NYPD vs. Occupy Wall Street protesters

Last night, while getting ready for bed at 2am, I heard that the NYPD was raiding Zuccotti Park and kicking out all the Occupy Wall Street protesters — so I headed down there. This was as close as I managed to get . . .

. . . which of course wasn’t close at all. Lower Manhattan was like a military zone. There were cops in riot gear everywhere, and the area surrounding the park was completely blocked.

For the record, I support the Occupy Wall Street movement — it’s kind of hard not to — but I’m not an active participant. I’d only been down to Zuccotti Park twice since the whole thing started, and even then, my main goal for being there was simply to check out the scene.

Anyway, by the time I got there last night, things were relatively calm. Despite all the riot gear and barricades and hundreds of chanting protesters, the police seemed relaxed — a little bit too relaxed:

Yeah, great time to read a text from your best friend.

Now, as I said a moment ago, I wasn’t really there to participate, but when a NYC garbage truck (containing the bulldozed remnants of Zuccotti Park) approached the other side of the barricade and everyone around me started shouting and linking arms, I had no choice but to join them. The plan was to form a human barricade and prevent the truck from getting through. And it worked. Presumably, the truck ended up reaching its destination, but while it was held up and being forced to turn around, the message was delivered: “SCREW YOU!!!”

I won’t lie. It was scary to be staring down a hundred cops in riot gear while a 20-ton garbage truck crept toward me, but whatever. I was there, so I held my ground with everyone else and hoped that I wouldn’t get (a) run over or (b) arrested.

Five minutes after the truck turned around, I found a great place to stand and watch the action: from the top of a phone booth. Check out the view:

Yes, those are civilians standing and sitting on top of a police car. Things were starting to get a bit out of hand, and I could tell that something big was about to go down. I just hoped that in the process of documenting the action, I wouldn’t get hit with a rubber bullet.

Here’s another photo that I took from the top of the phone booth:

At around 5am, a police lieutenant grabbed a megaphone and announced that everyone in the street had to move to the sidewalk, or else they’d be arrested. Hardly anyone budged, and it was clear that there was about to be a major confrontation. This was the result:

It felt really weird to be up there, looking down at the mayhem. On one hand, I felt extremely close and connected to it, but on the other hand, I felt safe and protected and partially removed from the whole thing. I would’ve kept filming, but as you can see (if you watch the video right up until the end), one of the cops was yelling at people to get down. As soon as I heard that, I turned my camera off, and with the help of some people standing near the phone booth, I quickly climbed down. (For a moment, it was like I was crowd-surfing.) It’s a good thing I moved so fast because ten seconds after I got down, some other guy who was standing right near me on another elevated platform got yanked off by the cops and dragged into the street to be arrested. TEN SECONDS!!! Maybe even less. I mean, by the time my feet touched the pavement, this other guy was getting hauled off. I’ve never been arrested or even gotten a speeding ticket, so this was a pretty big deal for me. (Getting ejected four times from Shea Stadium in the 1990s and being threatened with trespassing if I ever returned is probably the worst I’ve ever gotten in trouble.)

After the street was cleared, the police threatened to arrest us if we didn’t clear the sidewalk:

I’m no constitutional lawyer, so I might be missing something, but it seemed that our Right to Assemble was completely violated by the NYPD. Can anyone shed some light on this? And did I mention that there were cops EVERYWHERE?

Some of the cops had serious attitude. One cop in particular was exceptionally rude to people who said anything to him. People obviously weren’t happy about how they’d been treated, and whenever anyone complained or cited the constitution or whatever, the cop would simply say, “Thank you. Good night. Go home.”

The crowd eventually dispersed, and by the time the sun came up, there was a general assembly taking place several blocks away at Foley Square:

Of course there were a ton of cops (and news vans):

The topic of the assembly could be summed up as follows:


It would’ve been great to stay and be a part of it, but it was 7am, and I was about to collapse, so I headed home.

Not really sure what to make of all this Occupy Wall Street stuff. I’ve never been terribly interested with politics, but I’m VERY curious to see how this is going to play out . . .


  1. Nicholas

    FIRST COMMENT! Sorry for not commentig in a while… when i got a new computer, it didn’t trust wordpress or something like that, so it wouldn’t let me comment on your posts…. got it fixed! So… yeah… oh, yah, um i got two third place votes for Junior Ballhawk of the Year on mygameballs.com…. that really suprisised me… And congrats on getting the ballhawk of the year… i wasn’t suprised at all… ok enough rambling for me now… oh, and this is a really cool post. I watched the video while walking to school today… overall, cool post

  2. Skim

    SECOND COMMENT! I’m really not into politics at all, but I came in 2nd in my school spelling bee today!

  3. Milo Krimstein

    I went to Occupy Chicago (obviously not as cool as wall street) and I got to hit drums and since there were only about 100 people there i was interviewed. I also got to meet Lupe Fiasco, who was there for some reason.

  4. connor

    I went over to occupy oakland the other day (which they just removed). Interesting scene with many questionable smells. @ milo, meeting lupe fiasco is pretty cool. And Zack: do you have a detailed account somewhere on how/why you were ejected from Shea in the 90’s? I would love to hear about that.

  5. Puckcollector

    Well, the second amendment clearly says that we have the right to “peacfully” assemble. Once you are not peaceful, you lose the right to assemble.

    We talked about this matter in my AP Gov calss today and once a group of assemblers begin to violate other laws, they can be forced to leave an area. The example we looked at was day laborerers. You cannot kick them out from standing somewhere simply because you don not want them there, but if they do something such as litter, you can tell them to leave. Also, the courts have ruled that shutting down a public park at night is acceptable becuase it is a reasonable restriction. Also, if there are hundreds of people in the street at two a.m., there are probably noise ordinances that are being violated in the process, and the protestors can be told to leave if they are distrubing the peace by keeping residents up with their noise. Finally for large assemblies, courts have upheld decisions by cities to reguire a permit for a large assembly.

    If you want to read more:

  6. Jared

    Real interesting post Zack! Though I am not a huge follower of politics the Occupy group from my home state of Vermont has been in the news a lot recently. A member was shot in a tent while tenting in City Park. It is still being investigated but they say suicide, still scary. Anyways the whole thing has promomted my interest in Occupy. Really cool to see a another link in the story, thanks for sharing.

  7. Father Puck

    You lose me on this one. I’ve got no brief for many of the “wizards” on Wall Street, but a bunch of spoiled rich kids, hoodlums, and anarchists are not what created the wealth that allows you frolic freely in ballparks across America.

  8. Chasicle

    I walked by Occupy Riverside today, which was about 20 people who seemed to mostly be bums and hippies. I both support and don’t support this movement. Are these CEO wallstreet types making too much? Maybe. Who am I to say? I don’t own stock in these companies and I doubt any of these people protesting do either. It’s none of their business what the stockholders and board of directors decide what the CEO’s compensation will be. These people need to stop whining and go out and work their butts off and not expect everything to be handed to them. The ENTITLEMENT they are showing is easily worse than what they claim to be protesting.

  9. joe

    Shame on you, Father Puck. What “wealth” Zack commandeers is really none of your fucking business– unless you know more about it than he knows.

  10. joe

    (and if that is the case, Father Puck, then you would also know that merely broaching the subject would be gauche)

  11. Donny in Houston

    PuckCollector is right on point with this one. My guess is that this has also been the topic of conversation with his pops at one time or another. While this movement started as a pure, peaceful assembly, it seems to have turned into the “experience of the moment” when a lot of people, yourself included, simply come by to see what all the fuss is about and end up staying for the experience. My main question is this: If these “protestors” had jobs that they had to actually go to instead of yelling and writing on themselves in a park all day and all week, would they have less to complain about?

  12. Donny in Houston

    Father Puck, I agree totally. It seems some have missed the point you were trying to make, which was at least partly that the “wealth of Wall Street” is what built most ballparks and is what powers professional sports today. I don’t think pointing that out is any more gauche that dropping an F Bomb on a blog frequented by a lot of young kids, but it is a heck of a lot less sanctimonious.

  13. Father Puck

    Joe, notwithstanding your use of “gauche,” your colorful use of the English language does more to demonstrate my point than anyhting else i could say or write. (Donny you picked this up two second before me–thanks).

  14. Father Puck

    Oh and Puck Collector, ther First Amendment protects the right to peaceably assemble; the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms.

  15. ConLawJunkie

    The First Amendment may give the right to peaceably assemble, but it does not give the right to squat in a park, which is what these protesters have been doing for two months. The camp that was set up in Zuccotti Park was a safety and health crisis waiting to happen, and I’m glad to see that the city finally did something about it. Mayor Bloomberg was absolutely right when he stated that these protesters are now going “to have to occupy the space with the power of their ideas,” which is what the whole thing should have been about in the first place. The OWS people started getting more concerned with maintaining their camp than with setting a political agenda and “petitioning the government for a redress of grievances” (also a First Amendment right).

    For the record, the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    The important part here is the placement of the commas and semicolons, because it alters the meaning slightly. There are only three sections to the Amendment, not five as commonly thought: the establishment and free exercise of religion, the freedom of speech and press, and the right to assembly peacefully in order to petition the government. When these Occupy camps became more about staging an extended sit-in with no formal political petition to the government, they no longer held the same manner of protection with the First Amendment.

  16. Peanuts Envy

    I don’t really believe that corporate America is going to re-think their business strategies based on a few thousand unemployed/unemployable placard wavers. I am not at all certain that if you asked any random 10 protesters what they protesting that any 2 of them would have the same answer. At the Occupy Cincinnati rally, the local news asked one earnest young hipster what exactly he was protesting against. His response was “I’m tired of these big companies making a profit at the expense of the American consumer.” Well, shucks, I guess capitalism is just a bit too “mainstream” for him. My guess is that by now, he’s back to his job as a barista at the local organic non-profit coffee shop, wearing an ironic tee shirt and griping about the lack of opportunities for free-lance video game designers.

  17. Steve

    “it’s kind of hard to not support it”. Please, those people have no agenda! The majority of the people out there don’t even know what they’re protesting! Plus, the protests have become violent and unsanitary.

  18. Ben

    @ Peanuts Envy – I totally agrre with this: “I am not at all certain that if you asked any random 10 protesters what they protesting that any 2 of them would have the same answer.” CNN profiled 10 protesters at quite a few Occupy protests across the country and a few international. Photo, name, age, job/unemployed, and why they were protesting. Most of the reasons for protesting were vague and all over the place – to show their support (didn’t say for what), for the environment, world peace, etc. They didn’t seem to have a sense of direction rather than just hanging out camping in a park enjoying each others’ company and rallying against “the man”. I’ll see if I can find a link to the piece.

  19. Steve

    Unlike the Occupiers, the Tea Party actually influenced elections and won some seats in the House.
    The most current numbers show the support of the Occupiers is in a sharp decline.

  20. Steve

    For that posted picture to call the Tea Party “The racists” is ridiculous. Because they are already paying the highest taxes, and don’t agree with the government’s irresponsible spending and sky-high taxes, that makes them “racist”?

  21. Puckcollector

    Okay, lets not waste our time here arguing the merits of the movement. Everyone has their own opinion and I don’t think it’s going to be changed by anything said here. I just simply wanted to point out that the right to assemble wasn’t violated.

  22. Zack Hample

    Listen. I’m not saying that the “Occupy” movement is perfect. It has flaws. But the fact is that there’s a *tremendous* amount of financial corruption/inequality in this country. And that should change.

  23. Russell

    This just goes to show that you are just one of those sheep you railed against when you were told to give your home run ball to a kid. You have no idea what you are protesting against or why. This is the greatest example of everything that is wrong with the Occupy movement, people that have no idea what they are protesting against showing up because they are bored.

  24. ste7888

    Since most are commenting on the amendment rights, i’ll chime in on the question about the police and their “attitudes.” They pretty much just have a job to do, and knowing this part from experience, if they let their guard down or express any sentiment or interest in what’s going on in opposition to their job, it would get way out of hand on both ends. When you’re dealing with folks that have a strongly oppositional stand and you give them just a hint of reinforcement, they are going to run with it and take advantage of it. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. And in a mob situation that can be dangerous.

  25. Zack Hample

    Yeah, that makes sense, but the cop I mentioned here was being an all-out dick. Reading back over my own entry, I see that I didn’t even begin to convey his dick-ness. He was going out of his way to be as rude an dismissive and condescending as possible — a real power trip that was nasty and unprofessional and unnecessary.

  26. Warren Laufer

    Been occupying Cal (UC Berkeley) this week. Occupy Oakland came over and things got crazy…we were just trying to get tuition hikes to slow down… oh well

  27. joe

    Zack, i have to say i’m delighted to see your interest turn to political/social concerns, and i appreciate your observations.

  28. Ricky

    These people are all idiots. I’m shocked you joined them Zack. You actually have a job and don’t smell. LOL

  29. joe (the foulmouthed one)

    i’ve noticed that a lot of people happen to be out of work these days, Ricky, many of them not by choice. Are you saying they are all idiots? Many of them are also out of housing, and that makes taking a shower a bit difficult. i can’t blame them for not smelling quite as fresh as a Wall Street Banker/Trader. . .
    Come to think of it, i’ve known many people who have jobs and houses and stink anyway– hell, i’m one of them (ask Zack). i have even known Zack to stink up a room like nobody’s business (can you say, “cantaloupe”. . . ?).
    Honestly, i don’t understand how it is that many of you can claim to be mystified in regard to the protesters’ message. Please don’t pretend you don’t understand that they have been peaceably assembling for months, airing their grievance, which is: the obscene and rising inequity of our system, which has rewarded or otherwise insulated those few whose actions brought the world economy to near collapse, and left the rest of us (many homeless, many unemployed, some smelly) to pay the penalty (“Occupy Wall Street, the internationally acknowledged symbol of opposition to corporate avarice. . . “).
    Have you really not heard of the “99%”? Do you not understand that the 99% are protesting the failure of a system that rewards the other/”upper” 1% as handsomely as it does, at the expense of the rest of u.s.? If you still don’t understand this, you need to listen, and, apparently, the protesters need to stay and turn up the volume– clearly, the government hasn’t yet redressed the grievance.
    The First Amendment isn’t subject to a schedule, and it’s NOT about convenience, comfort, or political cover.

  30. joe (the foulmouthed one)

    (short version: Feel free to disagree with OWS, but don’t feign ignorance in regard to its message. Alternatively, if you haven’t heard its message, how can you legitimately disagree?)

  31. G1zm0

    Me and some random person were actually talking about this earlier today while we were waiting for a bus. i randomly brought up the topic of the unmarked police cars and she was mentioning how she noticed a lot of cops in the area that arent usually there and brought up the OWS movement. I had plum forgot about it, but she started getting into about how it was all over the news and everything.

    Here’s my question for you, and bear in mind this is more to be humorous than anything else, but do you think cops get paid on comission for each person they arrest? Think about it – each person arrested ie must pay $10,000 bail or something like that and the arresting officer(s) get a cut of that? Maybe that’s how the NYPD really runs – paid to arrest and ticket people so the NYPD can make money?

    Just some random thought :/


  32. Donny in Houston

    If the protests remained peaceful and those there were truly there to protest, then more power to them. I served and fought for this country so people could have the freedom to do such things, even if I didn’t agree with their stance. That being said, these protests are no longer peaceful, are not law abiding, and a good percentage of the “protestors” are either there for the experience of being there, have nothing better to do, or are paid placard holders (see The Lotion Man for a good example). Further, they are a health hazard.

    Hate capitalism all you want, but it’s the foundation that has built this country into one of the greatest empires in human history. The drive for individual success has been the force behind more innovation than communism, even in its purest form, could ever hope to match. (I’m not saying that the protestors are communists, just using it as contrast.) As such, those who take the risks, create the ideas, and put themselves out there are usually the ones who reap the most profits. Those who are worker bees, not so much. Our nation rewards hard work, it always has. On the other hand, those who are content to be where they are can continue to do so. If you start with nothing, you can still attain your goals. If you don’t believe that, then you need to have a sit down with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and even President Obama. These folks all started out regular joes and turned hard work into success. Anyone who sits by and complains that they have no means to succeed or blames their plight on outside sources just doesn’t want it as much as the next guy.

    I realized at age 30 that I didn’t want to be stuck with my paycheck trying to raise three kids, put them through college and still hope that my wife and I could retire someday. So I went to law school. It was hard. I worked from 7am to 5pm, then went to class from 5:30 to 9:15 every night for four years. I took out student loans and sacrificed a lot of sleep. I didn’t expect the government, my parents, or some fat cat corporate millionaire to just hand it to me. If I wanted to do something to better my situation I had to be proactive. Now I own my own firm and am reaping the benefits of better pay, choosing my own hours, and the freedom that comes from being self employed. I AM THE 99%.

  33. hooksfan

    I understand the message that the protestors are trying to get across but their message gets lost with the violence inside and outside their camps. Let’s see how some of them have treated women that have gotten raped, they seem to show more sympathy for the attacker than the victim (they don’t want the police to get involved). If this was Zack’s girlfriend how would he want it to be handled?

    Donny in Houston is right. We come into this world with nothing. It’s up to you what you do with it. Just think that less than 10 years ago I had over $40,000 in credit card debt. I didn’t blame anyone else for that problem. It was a problem which I created and that I would have to take care of myself and not blame it on someone else. I took care of that debt, finished off my bachelor’s degree, bought a house along with two new cars. You have to set priorities in your life and than set out to achieve them. Steve Jobs provides a very good example of what a 99%er can do. I am the 99% and those protestors will never get my support.

  34. kslo69

    I’m not going to toss gasoline on this fire, but to point out the ridiculousness of comparing how big business has been screwing the average Joe for the last 100 years to Zack snagging baseballs. (I assume puckcollector was speaking in jest.) Russell, Zack is a single individual showing tenacity and determination. The world wide web of mega corporations, and the 1% of the population that controls them collude and bribe (not to mention rape and kill) to maintain their power and control over the rest of the people on this planet, setting up puppet governments and propagating a culture of corruption and greed that is poisoning the idea of democracy in America and making us look like blind hypocrites to the rest of the world. I suppose that if Zack had a secret meeting with Selig, and arranged to have a huge tarp set up over any stadium that he visited that would funnel all balls directly to his seat and in to a huge mailbag provided for him by MLB, and to have the security force collect all balls handed out by players and delivered to him, AND to have the umpires deliver all foul balls directly to him, ejecting anyone who protested this system, your analogy might hold water. As it is, it makes you sound like a simpleton. (So much for my opening statement.) Also, just because there are many diverging reasons and circumstances that may inspire people to get involved in these protests, (even at the fence-sitting, documentation level… ;-P) does not devalue the core inspiration. That people feel abused and manipulated, and feel the need to collectively express their frustration is vitally important and wholly American, especially in the face of all the dis-information, paranoia, propaganda and “faux” news that is spoon fed to Americans daily, which is right in line with FatherPuck and his “enjoy your gruel” mentality. All you Torry sympathizers can get back to your 80 hr. work week, stick your heads back in the sand, turn off your brains and let the sound-byte express your opinion for you. Last comment?

  35. hooksfan

    From kslo69 “That people feel abused and manipulated, and feel the need to collectively express their frustration is vitally important and wholly American, especially in the face of all the dis-information, paranoia, propaganda and “faux” news that is spoon fed to Americans daily..”

    The citizens of the U.S. have a right to freedom to speech that I have no problem with. It would be safe to say that a few posters on this website have served in the military to give them and you that right. My problem is their losing their message with not only how they treat those outside of Wall Street and than you have those abuses within their organization. You have multiple instances of rape and the lack of compassion towards the women should be appalling. Or how about the school teacher in California who called for kicking the Jews out of this country…her statement before that was they have been kicked out of 100 or so other countries and it needs to be done here.

  36. Mike

    I find it mildly ironic that you live in Manhattan, don’t work, and yet are protesting the 1%. You had the opportunity to travel the country this summer, collecting baseballs. We get it, your politics, when you do post them, tend to lean to the left. I come here to read about your adventures in baseball. Not you being a pundit.

  37. Zack Hample

    Dear Mike (and everyone else):
    My blog’s headline clearly states at the top, ” . . .see what else he’s been up to.” It’s not baseball season. This is what I’ve been up to. If you don’t like it, then don’t read my blog. It’s that simple. And by the way, I do work. It was my hard work for the last few years that enabled me to take time off this season and live every baseball fan’s wet dream. Happy Thanksgiving.

  38. Antonio

    Thank you for taking a stand on this Zack. I kinda stopped frequenting your blog because it felt like there were more important things to spend my time on than someone else’s baseball fan escapades, but I’m really glad to see you having the courage to post what you have. We’re all just a couple of turns of events away from being the kind of people who directly experience the disparity that the people with “no agenda” are just generally against.

    Why can’t the agenda just be that we should be good to each other, and get rid of hate in our hearts at all cost, whether it is hate for Wall Streeters or our fellow man (showered or unshowered though he may be?) Seems like that agenda may be to Christian or kind for some people. That’s a shame. But thank you for being courageous enough not to get shouted down by your commenters, and thank you for drawing attention to these issues. I know you have a lot of young kids who look up to you and if Zack Hample thinks there’s a problem with the way protestors are being treated, my hope is some young baseball fans out there will start to read up about it too. In this way we may truly, gradually, change things.

    Also #occupybattingpractice was gold. Nice work @PuckCollector

  39. Zack Hample

    Thanks for reading this entry . . . and appreciating it. I knew that it was going to piss off some people. That wasn’t my goal, of course. I figured it was an inevitable consequence of stating my position on a controversial topic, so it’s nice to know that you (and others) stand behind me.

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