Occupy Wall Street protesters poured into New York’s financial district today to mark the first anniversary of the movement, but their presence was dwarfed by riot-gear-clad police, who set up metal barriers and formed human walls to pacify the demonstrators.
Hundreds of protesters scattered into Manhattan’s financial district, decked out in costumes including Uncle Pennybags and an enormous marionette Statue of Liberty. About 100 protesters have either been detained or arrested in this morning’s demonstration near the New York Stock Exchange, where several police buses were seen filled with activists.
Chanting, “All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street” and “We got sold out, banks got bailed out,” members of the Occupy movement voiced their grievances, just as business people arrived at their offices for the work day. Many protesters brought balloons and popped them at uneven intervals.
At times it seemed the mass of the protest was made up more by the media covering the event than by anyone with a political agenda. A pink-frocked “bishop” protester arrested by police was surrounded by a media scrum so dense the police came to break up the knot of humanity.
The momentum waned with the start of the business day, with businessmen in Ralph Lauren polo button-downs replacing the hand-painted shirts favored by the movement.
Demonstrators had hoped their protest today would help rekindle the movement, which spawned tent cities around the globe and became a rallying point for the “99 percent.” The goal of the protest was to create “a swirl of mobile occupations of corporate lobbies and intersections,” according to the Occupy website.
“We’re going to hold acts of non-violent civil disobedience on intersections around Wall Street to basically shut down the morning commute of these Wall Street bankers; we’re in a crisis situation, enough’s enough,” Mark Bray told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV Sunday.
Forty-two people were arrested for disorderly conduct this weekend. Saturday began three days of festivities planned to re-energize the movement, which fell into disarray after countless arrests, in-fighting and an eviction from Zuccotti Park in November.
“This weekend we will mark the occasion of our anniversary by once again showing the powers that be that we see what they are doing, and that soon enough the whole world will again as well,” a message on the Occupy website said. The scene Sunday was celebratory as members enjoyed a concert in Foley Square and attended workshops on civil disobedience in preparation for today’s march.
The “Occupy Wall Street” of today is largely not what many pictured when they set out on their crusade against the so-called “one percent.” One year ago, Zuccotti Park bloomed into a mini-utopia for protesters, where meals were provided free of charge and members voted democratically on group decisions.
Tents and sleeping bags littered the park and the sounds of drum circles and chanting protesters showed Occupy’s booming presence. Celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, Kanye West and Russell Simmons made appearances at Occupy Wall Street protests.
The encampment served as a model and inspired people to mobilize in dozens of cities in the United States and around the world.
On Oct. 1, a march across the Brooklyn Bridge led to more than 700 arrests during a clash with police, garnering worldwide attention for Occupy. In London, protesters camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, near the London Stock Exchange. In Oakland, they set up outside city hall.
The movement, which relied on protesters having a physical space to occupy, began to run out of steam after police officers clad in riot gear conducted a nighttime eviction at Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, 2011. New rules were instituted that barred protesters from bringing sleeping bags or tents back into the park.
One by one, camps around the globe, from outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt to Palm Beach have been shut down. The movement struggled to recover from the loss of the encampments. Rallies are scheduled today in more than 30 cities around the world.