Grudge match after Saturday blowout
The march Wednesday may have been a more mainstream, with traditional political groups joining the ad hoc-ish "99%," but it was also the first opportunity protesters and police had to meet in large numbers since Saturday, when more than 700 were arrested for marching in the streets across the Brooklyn Bridge, rather than staying on sidewalks and pathways where police would leave them alone and where organizers tried to keep them.
OccupyWallStreet spokespeople charged that the arrests were as much a setup by police as offense by marchers.
Rather than prodding marchers back aggressively when they wandered off legal walkways
violating police warnings to remain on walkways, which led to the mass arrests.
Police deny they did anything to draw the protesters offsides. The march Saturday was simply rowdier and more disruptive than previous events, police spokesmen said.
The character of each march or event is a little different, because only a small core of protesters stays on site all the time. For special events, like Saturday's march, or Wednesday's, people crowd in to participate, often having traveled from several states away to participate. Newcomers almost never understanding the delicate balance organizers and police negotiate each day between the desire of protesters to remain and desire of police to keep the streets clear or arrest anyone who disrupts them.
Keeping protesters from tying up traffic or becoming a danger to themselves or others in the road has been a primary excuse for police to intervene in marches, speeches and other gatherings during the two weeks of the protest.
Wednesday's minor violence and major chaos wasn't part of the scheduled, organized, union-supported march. It was ad hoc idiocy – hijinks more like game-day rowdiness at a big football school than the more orderly events OccupyWallStreet has been scripting to try to walk the line between enough disorder to get noticed but not enough to get everyone arrested.
It's a narrow line in Manhattan, but perhaps a bit thicker in some of the other cities the movement has gained some momentum – Boston, Washington and elsewhere.