Twelve protesters were arrested Sunday night on a march through Lower Manhattan to show support for Occupy protesters in Oakland, where a violent confrontation erupted between the police and demonstrators who tried to take over an empty convention center.
The crowd in New York, about 300 strong, occasionally surged into streets and on at least two occasions someone in the crowd threw a bottle, apparently aimed at police officers who accompanied the march on foot and in vehicles. The police plunged into the crowd several times.
Three men were charged with assault and one with criminal weapons possession, the police said. Most of the rest of those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct. Three of the 12 people arrested were women. An officer sustained an injured finger.
The demonstration began just after 7:00 in Washington Square, where hundreds of people assembled near a fountain, beating drums and waving flags.
A man stood on the lip of the fountain and announced: “We’re going to get the backs of our brothers and sisters in the Bay Area,” adding: “Let’s march.”
With that the crowd headed north on Fifth Avenue chanting ”New York is Oakland; Oakland is New York” The marchers turned west on 14th Street, then flowed into the roadway on Avenue of the Americas. One man dragged plastic construction barrels into the roadway as police cars and vans followed the march, sirens blaring.
Officers chased several young men on 17th Street after one of them dragged a wooden sawhorse into the road. Then men got away, but soon afterward later an officer grabbed another man walking on a sidewalk and wearing a balaclava.
A few moments later, on Park Avenue, a man wearing dark clothes and wearing no visible badge grabbed a woman by the arm and threw her to the ground. Uniformed officers arrested that woman and a second woman as some officers blocked the lens of a newspaper photographer attempting to document the arrests.
As they were led away in handcuffs the two told onlookers that they had done nothing to deserve being arrested. The woman thrown to the ground identified herself as Jessica Lemmer, 21, and said that the man in the dark clothes had thrown her down after she told him not to push her.
At the corner of East 13th Street and Second Avenue, the police dragged a man from the crowd, accusing him of having thrown a bottle.
Just before 10, the marchers arrived on East 9th Street just east of Avenue B and congregated in front of an empty former school building that had housed the Charas / El Bohio Cultural and Community Center before the group was evicted ten years ago by a developer, Gregg L. Singer, who had bought the building at a city auction.
“This was once a vibrant community center,” announced a man, as others pounded on a tall plywood fence that sealed the empty building off from the sidewalk. “The people in Oakland wanted to create a community center.”
A security guard emerged from inside the building and peered down from an elevated plaza at those outside. A man tried to clamber over the fence, but police officers quickly pulled him down and arrested him as a helicopter with a spotlight hovered overhead.
By 10:30, most of those on the march had moved to Tompkins Square. One man strummed a mandolin. Another tapped on a drum. Several others stretched out on an asphalt pathway, using backpacks as pillows and gazing at the sky as a line of police officers stood at a nearby entrance to the park.