The following is a report from Bronx Greens Chair Tony Gronowicz on his experience at Occupy Wall Street during the defense of the site in the face of police eviction.
On the evening of October 13, I found on my computer many emails from different groups, including the AFL-CIO, summoning people to come and defend the Occupation Wall Street site from a 7 AM police eviction order. So I went.
I arrived on the scene shortly before 5 AM. I chatted with Brooklyn Green Gary Davidson; Laurie Wen. Executive Director of PNHP-NY Metro; and a student videographer from BMCC. As I wandered through the site, the crowd continued to swell. There was apprehension, but little fear. I could feel a sense of determination to stick together and not leave the area.
I went to the northeast corner of Zuccotti Park while people streamed down the west side of Broadway, some in union shirts and caps. Shortly before 6 AM, I encountered Jack Baldwin, and Jonathan Jetter who runs his own film studio. Jetter said he was “there on behalf of my friends who are in dead-end jobs and his parents who are afraid to retire.” At 6:15, I saw Steve Scher, and ten minutes later, a few people from my union, the PSC, including Barbara Bowen, our union president; and Steve Bloom.
I talked to a teamster who had taken the day off to attend the protests. I told him that the Green Party had run a teamster for Governor who regained our ballot status; I gave him our web site information.
I crossed the street to talk to a construction worker who said that he was working for J.P. Morgan Chase, the day it took over the bankrupt Bear Stearns. The executives “were throwing darts across the streets” aimed at the offices they coveted. They were so happy that they gave him and his fellow workers the day off at full pay. He then talked about Milton William Cooper and how he was killed for detailing government conspiracies.
Next was Ted from Wisconsin, a veteran of a 1968 Seattle strike, who had spent two weeks camped out in the state house in Wisconsin during the January encampment there. He had come to New York City with his wife and another couple to visit Occupy Wall Street.
Next I ran into Jim Perlstein, chair of my union’s Solidarity Committee.
At this point, the crowd had completely filled the square and the sidewalk. The police were clearly caught off guard by the vast number of protestors. Great roars of jubilation went up from the crowd when it was announced that the evacuation order had been cancelled.
It was clear to me that the reason for the cancellation was the size of the crowd, numbering in the thousands; and that any police attack would tear apart the downtown area.
Then I joined a breakaway group of several hundred who marched up Broadway past the Fulton Street Station rehabilitation. I heard a loud horn and looked up at a giant crane whose operator was honking in unison with our chants. As we raised clenched fist power-to-the-people salutes, the workers high up on the site responded in kind. It was a glorious moment. Unlike the Sixties, students and workers are united.
I ran ahead of the march to City Hall where I saw plainclothes and other officers scrambling to close the gates to City Hall. Further up near the R train entrance, I saw plainclothes’ officers huffing and puffing diagonally across Broadway to meet the crowd. They were clearly unprepared for this move by a battalion of the Occupation Wall Street army.
We marched up Chambers and around the corner where I took the subway, tired but clearly exhilarated by the four hours I spent that early morning.