Occupy Wall St. gets sprayed with attention

Downtown Express photo (left) by Milo Hess and (right) by John Bayles

For more than one week protestors have been camping out in Zuccotti Park, decrying the role of big business in politics and how, in the group’s opinion, a wealthy few have used their power to influence government.

That was the message behind the “99 percent” march on Saturday, Sept. 24. The march’s moniker referred to the notion that the wealthiest one percent of Americans, via corporate interests, have exerted their control over the remaining 99 percent of Americans.

The media had largely ignored the “occupation” until Saturday. As the protestors marched along Broadway to Union Square in the afternoon, they veered west one block to University Street. When the protestors began to block traffic the NYPD stepped in and the result was a mass arrest of dozens of marchers. In total over 80 arrests were made on Saturday.

At the corner of Broadway and 12th Street, a group of protestors corralled behind a NYPD barricade received a shot of pepper spray to their faces. The NYPD has acknowledged the use of pepper spray to control the crowd but would not comment on the specifics of the incident.

As the police began arresting the marchers and lining them up along side of a building on 12th Street and 5th Avenue, crowds gathered to gawk and voice their support for the marchers. Due to the high number of arrests, in addition to the regular NYPD vans, the police used an MTA bus to carry the arrested marchers to the First Precinct. The officers loaded the arrested protestors onto the vehicle two-at-a-time, and the crowd chanted, “Shame on the MTA,” as the bus pulled away.

As of Tuesday the protestors were still occupying the park.

—- John Bayles