a comrade spoken in the dark aftermath: “Occupy ended up being a hysterical liberal reaction to the crisis, but it didn’t have to be that way.” I thought over his words for a long time before being able to make sense of Occupy and what the participation of those with unrealized dreams ultimately meant. There were many dreams contained within Occupy. There were those who wanted the movement to be reasonable and shift its vigor back into the Democratic Party, NGOs or the sectarian left. All of this was a betrayal of the movement and to put the brakes on those of us who wanted to see how far it could go. So where did that leave the rest of us with those unrealized dreams?

We wanted to go the distance. We did not want to play it safe. We wanted to make Occupy our chance to bring the old order down. And it is true that we did not succeed. Our dreams were too soon. We were too new to the struggle. We still had much to learn and to experience. And we were not the first to dream too soon. During the French Revolution, at the dawn of capitalism, there were a small group of communists around Gracchus Babeuf who fought a premature battle to achieve the “common happiness.” There was John Brown who raised a small band to take up arms against slavery. There was the Paris Commune of 1871 which was drowned in the blood of 30,000 in order to restore “law and order.” And there others too: hundreds of revolts by workers, serfs, peasants, and slaves throughout history. Nearly all of them went down to the defeat. What do we say about the unrealized dreams of all those struggles?

The lesson of all the revolts and struggles throughout history, including our own, is not that we are destined to lose. Rather, it is that the rule of exploiters is not eternal, it can be challenged. There is always an opportunity to fight, despite everything. We nourish ourselves upon the righteous rebellion, from the distant past down through our moment. Yet our goal is not merely to fight the good fight and then congratulate ourselves afterward, even though as the rule of capital remains, but to bring to fruition all those unrealized dreams. So how do we prepare ourselves to organize for victory?

Occupy, like many struggles before it, was seemingly “premature.” The people who came into it were new to politics, no organization was able to channel its energies and there was no agreed upon goal. Yet Occupy’s “premature” action, like so countless actions beforehand, was necessary in order to learn from the long and stubborn struggles in order to forge a new layer of revolutionary activists who will gain maturity, who will remain faithful to the original dream as they continue onward while learning from past errors. We should not forget that while Babeuf, the Paris Commune, and John Brown went down to defeat, others came to pick up their banners where they left them. Those who came afterward remained faithful to the unrealized dreams contained within those struggles, learned the reasons for failure and carried the flags forward – even to victory. So while the revolutionary dreams of Occupy may be too soon and were destined to be defeated, sometimes defeat is necessary in order to learn and advance to triumph. As Rosa Luxemburg said, “But revolution is the only form of “war” – and this is another peculiar law of history – in which the ultimate victory can be prepared only by a series of “defeats.”

Hey Occupy Wall Street, abolish my debt too!

charlene ingram
Charlene Ingram, a single mother of four, has $125,000 in student loan debt.

Occupy Wall Street has been on a debt-abolishing tear lately — recently buying nearly $4 million in student loans from debt collectors and then forgiving it.

Now thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans, too.

Charlene Ingram is one of them.

A single mother of four from St. Louis, Ingram is 41 and has $125,000 in student loan debt.

After struggling for years to find a job that paid more than minimum wage, she enrolled in an undergraduate program at age 37 — figuring a bachelor’s degree would be her only shot at earning enough to support her family. While she was in school, she and her sons delivered phone books in order to put food on the table.

Upon graduating in 2011, she found a job as a full-time medical assistant. But the job only pays $14 an hour. It’s hardly enough to keep up with the basics — $800 per month in rent, food for her and the kids, utilities, car payments, and medical insurance (which isn’t provided through her job) — let alone the nearly $1,700 a month she owes on her student loans. She said she applied for food stamps but earns $2 an hour too much.

Related: Occupy abolishes $4 million in other peoples’ student loan debt

Every time she applies for a higher-paying job, Ingram says she gets turned down because she doesn’t have a Master’s degree. So she enrolled in a Master’s program in health care management in 2012, juggling classes at night and on the weekends. But now she has so much outstanding debt that she hasn’t been able to qualify for additional loans and complete the program.

“How do they expect us to survive when you spend all that money for school and still can’t get the job that you went to school for and took thousands of dollars in loans?” she said.

Ingram was one of many readers who wrote to CNNMoney seeking Occupy’s help with paying back their loans. “Trying to [pay for a] home, food and clothing for us is very hard as a single parent,” she wrote. “Please help.”

Another reader, Martha Sopher, hasn’t been able to work since becoming severely disabled from a car accident three years ago. When she turned 62 last year she immediately applied for Social Security. But because she had defaulted on the more than $200,000 in student loan debt from a graduate program she attended 10 years ago, 15% of her Social Security payments are being garnished each month.

Related: For-profit Corinthian College urged to forgive $500 million in loans

She is still in the process of applying for disability, and her family is helping her pay her living expenses in the meantime.

“I have to skip meals to get by. I skip medications. I don’t live, I exist,” she wrote. “I made all these wonderful deliberate decisions, worked two jobs more than full-time while I went to college full-time and carried an ‘A’ average — but now the dream I worked so hard for is gone forever. I can’t take care of my needs and as I age, it will only get worse.”

Sen. Warren cites CNNMoney story in hearing 

Upon hearing that Occupy Wall Street has been forgiving peoples’ debt, she wrote: “I have hope for the first time in a very long time.”

But unfortunately, Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt division — which is in charge of this initiative — is unable to abolish a specific person’s debt.

Strike Debt says it has received thousands of similar messages from debtors with heartbreaking situations. But the debt purchasing process is random, so while the group can tell a debt collector or broker that it wants to purchase debts from a certain college, it can’t find out whose debt it is buying prior to the purchase.

Related: Senior citizens owe $18 billion in student loans

Instead, the group is encouraging people to sign up for its new Debt Collective, which aims to unite medical and student loan debtors so that they can renegotiate debts together and make change on a larger scale.

For debtors in need of more immediate help, nonprofits like the National Consumer Law Center offer resources on their websites about how to attain debt relief or set up payment plans.

And while it’s much easier to get relief for federal loans than it is for private loans, the first step in either case is to let the lender know the details of your situation.

“Struggling borrowers need to let their loan holder or servicer know they’re having difficulty, rather than just struggle in silence and give up on payment altogether,” said Allesandra Lanza, a director at nonprofit American Student Assistance.

Occupy Wall Street Returns for a Day: Climate Change Radicals Call for …

NEW YORK—Hundreds of activists marched through New York City’s financial district on Monday to protest the role they said Wall Street has played in climate change, blocking intersections on Broadway in an unsanctioned protest that led to at least three arrests. 

In an action they called Flood Wall Street, protesters gathered around the statute of the charging bull in Bowling Green Park during the first half of the day, forming a blockade nearly one block long northward. They then marched Uptown around 4 p.m. to the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, in front of the New York Stock Exchange. 

The protesters were drawn from the radical fringe of Sunday’s People’s Climate March, which drew 300,000 marchers and resulted in zero arrests, according to the city’s police. 

Whereas Sunday’s march had the support of the establishment—it counted Al Gore, Bill de Blasio, and Leonardo DiCaprio among its participants—Monday’s protests clashed with it, which for some protesters conferred more credibility on the protests. 

Protestors march towards Wall Street demanding action on climate change and corporate greed in Manhattan on Sept. 22, 2014. The protestors were also joined by council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Protestors march towards Wall Street demanding action on climate change and corporate greed in Manhattan on Sept. 22, 2014. The protestors were also joined by council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)


“It seemed like a more grass-roots action to me. There were designated free speech zones yesterday for the 400,000 people marching. We only have 3,000 people here, but we’re actually disrupting traffic,” said Max Ocean, a student at Ithaca College. “We’re making an obvious effect that these bankers, when they came out to lunch, they saw. I think that’s more powerful even though the numbers are much lower today.” 

Monday’s protest—nominally a continuation of the Sunday’s climate march—is in many ways a continuation of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many of the protesters on Monday were veterans of the 2011 movement, and they used similar techniques like mass tweeting to get a protest hashtag trending on Twitter. 

“We have taken the—one space [the charging bull] that Occupy Wall Street—could not,” said Justin Stone Diaz, an Occupy veteran, in staccato, with the crowd repeating his phrases in the human microphone fashion popular with Occupy Wall Street. “I need you right now—to get on the same page— about our hashtag. The hashtag—is the movement.” 

Billed as a climate change protest, Monday’s gathering excoriated capitalism in its rhetoric more than global warming. A few protesters wore stickers calling for an overthrow of the capitalist system via revolution, and others carried posters from the Black Rose Anarchist Federation. 

“Green capitalism is an umbrella term for businesses that label themselves as green or sustainable,” said James, 29, who carried a “Green Capitalism Can’t Save Us” placard with a black and red anarchist flag as its background. “Capitalism is inherently nonsustainable, it’s a system of endless growth … so the system in and of itself cannot be green in the sense of being sustainable.” 

By 6 p.m. the protesters were enclosed at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street by hundreds of police officers in all directions, separated by steel barricades that protesters stopped trying to overturn after being pepper sprayed. 

“The financial industry has so many ties to the oil and gas industry,” said Max Ocean. “Wall Street is the symbolic heart of capitalism. It’s not just we’re against the banking industry, this representative of the capitalist system we think is necessary to dismantle in order to receive climate justice.” 

Occupy Wall Street: How We Surprised Ourselves

By Arun Gupta

At the top of the list of what the Occupy movement accomplished is, “We surprised ourselves.”

By “we,” I mean anyone residing on the left. To be on the left is to be intimate with defeat. Sometimes defeat is heroic, as with the Spanish Civil War. Sometimes it’s betrayal, as with the fate of the Russian Revolution. Defeat can be bewildering, as in, “What happened to that moment of Feb. 15, 2003?” Often it’s just depressing, like the delirious 60s that gave way to the tortuous 80s.

Occupy, in contrast, was a rocket ship of giddiness for nearly two months. Liberals squirmed, reluctant to criticize or embrace it. Conservatives yelled from rocking chairs that the dirty hippies needed a job. Every police attack gave Occupy strength. A bewildered media tried to grasp how a leaderless movement could shake the halls of power.

It helped that there were no expectations for success. There were no pollsters tut-tutting that the 99% versus 1% was divisive. No professional organizers corralling the herd into a single message. No revolutionaries hectoring that only the scientific terms proletariat and bourgeoisie would do. No Democrats demanding that lofty aspirations be pulverized into middle-of-the-road mush.

Occupy rejected all the rules and injected its own style of class politics into the body politic. Much of the center clambered aboard the 99% train. They got the idea because they had been getting the shaft.

Soon it was Occupy everything – the banks, the homes, the hood, the workplace, universities, cinema, food, healthcare, gender, music, philosophy. Nothing, even abstractions, seemed out of our reach to recreate after checking centuries of capitalist baggage at the door. Iconic images and deeds piled up: Shamar Thomas facing down a phalanx of cops, armed with nothing but fatigues and lungs; a pepper-sprayed but defiant Dorli Rainey; the silhouette of occupiers triumphant at the shut-down Port of Oakland.

The small things made the biggest difference. Occupy changed how we felt. We were the motor of history, not just its victims. The mic check gave us a participatory society, not just one of spectacle. We could have communities where food, shelter and care were available to all comers. We had a platform to share individual grievances and hopes and find unity. The homeless had names and stories. Lost souls found a purpose. The dispossessed were abundant in human kindness and connections.

Now, we know how the story developed. As much as the police repression smashed occupations and the mainstream media returned to snarky indifference, the Occupy movement fell into bad habits. Occupy made us want to be better selves, but pettiness, paranoia and selfishness stewed beneath. Donated money and equipment was stolen. Fights broke out over control of Facebook and Twitter accounts. Shady outsiders set up a national convention unaccountable to the movement. One power-hungry individual tried to grab all the money flooding into the Occupied Wall Street Journal by seizing control of the Kickstarter campaign. One labor organizer in Los Angeles attempted but failed to hijack the entire movement there by setting up a rival occupation. Liberals succeeded in co-opting Occupy through their branded “99% movement.”

At this point, many wistfully recall the heady days of Occupy’s youth, while wrestling with the cynicism of a premature old age. We comfort ourselves with taxonomic analyses, naming every social movement that has evolved from Occupy: a changed national debate; a move-your-money campaign from banks to credit unions; a slew of new and old media projects; a robust home-foreclosure defense movement; a grassroots uprising against coal, natural gas and oil extraction; labor solidarity from coast to coast; a debt strike. Or we describe the anatomy of the movement: the slogan of “We are the 99%” that gave us a voice; the target of Wall Street that gave us a reason to be; the tactic of mic check that gave us a body; the strategy of occupation that gave us the people.

But none of this captures the heart and soul of Occupy. The sensation of surprising ourselves. That we could overcome juvenile bickering. That we could master history. That we could speak to, and not just of, the people. That we could let secret fantasies tumble from minds to mouths to a circle of people that breathed life into them and gave us a glimpse of a future we thought we would never see.

It would be easy to let acid disappointments etch away memories of dreams made real. But they were real if fleeting. And holding fast to the importance of that experience can propel us to new heights still.

Arun Gupta is an editor of the Indypendent. He’s writing a book about the decline of American Empire to be published by Haymarket Books.

This piece originally ran on September 17, 2012.

‘Flood Wall Street’ Protesters To Risk Arrest At New York Climate Change Sit-In

NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters plan to risk arrest on Monday during an unsanctioned blockade in New York City’s financial district to call attention to what organizers say is Wall Street’s contribution to climate change.
The Flood Wall Street demonstration comes on the heels of Sunday’s international day of action that brought some 310,000 people to the streets of New York City in the largest single protest ever held on over climate change.
There were no arrests or incidents in Sunday’s massive march, police said.
Flood Wall Street organizers said they wanted to use the momentum gained by Sunday’s march to “highlight the role of capitalism in fueling the climate crisis.”
As many as 2,000 participants will meet in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park before a planned noon march to Wall Street and the steps of the New York Stock Exchange for a sit-in and blockade without a police permit, event organizers said.
Some 200 people have said they will risk arrest by the New York City Police Department during the civil disobedience action, said spokeswoman Leah Hunt-Hendrix.
“This civil resistance, civil disobedience, shows a commitment to the cause,” said Hunt-Hendrix. “We are trying to escalate this as an urgent issue and show how Wall Street is profiting from the crisis.”
The event’s organizers have roots in the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in a downtown Manhattan park in 2011 to protest what it called unfair banking practices that serve the wealthiest one percent, leaving behind 99 percent of the world’s population.
Flood Wall Street said they hope Monday’s action will draw a link between economic policies and the environment, accusing top financial institutions of “exploiting frontline communities, workers and natural resources” for financial gain.
The event is part of Climate Week, which seeks to draw attention to carbon emissions and their link to global warming, and comes ahead of a Sept. 23 United Nations Climate Summit. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Writing by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Sandra Maler)

Climate March Spin-Off ‘Flood Wall Street’ Clashes With Cops

Police block protesters from reaching Wall Street (Photo: Will Bredderman).Police block protesters from reaching Wall Street (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Police block protesters from reaching Wall Street (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Yesterday’s 310,000-strong People’s Climate March pivoted left today, as hundreds of activists swamped the streets of the Financial District in a movement called “Flood Wall Street”–recalling the name, tactics and law enforcement clashes of the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011.

Environmentalist demonstrators gathered in Battery Park City at 9 a.m. and marched on the famous Charging Bull statue at the corner of Morris Street and Broadway around noon. Gone were the numerous union members–from powerful labor groups such as the Hotel Trade Council, 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers–that helped organize yesterday’s event, as was any sign of support from the business community.

Protestors carried a banner to today's action (Photo: Will Bredderman).Protestors carried a banner to today's action (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Protestors carried a banner to today’s action (Photo: Will Bredderman).

The banners raised said things like “Corporate Capitalism = Climate Chaos” and “Capitalism Has No Solutions To Climate Change,” apparently arguing that the climate march’s mission of pressuring the United Nations to create a strict emissions control treaty at its summit tomorrow is insufficient. The demonstrators closed down the streets with minimal interference from the few dozen cops on hand–who stood by as activists rearranged barricades–though the Observer witnessed two arrests take place, though no reason for either was given.

At 4 p.m., the Flooders marched on fortified Wall Street.

“People gonna rise like water, gonna calm this crisis down. All your sons and daughters, gonna shut Wall Street down,” the demonstrators–a mix of 20-, 30-and 60- and 70-somethings–sang as they made their way up Broadway toward the famous financial center.

Police were ready with reinforcements, officers in riot gear, police vehicles and more barriers. As the protesters attempted to turn onto the corridor, the police pushed back, resulting in several minutes of intense shoving in which the Observer witnessed at least one officer use pepper-spray on an agitator.

“Who do you protect?” The protesters yelled in unison. “Who do you serve?”

After an apparent stalemate, the protesters sat in the street, and what followed could have been a scene from Zuccotti Park two blocks away and three years before–complete with call-and-response “mic checks,” chants about justice and peace, trombone and sax players and dancers on stilts.

Dozens of officers surrounded the protest (Photo: Will Bredderman).Dozens of officers surrounded the protest (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Dozens of officers surrounded the protest (Photo: Will Bredderman).

“Remember the history of this place!” one young woman got up and shouted, the crowd echoing her every sentence. “It was named because there was a wall here built on the backs of African slaves. And today, we all live on a giant plantation!”

Meanwhile, two walls of cops closed off Broadway a block away in either direction. The action did not go unnoticed.

“The police are here, and they have batons, and enough zip ties for everybody!” yelled a young man in another “mic check.”

Organizers acknowledged the debt to Occupy, and a break from the inclusiveness of Sunday’s march–which promised in its subway ads to get “hipsters and bankers marching together.”

“Yesterday was more of a feel-good event,” said spokesman Goldi Guerra, himself a veteran of the 2011 protest. “The difference between yesterday and today is that yesterday worked within the system that’s destroying the planet. This is about getting out of that system.”

Others who put the event together argued that Flood Wall Street was a natural outgrowth of the People’s Climate March, pointing out that environmentalist Bill McKibben–whose 1989 book The End of Nature popularized the theory of global warming, and who envisioned yesterday’s cavalcade–spoke at Occupy Wall Street and has been a longtime critic of big business.

“He encouraged the ‘Flood Wall Street’ movement to make this connection between major corporations and climate change,” said organizer Elizabeth Press. “I think we have his blessing, even if it is not a direct extension of the People’s Climate March.”

Just like Occupy, today’s protests ended in arrests. Though the NYPD only confirmed three apprehensions, police reportedly as many as one hundred people into custody after night fell, including two women dressed as eco-friendly cartoon character Captain Planet and one man dressed as a polar bear.

There was relatively little resentment expressed toward police, who some argued helped the movement accomplish its mission by closing off the corridor.

“I want to thank the NYPD. It was the NYPD that shut down Wall Street,” said Mitchel Cohen, an organizer of the Brooklyn Green Party.

Thousands Re-Kindle Occupy Wall Street

The demonstrators during a sit-in on Broadway. (Photo: John Light)

On Monday, a day after an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people participated in the People’s Climate March in New York, a smaller group of activists set out to shut down Wall Street.

The day began with a festive atmosphere, and ended with clashes between protesters and police, who dispersed pepper spray and made dozens of arrests. Some of those arrested had planned on being detained as an act of civil disobedience; others were caught in the fray as tensions heated up during the afternoon.

Earlier in the day, heirs to the Rockefeller family — which made its vast fortune from oil — announced their philanthropic organization is to sell off their investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, joining a growing global initiative called Global Divest-Invest.

The day’s events began with a rally, dubbed “Flood Wall Street,” in Manhattan’s Battery Park. Authors Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, as well as several grassroots activists from parts of the world that have already felt the acute effects of global warming, fired up a crowd that organizers said numbered between 2,000 and 3,000.

(The idea of flooding wall street is not an empty metaphor — by 2050, a significant portion of the financial district will be vulnerable to a rising sea as global warming progresses.)

Naomi Klein addresses the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

Naomi Klein addresses the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

“We are powered by the knowledge that the same system of short-term profit and deregulated greed that deepens inequality and forecloses on homes is the very same system that is foreclosing on our collective home,” said Klein, who argues in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism v. the Climate, that the time for “politely” lobbying our elites to address the crisis has passed. “Yesterday we heard calls for action. We don’t just want action from our elites, we demand justice from below.”

Ta'Kaiya Blaney, a 12-year-old singer-songwriter from the Sliammon First Nation in Canada. (Photo: John Light)

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a 12-year-old singer-songwriter from the Sliammon First Nation in Canada. (Photo: John Light)

“We have seen some of the most devastating industrial attacks of destruction — and when I say ‘we have seen,’ by ‘we’ I mean the youth,” said Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a 12-year-old singer-songwriter from the Sliammon First Nation in Canada, addressing the crowd. “The time to speak up was yesterday and the days before. The time to act is now.”

Chris Hedges speaks at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

Chris Hedges speaks at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

“Up that road lies the Emerald City of Wall Street,” declared Hedges. “In that city, the wizards of finance profit from the death of the planet. The wizards own the press, the politicians, the courts and the government. No one will stop them but the people. We are the people — this means revolution!”

The atmosphere was reminiscent of the mostly dormant Occupy Movement — and it was clear that many of the activists were veterans of Occupy Wall Street. Speakers used a “human mic” to get the crowd up to speed on the strategy for the day, with one individual shouting instructions and the crowd repeating them back for everyone to hear. Organizers planned  a series of maneuvers that they hoped would bring them to the heart of Wall Street.

Kate McNeely at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: Joshua Holland)

Kate McNeely at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: Joshua Holland)

The protesters wanted to highlight the connection between a warming planet and the dominant form of lightly regulated capitalism. “The people who are profiting from the destruction of our planet are all on Wall Street, said 29-year-old Kate McNeely of New York City, who planned on being arrested. “We’re running out of time, and people need to listen.”

“I feel like this is a natural extension of the People’s Climate March,” McNeely said. “In the long tradition of nonviolent action, we’re saying that we not only have the numbers, but also the strength to hold fast until our leaders not only take action against climate change but also stop allowing the future of our planet being dictated by large corporations.”

Richard Lynch at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: Joshua Holland)

Richard Lynch at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: Joshua Holland)

“I’m a botanist professionally, and I work on endangered native plant species, and climate change is having a big effect, said 52-year-old Richard Lynch. “And it’s not just rising sea levels — the fauna and flora of our country is changing. And as someone who cares about these issues, I felt that I needed to be here.” Lynch said that he had been arrested 15 times during three years with Occupy Wall Street.

“I feel very strongly that the banks and the stock exchange are at the core of so many of the issues that other activists are working on. I want to stand up for them as well — there are a lot of people who would be here if they could.”

The demonstrators march up Broadway toward Wall Street. (Photo: John Light)

The demonstrators march up Broadway toward Wall Street. (Photo: John Light)

As the protesters left Battery Park shortly before noon, they immediately began a game of cat and mouse with police. They quickly abandoned the route that officers were directing them to take, dodging along Broadway through morning rush-hour traffic. They reversed course several times, forcing police and the media to catch up. But police appeared to have been prepared for the maneuvers, and the crowd soon found themselves penned in near the iconic Wall Street bronze bull, a couple of blocks south from where Wall Street intersects with Broadway.

Representatives of a larger contingent of North American indigenous peoples protest at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

Representatives of a larger contingent of North American indigenous peoples protest at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

For several hours, thousands of activists sat down in the middle of the street, on either side of the bull. They spoke, chanted slogans and sang. A man in a polar bear suit made an appearance. The situation appeared calm.

Then, at 3:30 p.m., one demonstrator suggested via the human mic that the group, which had dwindled in size but was still several-hundred strong, pick up their banners and move north, toward Wall Street. The crowd advanced, with a growing number of police moving ahead of them on foot and motorcycles.

New York Police officers and protestors clash at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

New York Police officers and protestors clash at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

When the demonstrators attempted to turn onto Wall Street, the police locked metal barricades into place, while mounted officers waited along the narrow cobbled road that ran toward the stock exchange building. The protestors pushed against the barricades and the police pushed back, resulting in a struggle that lasted for several minutes during which the police received reinforcements dressed in riot gear. A few demonstrators were hit with pepper spray, and a few others arrested.

A protestor is arrested at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

A protestor is arrested at the Flood Wall Street protest. (Photo: John Light)

But the mood soon quieted. Pizza appeared, and some protestors threw baking soda, dyed blue, into the air, to represent the “flood” that did succeed in shutting down several blocks of Broadway and a corner of Wall Street, frustrating those who worked in the neighborhood as they fought their way to the subway following the closing bell.

A protester is cuffed at the intersection of Wall St. and Broad St. in New York, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. The protesters, many who were affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, were trying to draw attention to the connection between capitalism and environmental destruction. Eventually more than fifty protesters that would not move from the intersection were taken into custody. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A protester is cuffed at the Flood Wall Street march. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

By 6:30, police gave an order to disperse. The few dozen protestors who remained after the warning were arrested and walked one-by-one to a police bus waiting nearby.

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Over 100 Activists Arrested On Wall Street After Day Of Protests

Flood Wall Street flyer TwitterA promotion for #FloodWallStreet posted on Twitter by @YourAnonNews, an account affiliated with the hacker group Anonymous.

Activists gathered on Monday morning in Manhattan’s financial district, where they said they planned to stage a mass “sit-in” to protest Wall Street for “financing climate change.” The event was being promoted as “#FloodWallStreet” on social media.

#FloodWallStreet arrestsBen WinsorArrests being made at the #FloodWallStreet protest.

According to a press release sent out by organizers on Monday morning, #FloodWallStreet was to include “masses of activists in blue sitting-in and risking arrest, accompanied by a 15-foot inflatable ‘carbon bubble,’ a marching band, oversized puppets, a 300-foot #FloodWallStreet banner, and other large-scale art pieces.”

The protest comes one day after Sunday’s “People’s Climate March” in which over 300,000 people including many celebrities and politicians marched through New York to demand action to fight climate change ahead of United Nations’ Climate Summit.

Business Insider was on the ground at the protests and continuously updated this post with reports.

Update (8:07 p.m.) — After a lengthy sit-in at the Wall Street bull statue, the protesters attempted to march toward the stock exchange, where several arrests were made. Shortly before 7 p.m., police began telling protesters to leave the area, threatening them with arrest if they failed to comply. Officers eventually began arresting the activists and loading them into buses.

Our full liveblog of the day’s events is below. Scroll down to the bottom for the latest updates.

Flood Wall Street Protest Colin CampbellPeople gathered in Battery Park for the Flood Wall Street protest.

10:37 a.m. — According to the press release, the protesters are currently gathered in Battery Park for “non-violent direct action trainings” and speeches. Business Insider estimates there are at least 200 people in attendance. 

A female speaker, who used the call-and-response “people’s mic” technique popularized during the Occupy Wall Street protests, emphasized a connection to those demonstrations, which began on Sept. 17, 2011. 

“Three years ago, almost today … a few blocks from here, the Occupy movement was born to put corporate capitalism on trial. The entire world listened and the debate about inequality opened up that rages until this day,” the woman said. “And now we are back … We never went away. We were organizing in our communities. And now we are back with the power of the water behind us to fight back like the Earth itself is fighting back.”

Park officials are using yellow tape to keep the crowds off the grass. Police are already set up outside the park. According to the press release, the demonstrators are scheduled to begin marching through the financial district at 11:30 a.m.  

11:16 a.m.  Another speaker told the group they expected to face “relatively minor charges” after the sit-in. They suggested it was the “perfect” protest to participate in for those who have “never been arrested before.” 

#FloodWallStreet protesters Colin Campbell#FloodWallStreet protesters preparing to march on the Financial District.

11:37 a.m.  After a speaker discussed an Occupy Wall Street “bail fund” that they said could be used for protesters who were arrested, the crowd began to form in groups and prepare to march from the park toward Wall Street. Business Insider observed the crowd has swelled and now includes several hundred people. The NYPD did not respond to an email asking about their plans for the protests or how many people they believe are participating. 

Business Insider’s Colin Campbell, who is in the crowd, said that, as they prepared to march, members of the group raised concerns that there were “too many white men in the front carrying the banner.” Using the people’s mic, they managed to assemble a more diverse group to lead the march. 

11:44 a.m.  The protesters began marching shortly before 11:40 a.m. 

According to a flyer distributed in the crowd, the protesters are planning to stage their “action” at noon near the New York Stock Exchange at the corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street.

#FloodWallStreet Carbon Bubble Colin Campbell The “carbon bubble” at the #FloodwallStreet march.

11:57 a.m.  The protesters are marching down Broadway and bouncing what the press release described as the “a 15-foot inflatable ‘carbon bubble'” in the air. According to Campbell, the bubble, which appears to be a large fabric ball, is “bouncing off cars,” and Broadway is “stopped 100%.” 

12:04 p.m.  #FloodWallStreet protesters have begun their sit-in. Some have started to sit down by the “Charging Bull” statue near Wall Street and others are continuing to march. According to Campbell, about 100 protesters are seated near the statue, and many are singing. 

12:19 p.m.  Police are standing by and watching the group of protesters who are sitting around the bull statue. 


12:33 p.m.  According to MSNBC’s Ned Resnikoff, the NYPD has moved “at least one large NYPD bus and several vans” to the corner of Beaver Street to potentially arrest protesters.

12:50 p.m.  Police have set up barricades around the area and are working to keep the sidewalks clear for pedestrians, but Business Insider has not yet seen any arrests. 

Police #FloodWallStreet protestBen Winsor Police assembled near the #FloodWallStreet protest.

1:06 p.m.  Business Insider’s Ben Winsor, who has also arrived to cover the protests, reports police have barricaded and cleared Wall Street. A group of officers on horseback are assembled behind the barricades out of view of the protesters. 

#FloodWallStreet carbon bubbleColin CampbellPolice officers deflating the #FloodWallStreet “carbon bubble.”

1:13 p.m.  About 20 police officers with plastic handcuffs have positioned themselves near the protesters seated by the bull. Earlier, police deflated one of the “carbon bubbles” used by the protesters who booed and chanted “Pigs!” 

1:42 p.m.  Protesters remain seated by the bull statue with police assembled to the north of the statue. The crowd was chanting about “staying here a while” and joking about ordering pizza. Broadway is still shut down from Morris to Beaver Streets.

Business Insider interviewed a man in a polar bear costume who said he came from the North Pole.

“My home is melting and we’re the early warning system,” the man said. “If the ice caps melt, how long before North America, South America, and Europe are underwater?”

The man later clarified he was actually from Shelter Cove, California.

A police officer told Business Insider he did not know how long the protest would continue.

“It’s up to them,” the officer said. “Ask any one of them.”  

2:00 p.m.  Many of the protesters seated by the bull are currently dancing and entertaining themselves with renditions of MC Hammer’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” and the Reel 2 Real’s classic “I Like To Move It.” 

#FloodWallStreetBen Winsor The sit-in near the Wall Street bull statue.

2:19 p.m.  A group of people brought pizza to the protesters leading to a chance of “Pizza, reheated, will never be defeated!” According to Newsweek reporter Zoe Schlanger, the protesters ordered 400 pizzas. 

Journalist Nick Pinto reports one of the activists announced via the “people’s mic” that the protesters intend to remain by the bull statue “through the closing bell and beyond.” 

3:18 p.m.  A group of the protest organizers are gathered together and voting on their next move. 

“Our options are; we can sit, we can stay here, or we can go up Wall Street,” a female protester said. “The stay option in, we stay, for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever until the cops make us leave and arrest some people.”

Another man suggested the sit-in already accomplished its goals by showing strength.

“We have done it. We have fucking won,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if our numbers diminish now.

“It doesn’t matter if our numbers diminish now.”

Another woman in the group echoed this view.

“Now our work here is done,” she said. “We can march out of here. We will march out to Wall Street together.” 

3:22 p.m.  The group has concluded its vote. It decided to speak to the larger crowd and continue playing music by the bull before marching up Wall Street toward the stock exchange in time for the closing bell at 4 p.m.

3:29 p.m. — A woman addressed the crowd and praised its members for their participation in the protest.

“We’ve accomplished something huge. People don’t get in the street all the time,” she said to cheers. “We’re being super disruptive in one of the economic centers of the entire world. We all know that what happens at the stock exchange is fueling climate chaos.”

#FloodWallStreet protestersBen Winsor #FloodWallStreet protesters marching toward the stock exchange.

3:47 p.m.  The protesters are now en route to the stock exchange. Police are walking in front of the crowd. 

3:55 p.m.  The protesters have arrived at barricades on Wall Street, where they are clashing with police. Officers are pushing the barricades in front of the protesters and arrests are being made. The NYPD has not responded to a request from Business Insider asking how many arrests have been made and why. 

3:59 p.m.  Multiple arrests have been made. Business Insider’s Ben Winsor saw one man who was arrested while being covered by police on the ground. Some of the protesters are chanting “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” Plastic handcuffs are being distributed among the police officers. 

4:03 p.m.  At least eight of the police officers on scene at the protest are wearing riot helmets. Some of the protesters are chanting, “Riot gear, that’s not cool.”  

4:08 p.m.  According to Fusion’s Tim Pool, police have fired pepper spray on some of the reporters. 

5:32 p.m.  A blue smoke appeared in the middle of the protest and was apparently thrown by the protesters.

IMG958848_2Business Insider

5:38 p.m. 

5:45 p.m.  The NYPD told Business Insider that only pepper spray had been used to control the crowd thus far. 

“There have been erroneous reports that the NYPD employed tear gas and mace, when in fact we use neither. Pepper spray was used as a force continuum,” the NYPD said.

5:50 p.m.  The man throwing money in the 5:38 p.m. update said his name was Graham Boyle. He described himself as a “freelance artist” and said his cash-throwing protest consisted of $200 in singles.

“It was self-financed by a collective I work with called Patches and Flags,” he said.
Hot dog standHunter Walker/Business InsiderMohamed Elroby runs a hot dog stand at the epicenter of the protests.

Boyle’s group was planning to pay for their expenses traveling from Washington DC to participate in the climate protests. Last night, he said they began speaking about how “capitalism is the root cause of a lot of the climate crisis” and decided on doing a “creative, poetic, symbolic performance or action.” He said throwing the money was designed to show that “our community and our movement can subsist without money.”

“We can create alternatives and find sustainable models of production,” he said.

6:25 p.m.  Mohamed Elroby runs the hot dog stand across from Trinity Church, which is at the epicenter of the protests. He said the #FloodWallStreet demonstration has been “very bad” for business.

“They block the streets; my customers can’t come,” he said.

6:42 p.m.  A protester began speaking via the “people’s mic.” 

“The officers on the other side have put their helmets on. We’re pretty sure this is just to intimidate us,” he said.

He then encouraged media to “take a look.” 

6:45 p.m.  Cops have begun asking protesters to leave the area and have warned protesters they will be arrested if they do not leave.

You are unlawfully obstructing vehicular traffic. I am ordering you to leave this roadway now,” one cop said. Protesters have countered by asking cops to go home.

Here’s a video, shot by Business Insider’s Hunter Walker, of police telling protesters to leave:

 7:10 p.m.  Police officers were overheard worrying whether there were “enough witnesses” to avoid being accused of misconduct.

7:15 p.m.  The NYPD crackdown on the protest appears to have begun. At least three more individuals have been arrested so far. The crowd is chanting “thank you” as officers begin to round up the demontrators and load them into a nearby police vehicle. 

7:23 p.m.  The arrests keep coming, including the man in the polar bear costume interviewed by Business Insider earlier in the day.

7:38 p.m.  “They came here with the plan to get arrested,” a police officer told reporters of the demonstration. The officers have methodically continued to arrest the protesters, including two dressed in costumes from “Captain Planet.” 

IMG_2815_2Hunter Walker

7:48 p.m.  Overall, the civil disobediance arrests appear to be noticeably calmer and more peaceful than other protests in recent years, especially the original Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2011. One police officer present told Business Insider that Mayor Bill de Blasio, elected in 2013, won on a “certain mandate” and has a “certain outlook.”

8:01 p.m.  Police appear to have filled one bus with arrested demonstrators, who are now being moved to a second one. 


8:05 p.m.  NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has arrived on the scene. One person shouted insults at Bratton as he approached. A police officer with him smiled and laughed.

Asked if he had any interest in speaking to the press, Bratton told Business Insider, “Not at the time.”

8:10 p.m. — Four activists in wheelchairs were among the last group of protesters arrested.

8:16 p.m. — All the protesters who were in the street have been removed. The rest of the activists have been pushed back behind police barricades. 

8:19 p.m. — An officer with the NYPD communications team said 102 protesters were arrested in the evening event at Wall St. and two more protesters were arrested earlier in the day  bringing the total arrested to 104. The four activists in wheelchairs were given criminal court summonses in lieu of arrest, the officer said.

(Correction 5:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described a gas as “apparently” coming from the NYPD when its source was unclear. This story was originally posted at 10:36 a.m.)

Occupy Wall Street

This article originally appeared on Slate.

My Twitter feed and my email inbox are in tension. Conservatives have been passing around a story on Twitter from the Washington Free Beacon, which has been doing great work unearthing new items from Hillary Clinton’s past. The paper found a 1971 letter from Clinton to radical socialist organizer Saul Alinsky.

The argument is that Clinton, who wrote her thesis on Alinsky’s methods and his approach to alleviating poverty, retains her college-era radicalism. But at the same time, the Republican National Committee is filling my inbox with emails plinking Clinton for her relationships with celebrities, fat cats, and financiers as part of her work with the Clinton Global Initiative, which holds its annual gathering this week in New York. The GOP committee asserts that Clinton’s coziness with the wealthy and powerful are going to cause her trouble with the liberal Elizabeth Warren wing of her party. The only way this tension could be reconciled is if Clinton appears at the Clinton Global Initiative and protests herself.

Despite the enthusiasm with which some conservatives greeted the Alinsky revelation, it’s unlikely to break out into the general political conversation. The letter, while an interesting artifact, doesn’t add much to the story of Clinton’s well-known liberal college days and is at odds with the reigning Republican critique of the moment.

Why does anyone care about a 43-year-old letter? Origin stories can be powerful in politics. They can contain easily digestible nuggets from which voters can form instinctual impressions about a candidate.

Bill Clinton recast his image during his 1992 convention video by highlighting his humble upbringing, branding himself as the Man From Hope and connecting himself with Democratic icon John Kennedy through old footage of the two shaking hands. Democrats tried to use George W. Bush’s origin story against him, painting him as a callow youth besotted with drink. Obama’s lack of an origin story was a liability for him. When former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was considering running for president, he offered an opinion about why there were so many rumors about President Obama and his upbringing. “There’s not much known about him, in college, or growing up. … We don’t know any of the childhood things,” he said. By comparison, he said, we all knew that George Washington “chopped down a cherry tree.” (Which, of course, is the original apocryphal origin story.)

Clinton has used her origin story to tell people who she is now. Before she ran for the presidency in 2008, her first autobiography described growing up in the heartland as a Methodist helping poor families and her journey from Goldwater Girl to campus radical. At Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry in Iowa last weekend, she was doing it again, talking about the values her mother taught her about giving people a second chance. The message was that she was raised with a certain set of values that she retains even today, no matter how high she has risen in life.

Now conservatives are trying to make a similar case about the indelible markings of her youth. The Alinsky connection will no doubt start appearing in the speeches of Clinton’s possible GOP presidential rivals. Though she refers to their biennial conversations, the connection sounds more sinister than talking about her more protracted work for George McGovern in 1972 or any number of other liberal associations she’s had. But that’s about as far as it’s likely to go as a political weapon. No one outside of conservative circles or liberal organizations knows who Saul Alinsky is–in part because he died in 1972. If you try to explain why a more than four-decade-old letter is so important, regular voters are going to think you’re a little overheated. (And if they don’t, then they probably already believe far worse about Clinton.)

As a political matter, origin stories work when voters don’t know much about the candidate or when the past confirms a current caricature. Clinton is perhaps the most well-covered likely presidential candidate since Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. And the dominant Republican caricature of her is the direct opposite of this Alinsky-inspired one.

For the last several months, Clinton detractors have been working to convey the impression that her wealth has walled her off from regular people and that her attempts to claim solidarity with the middle class through tales of being “dead broke” were laughable. Alinsky writes in Rules for Radicals: “The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.” The Clintons are not the Have-Nots. That’s why on the Free Beacon website the story right above the story on the Alinsky letters is about how Clinton’s wealth reveals how she has broken so thoroughly with Alinsky’s teachings.

If the story of Clinton’s liberal past hadn’t appeared in a conservative outlet, someone might have accused Clinton of planting it to restore her liberal credibility among Democratic primary voters. Though it’s not likely to do much good, since liberals are familiar with Clinton’s past. A letter from Nixon’s first term isn’t going to convince them of much. Tell them who her economic advisers will be and they might change their opinion that she is a member of the Democratic Party’s Wall Street wing.

The burden of this discovery is not just to prove that Clinton is a limousine liberal, which she obviously is. The claim emanating from this old correspondence is that she is a closet Alinskyite–a sleeper cell of one prepping for radical redistribution. For more than 40 years, she has been biding her time, amassing a fortune, hanging out with the privileged that Alinsky despised, asking them repeatedly for money to fuel her campaigns, voting for foreign military intervention, and consistently infuriating the grassroots liberals most likely to join in an Alinskylike crusade all in furtherance of an Alinsky revolution that she will spring on the country once she’s elected.

That is nuts. What’s more plausible is that Hillary Clinton is a liberal with some lumpy mix of pragmatism and expedience gained through experience. Also, if she’s an acolyte of Saul Alinsky at the genetic level, she wouldn’t have been so thoroughly out-organized in the 2008 Democratic primary by a community organizer from Chicago trained in the Alinsky method.

Scenes From Flood Wall Street, Occupy’s ‘Family Reunion’

Demonstrators sit in the middle of Broadway during the Flood Wall Street protest.

Photo: Bryan Thomas/2014 Getty Images

A baby at her breast, Stacey Hessler looks like a radical Madonna in pink Converse as she tries to avoid the NYPD officers arresting protestors during Monday’s Flood Wall Street demonstration. This was her two-month-old daughter Joy’s second protest. Her first was Sunday’s Climate March.

“I’m here to connect climate change to Wall Street,” Hessler says as Joy cries in a swaddle and helicopters circle overhead. “I was part of Occupy Wall Street and it kind of got tiring just protesting, because it seemed like we weren’t really changing anything.”

On the heels of Sunday’s giant People’s Climate March, about 1,000 protestors, dressed in ocean blue, descended on lower Manhattan the next morning to protest the financial industry’s role in climate change. Although the sit-in drew individuals from across the country, many were the same protestors who had camped out in Zuccotti Park three years earlier to Occupy Wall Street.

A woman demonstrates in the middle of Broadway during the Flood Wall Street protest.

Photo: Bryan Thomas/2014 Getty Images

“The Occupy movement was what it was,” says protestor Sandy Nurse. “But there is an extended family of people who met through that, and this is an intention of that deepening of the work.”

The protestors rallied, blocked traffic, listened to speakers like Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, and learned new water-friendly hand signals. (Flood is two arms moving forward as if directing a plane, also useful for directing crowds. Sink is two hands, palms down, moving downward parallel to each other, which can encourage people to sit down.)

“It’s like a family reunion,” says protestor Rami Shamir. “I was involved in Occupy from the start, and a lot of times when it is a permitted march, it feels [like] asking your lords for permission, and today just showed we don’t have to ask permission.”

Around midday, the crowd converged on Bowling Green near the famed Wall Street Bull, and the blocks filled with hundreds of protestors. A giant banner was unfurled, a brass band played, and the pizza support teams arrived by 4 p.m. with fresh pies.

Demonstrators unfurl a banner on Broadway during Flood Wall Street.

Photo: Bryan Thomas/2014 Getty Images

“While yesterday lay the groundwork, a lot of people were excited by today because it wasn’t a corporate sponsored parade,” says Eco Lake, 35, from Dutchess County, who previously ran a massage table in Zuccotti and is known for periodically blowing a conch shell.

Unlike the Occupy protests in 2011, which were often characterized by intense clashes between protestors and police, the demonstration remained mostly peaceful.

“If the cops had tried to close in on us at 2, 3, or 4, there would have been a lot of people arrested,” Lake says. “There was a call to stay until 5 p.m, then there was a general dispersal, and people felt a sense of victory.”

Some protestors talked about staying the night, but by about 6 p.m., those who refused to move were gradually corralled, arrested, and taken away on NYPD buses. The NYPD says 104 people were taken to jail — including one polar bear.