9:44 am May. 2, 2012
After yesterday afternoon's free concert in Union Square, thousands of demonstrators flowed out of the crowded park and south down Broadway to continue their protest in lower Manhattan.
All told, there were thousands representing traditional union-backed demonstrators, Occupy-affiliated protestors and advocates for causes like the DREAM Act and increased funding for higher education.
At first many of the groups were finely divided between clearly defined unions, but they gradually gave way to a scattering of grassroots causes, homemade banners and vibrant street theater.
Police, having closed Broadway, led the group; the first protesters crossed the intersection of Astor Place and Broadway at 5:52 p.m. Among them, in order, were the following:
- The Taxi Workers Alliance, among them five yellow taxis and Executive Director Bhairavi Desai
- The American Postal Workers’ Union; a man dressed (or undressed) like Jesus and holding a cross
- 30 immigrant-rights activists
- 10 members of the Laundry Workers Center
- 80-100 people with the Transit Workers Union
- A man riding a bicycle with three garbage cans attached, surrounded by several people in costumes including Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird
- Six Teamsters banging drums
- 35 green-clad members of public sector union, DC37
- Members of the Communication Workers of America holding signs with a caricature of Mayor Michael Bloomberg riding the Wall Street Bull
- 60 protestors from LiUNA, wearing orange and supporting immigration reform
- The Musicians Union (one sign: “Eliminate the sour notes”)
- The United Federation of Teachers
- A New Orleans-style second-line with 20 people playing brass instruments
- Signs supporting Artists Against Capitalism, holding red and white signs and more colorful banners calling for an “Art Strike”
- 100 or so not clearly affiliated people and some from the Workers' World Party banging plastic buckets
- More immigrants’ rights activists wearing green and orange shirts
- SEIU 1199, possibly the most well organized of the unions; its leader, with a megaphone, prompted those around them to yell, “Go Union, Go Union, Go!”
As about half of the procession made its way throught the intersection, there was a small contingent from the Socialist Party USA and the march was stalled.
Pat Meany, a 53-year-old art fan and former roadie from Hackensack, N.J., was holding a wooden peace sign and covered with abstract shapes from his helmet, leather vest, pants and shoes. He said it took him 25 hours to just to paint the pants.
“You get a pair that’s white,” he said. “Then you’ve gotta draw the design out, then you gotta paint it in and you’ve gotta have a picture of what it’s going to look like when its done in your mind. But the thing is, I’ve done so many of these, usually you’ve gotta lay out three of my old ones and say ‘I want this, I want this, and I want that’ and I’ll work in some new stuff.”
As he was saying he preferred the art of Norman Rockwell to that of Andy Warhol, the line began again to move.
- Six “Tax Dodgers” dressed in mock baseball uniforms
- Two members of the National Lawyers’ Guild
- Several hundred otherwise apparently unaffiliated members of Occupy Wall Street holding large "Occupy" banners and surrounded by police on both sides
- Two dozen activists with Philippine groups such as the Philippine Forum
- More immigrants’ rights activists including a several folk dancers, a man with a Mexican Wrestler mask and one with a giant sombrero
- More police
- The New York Street Vendors Project
- Someone with a "Protest Like an Egyptian" T-shirt
- Ten people, seemingly from n+1, some handing out copies of the Occupy Gazette
- Several people waving Puerto Rican flags and urging the U.S. government free its political prisoners
- A contingent from Occupy the Department of Education, and a man with a sign that said "Child Labor makes cell phones"
- Two people in "Zeitgeist Entertainment" T-shirts, one of whom told me there was no mainstream media in the crowd
- Two people holding a bike rack wrapped in newsprint
- 50 more socialists and a group that included banners for Occupy Queens
- The Kasama Project, a communist offshoot of Occupy Wall Steet
- 30 people in the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY
- A man dressed as Captain America
- 25 people from the Theater for the New City with an elaborate cloth ship (“We’re in the same boat,” was the message)
- Enormous puppets of Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty
- Another second-line
- Someone dressed as a house, decrying toxic mortgages
- Six more Lawyers Guild legal observers
- And, finally, at 6:45 p.m., a phalanx of police followed by 27 different police cars and vans, one of which said: “Join Us Call: 212-Recruit.”
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