My wife and I travelled from DC-land to to NYC to celebrate our 18th anniversary. We happened to be on the Brooklyn Bridge when Occupy Wall Street took ovr the bridge. We were part of a bike tour that happened to be touring Brooklyn and were on our way back when a cop came by and told us to get off our bikes and walk them. That seemed odd, but what do we know, we're from out of town.
A few minutes later we saw the protesters down below taking over the car-traffic lanes. A few more minutes later, and the rest of the protesters came marching in. It quickly became apparent that there was no way we could walk our bikes the other way, and we had to wait until the crowd dispersed.
I've participated in a few protests in DC, mostly as a bystander living in the area than a true believer. The crowd today seemed much like the people I've seen in other protests. I wonder how many of them have been truly occupying Wall Street the last two weeks. They all seemed pretty upbeat and in a good mood.
A few of the protesters exhorted us to "join us." I shouted back, "I'm on a tour! This isn't my bike. I think the bike store running the tour would have been a bit miffed if I had decided to turn around and join the group while riding their bike.
Earlier in the day I had read a snarky article by the New York Times that belittled the protesters as a bunch of "whatever dudes" that had no clear purpose. I suggested to my wife that we go down to Wall Street to see what was going on. The protest saved us the bother to see what was going on.
It's nearly impossible to gague a protest's size, enthusiasm, and effectiveness without an army of people on the ground talking to the protesters and gauging their enthusiasm. The group seemed pretty strong this afternoon. I really hope that the group has leaders that act responsibly and don't squander their enthusiasm and don't lead them into doing tasks that become senseless and pointless. I'll never forget the DC anti-World Trade protests where five or six young people duct-taped their wrists together and "blocked" an intersection that had already been blocked by police. Those poor kids sweated in the hot sun for hours to absolutely no good end at all. I saw them in pain and felt sorry for them. I was about to take a picture when a guy chided me and told me to be more respectful. I was too big of a wuss back then to say back, oh yeah, how respectful are you of these idealistic kids by making them suffer for no good reason?
The Brooklyn Bridge protest seemed to me like a really good use of protesters' enthusiasm and energy. I hope the protest movement's leaders continue to show sound judgement.