Monday, October 17, 2011

What happened in Time Square on Oct 15 #ows #o15

I was there.

I didn't have any special vantage point.

Mostly I was in the "TKTS" triangle where people go to buy discount tickets for Broadway plays; it is in the shape of a wedge, and is located between 46th and 47th Streets, between 7th Avenue and Broadway.

Although there were probably 40,000 or 50,000 people in the area, media reports that the protest "took over Times Square" are not correct.  There were many tourists, theater-goers, and other regular Times Square-type visitors, and the main body of marchers never was allowed to even enter Times Square.

This is what I saw:

When I arrived, at around 5:00 p.m., there was an amiable crowd of people in the TKTS triangle park We were awaiting the marchers who were wending their way uptown on 6th Avenue.

A band, and numerous street performers, some on stilts, began entertaining, people were dancing, tapping their toes, etc.

When the marchers arrived, via 46th Street, at 7th Avenue, they were met by metal police barricades, and were unable to cross, and did not attempt to cross, 7th Avenue, even when the crossing light was green.

They were chanting, and shouting, but not using any force or resistance of any kind.

Some people in the triangle shouted "let them cross" or "let them across".

Although the marchers were exactly where the police had directed them to be -- behind the barricade on 46th Street -- suddenly a swarm of police appeared, seemingly from nowhere. White uniforms, blue uniforms, helmeted riot troops, numerous officers -- some in riot gear, some not -- carrying large sheathes of plastic handcuffs, some police officers wearing suits and ties, and a number of whiteshirted helmeted policemen on horseback.

For no reason, about a hundred cops swarmed past the barricade, and started arresting the marchers, some of them women, dragging them out on to Seventh Avenue, and dragging them to the ground to administer the plastic handcuffs, although none of the people were resisting, and none needed to be dragged to the ground for any reason other than purposeful humiliation.

Police paddy wagons, and large rolls of orange plastic kettling fences, were in evidence.

The police on horseback were somehow goading the horses to move about, in a tense manner, and some of  the mounted police charged the horses on to 46th Street, where the demonstrators were standing.

Medics appeared on the scene.

A column of police in riot gear marched north on 7th Avenue, where I was standing, and then stopped and faced ME, acting as though they were about to conduct a raid and arrest us when given the signal. They were all heavily armed, and had billy clubs and plastic handcuffs, and helmets with face guards.

All we had been doing was standing, and talking, and taking pictures, and on occasions celebrating, and on occasions shouting... all in a public place, and all quite legal.

I tried to ask different riot cops whether they were of the view that there was anything illegal about what we were doing, and all of them refused to answer my question.

Eventually, after the police had abused and arrested a large number of people from among the peaceful marchers behind the 46th Street barricade, the activity began to subside.

As I walked to the subway, at around 7:30 pm, I noticed that a very large portion of 47th Street had been closed and was designated as "Pen 6", indicating to me that the police had set up at least 6 "pens" and were planning on making mass arrests.

The police action was totally uncalled for and unprovoked. The only people who "took over" Times Square were the police. Had they not been there, things would have gone smoothly. The police were the ones who shut down, and interfered with the traffic, on 7th Avenue. Everyone else I saw was on sidewalks, in public squares, or in pedestrian plazas, except for the marchers who were on 46th Street where the police had directed them to go.

Any injuries were caused by illegal police action and nothing else.

PS Filmmaker Michael Moore was directly across the street from me on 7th Avenue. I hope he got some good footage, because mine... is bad, really bad.

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