Yesterday, several hundred Occupy Wall Street protesters decided that the best way to topple the oligarchy of "the other one percent" was to cause chaos for the commuters heading in and out of Brooklyn. Which is why they occupied several lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge, closing it off for hours, and leading police to make mass arrests. By late yesterday, reports were coming in that as many as 500 protesters had been detained, with that number slowly rising in the ensuing hours. A police spokesperson speaking to AP later confirmed the true figure.
Over 700 [disorderly conduct] summonses and desk appearance tickets have been issued in connection with a demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge late this afternoon after multiple warnings by police were given to protesters to stay on the pedestrian walkway, and that if they took roadway they would be arrested.
By 8 p.m. or so, the bridge had been cleared and reopened to car traffic, but the sheer number of protesters taken into custody caused a logistical snarl of its own. By around 10:30 and 11 p.m., protesters and news agencies began tweeting from precincts as far away as Midtown north, but mostly in Brooklyn — including the 75th in East New York, and 90th in Williamsburg — where busloads of arrestees had been waiting for hours already. At the 77th in Crown Heights one man, who described himself as a friend of some of the arrested protesters, tweeted that many of them were being held in idling buses, still with white plastic-tie handcuffs on, and not allowed food or water — only five people were being allowed in at a time. A woman tweeting from the 79th precinct in Crown Heights said about 75 protesters were being processed there—also five at a time—and that three were being trucked off to prison because of priors. She added that many of the protesters, once released, were heading back to Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street headquarters.
This morning, Business Insider sent a reporter to the since-renamed Liberty Plaza to gauge the fallout and mood among protesters camped there. The abiding narrative seems to be that the original plan was to march along the bridge's pedestrian walkway but that people slowly started trickling onto the roadway, with policemen watching on and simply directing traffic around them. (Many protesters now accuse the police of tricking them into taking the roadway; the police say that's not the case, that they did warn the protesters to stay away, and that they even released those who might have been too far back to hear.) Eventually the numbers grew and the protesters on the raised walkway began noticing police making random arrests, before ultimately boxing the majority of the protesters with the latest crowd control tool: orange-red nets. Interestingly, according to Business Insider, almost all those arrested were men.
For a look at what a modern-day protest looks like, complete with citizen journalists chronicling police arrests on their cell phones, check out this raw footage from the AP.