by Colin Ostomy
More than 200 Occupy Wall Street supporters returned to the scene of the proverbial crime Sunday on the Brooklyn Bridge, where 700 Americans were arrested when New York City's billionaire mayor unleashed his "private army" on the nonviolent movement during a similar march Oct. 1.
That's the term Michael Bloomberg uses to refer to the New York City Police Department, which herded those earlier protesters into a confined area of the bridge and kept them penned there for upwards of seven hours. Things went a little more peacefully Sunday, as the wealthiest elected official in U.S. history remembered to act like a neutral third party in a class-warfare dustup that threatens the predatory banks which have helped him amass a $22 billion fortune.
"We're here April Fool's Day to let people know that we are not leaving anytime soon," Ann Shirazi, 67, of Queens, told DNAinfo.
No arrests were reported among the marchers, who carried a large puppet of the bridge and signs ranging from "Angry Pacifist" to "Occupy Patriot." The procession confined itself to the pedestrian walkways.
One of the justifications for the Oct. 1 crackdown was the presence of protesters on the roadway itself.
“I didn’t make it across the bridge that day,” Shawn Brickerd, 42, told the Wall Street Journal. The electrician was arrested, but the charges against him were dismissed in November.
Sunday's march began at Zuccotti Park in the early afternoon and wound up that evening at Brooklyn’s Cadman Plaza. The restrained treatment accorded to protesters by police echoed NYPD's conduct on Friday, when protesters were allowed to rally in an area outside the New York Stock Exchange restricted to them since the Occupy movement first appeared in Zuccotti on Sept. 17.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a federal class action lawsuit against Bloomberg, New York City, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and many police officers on behalf of the 700 Occupy protesters arrested Oct. 1.
Also on Sunday, a group of more than 200 Occupiers in San Francisco took over a building being warehoused by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, highlighting a tactic some real estate developers use to take advantage of the clergy's tax-free status. Religious organizations typically don't pay taxes on their land holdings and revenue in this nation, encouraging many to keep property empty that could be used to shelter the homeless and needy.
The warehousing of empty dwellings by religious groups helps drive up rents and sale prices by reducing the supply of habitable buildings. It's also used by developers to shelter idle property from taxes until they're ready to begin a new conversion, renovation or construction project.
The two-story building, located at 888 Turk St., soon filled with hundreds of exuberant Occupiers and is now being used as a community social center, according to Occupy Wall Street. Protest organizers were requesting help and support Monday as police surrounded the building with barricades.
Preliminary reports indicate that the Archdiocese has asked police not to take any immediate action, according to the main Occupy website.
The San Francisco march echoes a protest tactic used by Occupiers in New York City on Dec. 18, when 10,000 marchers tried to establish a tent camp in a vacant lot owned by the Trinity Wall Street Church in Lower Manhattan. The Episcopal church enjoys a nonprofit tax exemption even though it has a $10 billion real estate portfolio and is led by a rector who received $1.29 million in total compensation in 2009.
All photos of the Brooklyn Bridge march were taken by Bangarang Photography. Additional Bangarang pics below.
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