Despite the arrest of 700 people on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, Occupy Wall Street continued to grow this weekend. As the movement enters its third week, observers seem to have agreed that the protesters are more serious — and appealing — than suggested by earlier reports. The Daily News claims that "hundreds" of arrested protesters returned to the demonstration immediately after jail. One, Robert Grodt, told the paper, "I'm back because I want to tell everyone: just because we're being arrested, we're not being silenced." Another indicated that the confrontation was exactly what he'd signed up for. "You go to Italy, you eat gelato," said Daniel Levine. "You go to a protest, you expect to be arrested." The New York Post, which has decided protesters are "in for the long haul," reported that a group of New York and New Jersey public school teachers drew attention for grading papers in Zuccotti Park on Sunday:
[Teacher Denise Martinez], a 47-year-old Brooklyn resident works at a school where most students are at poverty level.
She said funding for education has shrunk to the point where her classes are as large as about 50.
"These are America's future workers, and what's trickling down to them are the problems — the unemployment, the crime."
The protesters' ranks are expected to get even more respectable on Wednesday, as labor unions join them for a large-scale march. And like-minded people are starting to occupy places outside New York: Similar gatherings took place in Chicago and Los Angeles, and there are plans for demonstrations in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Prague, Melbourne, and Montreal. Between that, the mass arrests, and weekend visits from Cornel West and Michael Moore, Bloomberg (News, not Michael) speculated that the initially ragtag operation was "ready for prime time." As sociologist Daniel Meyer put it:
The question activists face is "How do you do something that generates news, which doesn’t implicate you for being at fault?’ And I guess New York City police were really helpful in this regard."
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg (who may or may not be willing to let Occupy Wall Street go on indefinitely) told reporters the police “did exactly what they are supposed to" with regard to the protesters. So, everyone agrees, then?
Occupy Wall Street protesters return to demonstration hours after being arrested [NYDN]
Wall Street protesters: We're in for long haul [NYP]
Wall Street Protest Spreads [WSJ]
Anti-Wall Street Protests Reach ‘Prime Time’ [Bloomberg]