NEW YORK—Hundreds of activists marched through New York City’s financial district on Monday to protest the role they said Wall Street has played in climate change, blocking intersections on Broadway in an unsanctioned protest that led to at least three arrests.
In an action they called Flood Wall Street, protesters gathered around the statute of the charging bull in Bowling Green Park during the first half of the day, forming a blockade nearly one block long northward. They then marched Uptown around 4 p.m. to the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street, in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
The protesters were drawn from the radical fringe of Sunday’s People’s Climate March, which drew 300,000 marchers and resulted in zero arrests, according to the city’s police.
Whereas Sunday’s march had the support of the establishment—it counted Al Gore, Bill de Blasio, and Leonardo DiCaprio among its participants—Monday’s protests clashed with it, which for some protesters conferred more credibility on the protests.
“It seemed like a more grass-roots action to me. There were designated free speech zones yesterday for the 400,000 people marching. We only have 3,000 people here, but we’re actually disrupting traffic,” said Max Ocean, a student at Ithaca College. “We’re making an obvious effect that these bankers, when they came out to lunch, they saw. I think that’s more powerful even though the numbers are much lower today.”
Monday’s protest—nominally a continuation of the Sunday’s climate march—is in many ways a continuation of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Many of the protesters on Monday were veterans of the 2011 movement, and they used similar techniques like mass tweeting to get a protest hashtag trending on Twitter.
“We have taken the—one space [the charging bull] that Occupy Wall Street—could not,” said Justin Stone Diaz, an Occupy veteran, in staccato, with the crowd repeating his phrases in the human microphone fashion popular with Occupy Wall Street. “I need you right now—to get on the same page— about our hashtag. The hashtag—is the movement.”
Billed as a climate change protest, Monday’s gathering excoriated capitalism in its rhetoric more than global warming. A few protesters wore stickers calling for an overthrow of the capitalist system via revolution, and others carried posters from the Black Rose Anarchist Federation.
“Green capitalism is an umbrella term for businesses that label themselves as green or sustainable,” said James, 29, who carried a “Green Capitalism Can’t Save Us” placard with a black and red anarchist flag as its background. “Capitalism is inherently nonsustainable, it’s a system of endless growth … so the system in and of itself cannot be green in the sense of being sustainable.”
By 6 p.m. the protesters were enclosed at the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street by hundreds of police officers in all directions, separated by steel barricades that protesters stopped trying to overturn after being pepper sprayed.
“The financial industry has so many ties to the oil and gas industry,” said Max Ocean. “Wall Street is the symbolic heart of capitalism. It’s not just we’re against the banking industry, this representative of the capitalist system we think is necessary to dismantle in order to receive climate justice.”