10 Arrests Reported in Washington Square Park Demonstration

Police close the park. Video by Susan Keyloun.

While protests at Tompkins Square Park remained modest earlier today and into the evening, a large crowd (estimated by Occupy Wall Street to number over 3,000) gathered at Washington Square Park Saturday night, including many who had attended an earlier protest in Times Square. Ten arrests were reported after police moved into the park to enforce a midnight closing time.

Around 9 p.m., the park’s fountain was packed full of demonstrators – mostly students, it seemed – chanting, waving placards (along with a homemade fake guillotine) and hoisting a banner reading “Everyone’s Invited.” A circle of onlookers – four or five bodies deep – gathered around the perimeter of the fountain to (barely) hear call-and-response speeches along the lines of “Today it’s McDonaldsism from which the globe suffers. The connection between commerce and peace is a lie.”

Early on, just a handful of police officers were seen mixing with the crowd, while some four dozen more milled around at the park’s northern entrance. Those numbers grew as the evening progressed, and by 11:30 p.m., officers on horseback and in riot gear were lined up along the iconic arch, offering Tweeters a dramatic photo op.

archDaniel Maurer

Darnell Celius, 32, an electrician, hoisted what may have been the demonstration’s most colorful statement – a reproduction of the “human centipede” from the movie of the same name, made from recycled garbage, masking tape, and bubble wrap.  He explained, “In the front is corporate, government, and police.” The people, he said, were behind them, taking it from them.

Fifteen minutes before the park’s midnight closing, demonstrators were warned to exit, at which point many began marching out. The sidewalks at Washington Square Park South were jammed, and police eventually blocked off a portion of sidewalk near the southeast corner.

After midnight, Josh Harkinson, a staff writer for “Mother Jones,” tweeted: “There are about 10 or 15 people still in the park, all singing Woodie Guthri[e] songs, surrounded by more than 100 riot cops in face shields.” Community affairs officers tried to get them to leave, he said, and “then the riot cops poured in with zip cuffs, and I began backing out. Barely made it out. Several cops wanted to arrest me.”

The Associated Press reported that 10 protesters were arrested in the park.

Around 1 a.m., a smattering of participants remained outside the southeast corner of the park. A man yelled out that 20% of the police officers stationed at the intersection would not have jobs next year. One officer was seen grinning and shaking his head.