Massive May Day March Ends Where Occupy Wall Street Began

Photos: Tim Schreier

A May Day march from Union Square to Wall Street, which some estimated to be over 30,000 people strong, ended with hundreds of participants gathering at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza near Battery Park, and then at Zuccotti Park after they were pushed out of the plaza by police.

The permitted march, which began after Tom Morello and members of his “guitarmy” performed at Union Square, stretched many blocks down Broadway and was both leisurely and boisterous. There was, however, the occasional scuffle: as The Local previously reported, bystanders booed and chanted “Shame!” as a photographer was arrested for climbing atop a food cart to take bird’s-eye photos. The police estimated that there were “above 30” arrests throughout the day, but were not able to give an exact number as of 2 a.m.

revbillyDaniel Maurer Rev. Billy applauds police officers.

Around 7:40 p.m., the tail end of the march crossed Chambers Street and shortly after, a contingent of demonstrators flocked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza at 55 Water Street. There, speakers addressed a few hundred people seated on the sunken plaza’s dramatically lit steps. The police presence was light at first, but as hundreds more poured into the plaza, multiple NYPD scooters, vans, and buses started amassing. Soon enough, the park resembled Zuccotti Park at its liveliest.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the plaza was cleared. Ryan Devereaux, a journalist at The Guardian, reported seeing “people getting arrested and hurt on Pearl Street” and tweeted a photograph of two arrestees being put in a police van. Christopher Robbins, a reporter for Gothamist, also witnessed three arrests in front of the plaza and photographed arrests at Hanover and Pearl Streets.

By 11 p.m., around 200 people – including the musician David Peel – had marched to Zuccotti Park. The scene was, for the most part, mellow and self-congratulatory, with the occasional “mic check” to discuss strategies for exiting the park without incident. Rumors that the police planned to close down the park at midnight did not come to fruition, and many were still milling there when The Local left around 12:30 a.m.

cooperunionStephen Rex Brown Protest at Cooper Union.

Earlier in the day, as the march down Broadway was leaving Union Square, 100 others gathered in front of Cooper Union’s Great Hall in response to the annual public meeting of the city’s Rent Guidelines Board.

Each year the board establishes the maximum increase for rent-stabilized apartments, and each year tenants say it’s gone too far.

“As working class people our rent goes up, but our income doesn’t,” said Zhiqin Zheng with the Committee Against Asian American Violence. “The R.G.B. only cares about landlords making more money. But what about us as tenants?”

While a marching band played, the protesters slowly made their way into the Great Hall to jeer the board during the hearing.

As The Times reported, the board issued a preliminary vote to raise the rents of stabilized apartments by 1.75 percent to 4 percent for one-year leases, and 3.5 percent to 6.75 percent for two-year leases (the hikes are similar to those of last year).

The protest at Cooper Union and the march to Wall Street followed an afternoon of citywide marches and demonstrations, including a few in the East Village that The Local reported on throughout the course of the day.

The march to Wall Street as it passed Astor Place: