Occupy Wall Street Vows to Shut Stock Exchange, Subways on Day of Action
By DNAinfo Staff on November 16, 2011 3:34pm |
By Julie Shapiro, Jill Colvin and Adam Nichols
LOWER MANHATTAN — They've tried occupying Wall Street, now they plan to close it down.
Fresh from their eviction from Zuccotti Park, the Occupy Wall Street "99 percenters" are commemorating the two-month mark since the birth of their movement with a day of action — starting with an attempt to shut down the New York Stock Exchange.
Details of how they intend to do that are vague, but sources within the protest said it will involve an attempt to shut down service at the Fulton Street subway hub and may also involve attempts to block traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.
City officials said they are preparing for "tens of thousands" of protesters in what they believe could be the largest showing of public disobedience in recent memory. Sources told DNAinfo that protesters can expect a police presence akin to New Year's Eve in Times Square.
"We're going to have a huge turnout of cops," a high-level police official told DNAinfo. The NYPD was already pulling in cops off their normal shifts to be ready for first thing in the morning.
Police barricades were already set up Wednesday night on Wall Street from Broadway to Nassau Street in anticipation of Thursday morning's events.
"The protesters are calling for a major event aimed at disrupting many parts of the city," Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told reporters Wednesday afternoon at a press conference called in anticipation of the events.
The mayor's office has been coordinating with the NYPD and MTA to prepare for a possible stock exchange and subway shutdown.
"Our plan is to be prepared," said Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, who noted that last year police responded to more than 600 protest events south of 59th street alone. "Our goal is to ensure this city continues to run."
Officials declined to comment on specific tactics that will be used to minimize impact.
Occupy Wall Street's official website was asking protesters to gather at Zuccotti Park at 7 a.m., "before the ring of the Trading Floor Bell, to prepare to confront Wall Street."
Then at 3 p.m., they plan to "occupy" the subways and take their message to commuters, gathering at stations on 125th Street, at Union Square and at 23rd Street/Eighth Avenue, as well as hubs in the other boroughs.
At 5 p.m., they plan to gather at Foley Square, linking up with unions and other groups for a gathering organizers claim will be "tens of thousands of people" strong. They will then march to City Hall and encircle it, before marching over the Brooklyn Bridge, according to an email sent by Occupy Wall Street organizers.
Several unions and community groups are expected to show up in force, including the United Federation of Teachers, Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, along with NY Communities for Change, Strong Economy for All and the Working Families Party.
Also among them will be Washington Heights City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was arrested and allegedly beaten by police Tuesday morning as cops evicted protesters from Zuccotti Park.
"As a community and as a city, we are all going to be coming to downtown Manhattan tomorrow, Nov. 17, to show that we are the 99 percent," he said in a statement.
City officials warned protesters that, while they will be allowed to express their free speech rights, they will not be permitted to break the law.
"The city's message to anyone is you can protest and express your free speech, but you can't break the law," Wolfson said.
Some Downtown business owners worried the protest would disrupt their sales and possibly even endanger their employees.
Doug Smith, owner of the World Trade Art Gallery and framing shop on Trinity Place, said he told a female employee, a mother of two, that she could stay home on Thursday if she felt unsafe. Smith previously spent more than $1,000 on a security buzzer after protesters flooded his store and bothered customers.
"It's put the community on edge," Smith said of the protesters' plans for Thursday. "As far as I can tell, they can't control their own group."
Marc Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe on Wall Street, who said earlier this month that the police barricades outside his restaurant forced him to lay off 21 workers, said he, too, was concerned about Thursday's demonstration.
"There is no end in sight at this point with the barricades and siege mentality down here," Epstein said. "There goes our foot traffic. There goes our business."
When Occupy Wall Street first marched on Wall Street on Mon., Sept. 19, the NYPD shut down nearby subway stations and heavily curtailed pedestrian access to the entire area.
While officials have not yet added up the cost of Tuesday morning's raid, they estimated the protest has cost the city about $3 million a month in police overtime.
Thursday's will be Occupy Wall Street's first organized action since Tuesday's eviction. The protesters were later allowed back in, but without tents and sleeping material.