Updated 10:25 AM
Well, it appears Occupy Wall Street’s brief "truce" with the NYPD has ended. Last night, the NYPD arrested five OWS protesters (though the National Lawyers Guild puts the figure at twelve) for allegedly blocking the entrance of the New York Stock Exchange where about 100 activists have been sleeping throughout the week.
Protesters had been citing a court ruling from 2000 that defends their right to remain on public sidewalks as a form of a political protest, but that held no weight with the police.
"Sitting or lying down on the sidewalk is not permitted," a captain announced, the New York Times reports. "Anyone who is sitting or lying down must now get up or be subject to arrest. Also, it is unlawful to leave moveable property on the sidewalk." (photo by @mollyknefel)
There were several instances of violence throughout the night, according to reporters. The Times‘s Colin Moynihan wrote about a hostile confrontation between a protester and an officer:
The first arrest took place on the east side of the street, just before 8 a.m., when an officer grabbed a large piece of cardboard from a man.
“That’s my cardboard,” the man said, trying to grab it back.
“You’re going to resist?” the officer said before arresting him. A few feet away, officers arrested a woman sitting on a curb.
Moments later, an officer placed a video camera close to the face of a man walking on Nassau Street. The man swung a bag toward the lens and the officer threw a punch at the man and then arrested him. A fourth arrest took place on Wall Street.
One of the other protesters was arrested for "making excessive noise." Ironically, it seems several residents of the neighborhood, who came down to the protest to complain about the noise, ended up getting into screaming matches with the activists themselves.
In at least one case, a resident attacked an activist but was not arrested for the assault. (photo by @515LM)
The Village Voice‘s Nick Pinto witnessed the arrests:
"A very irritated resident charges out of his apartment: ‘Will you shut up?’ cops intercept and try to settle him down," Pinto tweeted last night.
"Last flurry of arrests provoked when an occupier called a resident a cunt, another [resident] came through the police to strangle #OWS-er," he wrote, adding later, "Police arrested the stranglee, but let the strangler go."
New York Magazine‘s Joe Coscarelli pondered the NYPD’s motives for the bust, considering protesters have been gathered in front of the NYSE all week without incident. (photo by @mollyknefel)
Controlling the narrative seems important for the city in the wake of last fall’s turbulent clearing of Zuccotti Park: Stamping out this new trend before it grows — and gains widespread media attention — is ideal, lest an Occupy Wall Street renaissance seem possible to not just the protesters, but to the public. For the city, fighting a few demonstrators in court might be preferable to facing growing numbers of them on the streets again.
Meanwhile, in honor of Tax Day, Occupy Wall Street today has a series of events scheduled to highlight New York’s largest tax dodgers, and biggest stocks on the NYSE, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, GE, Bain Capital, JP Morgan Chase and Verizon.
The action, organized in part by United NY, begins at 11 a.m. in front of the James A. Farley Post Office, before moving to 725 5th Avenue, where Donald Trump is hosting Ann Romney for her birthday. According to a release, "A giant inflated mitt will be there to represent Romney, and the Tax Dodgers will hit giant inflated baseballs through the different loopholes."
Update: Gothamist posted the following videos of OWSers chanting and some of the subsequent arrests