Occupy Wall Street Planning Major Protests and Marches for May Day
MANHATTAN — Police are bracing for a day of action by Occupy Wall Street protesters, who have been gearing up for widespread demonstrations to coincide with May Day.
The NYPD has stepped up manpower and have massed enough gear to cut chains, bike locks, and any other possible barricades that OWS protesters might try to use to bring the city to a halt, police sources said.
Police are mainly concerned about OWS disruptions that could affect the functioning of the city, including protesters who may attempt to chain subway doors together, hang banners or try to block off bridges and streets, such as the more than a dozen protesters arrested last week after forming a human chain across Broadway.
"We're expecting a lot of unorganized illegal activity. We're going to deal with it," said Deputy Inspector Edward Winski, commanding office of the 1st Precinct in Lower Manhattan, where the movement has its roots. "If they violate the law, we're prepared to make the arrests."
The movement — which was greatly weakened when demonstrators were kicked out of Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15 — is planning a day of protests, a general strike and a march with labor unions on May 1, which is widely celebrated as a day to advocate for workers' rights.
"Tuesday is MAY DAY! Make it a day without the 99%. No work! No school! No housework! No shopping!" read a message on one of the websites affiliated with the movement.
Another site listing the day's events notes there will be "direct action and civil disobedience in Midtown," including joining 99 picket lines set up throughout the city.
OWS will also hold events at several public parks during the day, including a "family-friendly pop-up occupation" in Bryant Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. that will feature free food, workshops and public art.
College professors will host a "free university" in Madison Square Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where instructors "will bring their classes to the commons."
It is not clear exactly what the "disruptions" will entail, though the group has called for student walk-outs, joining picket lines, and for people to not go to work for the general strike.
Other tactics the movement has employed in previous protests include blocking traffic on major bridges and intersections, as well as marching through streets without a permit.
Additional reporting by Julie Shapiro