November 17, 2011, New York City.
Walking down 7th Avenue from 34th Street at 4:30 in the afternoon (in an effort to avoid getting stuck in traffic because of Occupy Wall Street’s DAY OF ACTION), Marash Girl saw a huge American flag and heard the roar of the chant: THIS is democracy, THIS is democracy. She had walked south to about 14th Street when she found herself in the middle of 7th Avenue, literally, surrounded by thousands of folks ahead of her, thousands of folks behind her, not marching, but moving quickly, and sometimes running to catch up to the thousands ahead.
From sidewalk to sidewalk there were 15 to 20 people walking abreast as far as the eye could see – up and down 7th Avenue, amidst the cars, limos, taxis, buses, trucks (many of whom were smiling and calling out words of encouragement) . . . the demonstrators shouting slogans – Whose Street? Our Street! and Wall Street? Our Street! and We are the 99%. So are you!
Join us! Join us! these clean, combed, beardless, neatly dressed young people called to the folks cheering on the sidelines. One young woman called back, "I want to join you, but I don’t want to get arrested!" Very few walkers were from the 1960’s . . . most were the age of their children and grandchildren. Yesterday there was no singing, just chanting. And the occasional chant of 'SHAME, SHAME' as the group passed a NYC policeman who was trying to do his job. As Marash Girl trekked along with the crowds, she recalled the chants of the past: "What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!" But those were not the chants of yesterday. These were:
"Democracy? THIS is democracy." And "Banks got Bailed out, we got sold out."
As the OWS walked south on 7th Avenue, a man threw wet paper towels down at the demonstrators – yelling, ‘GET A JOB’, missing the very point. The woman to the right of Marash Girl snarled, let him come down here and say that! There are no jobs! And later, as Marash Girl walked down Broadway, a young woman pushing a baby carriage (she was tall and elegantly dressed) stated (not asked), Why don’t they get a job! Marash Girl, thinking it was a sincere question, answered, There are no jobs. That’s the point! The mother answered in a huff: let them take the jobs of the illegal immigrants. Let them clean houses. They think they’re too good for that! I live here and I can’t even get home, she said, as she hurried south along the eastern edge of Tribeca with her baby in the most expensive stroller Marash Girl has ever seen!
Marash Girl left the demonstrators at Foley Square where the demonstrators had gathered and were being addressed through bullhorns both by their leaders as well as by police. She was warned by one of the demonstrators that if she didn’t want to get arrested, she’d better walk "that a way", as he pointed west toward Broadway. Not seriously fearing arrest, but having run out of time (she was to meet her son at 5:30), she left the group behind her, as a phalanx of mounted police paraded west on Worth Street past Foley Square, towards Broadway. Marash Girl wasn't sure just how safe she felt as she passed grim-faced NYC police officers lining both sides of the sidewalk (every 10 feet) as she walked south on Broadway. She saw no newspaper reporters.
Later, Marash Girl checked the local TV coverage and heard from the folks that were inconvenienced because they couldn’t get across the street as quickly as they liked. Saying there were less than 1000 marching, Bloomberg obviously hadn't looked out his window; either that, or he had never learned how to count real people. The OWS protestors had taken over the roads and the powers that be hadn’t stopped them. At least as long as Marash Girl was there to protect them!