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People Rise, Cops Blink and a Human Rights Movement Takes Root in a New York Park
Bell Dobbs went to lower Broadway and Wall Street by his personal transportation. It's a fine ride on his bike that has no name and a lot of years and slams and mileage on it as the worn paint and many scratches and dents show.
Dobbs parks his bike in an alley and locks it to the fence and goes on today's business. Certainly put him as Wall Street. You must identify him as a gentle-speaking complete enemy. And we forget one major detail: His bike is faded red.
Once he dismounts, Dobbs, lanky with a great voice, passes Wall Street for Zuccotti Park on Broadway, which is threatening to become historic. He is a marcher, a rabble-rouser and press spokesman for the crowd that each day is gathering more and more for the protest against the 1% of this city, if not the entire nation. The rich treat big money like they permanently own it.
Dobbs got to the heart of the protests at the park on Broadway, where there were only 66,000 square feet. There are 43,000 to an acre. So you have an acre and a half, a suburban-size yard that is packed with a young throng hardly able to wait to get the feet moving.
The stodgy, dusty people in the employ of news somewhere in the city began covering this story a month ago by claiming that the cause does not really exist, that the protesters were children with no idea of anything to do but annoy the adults. Each day, the crowd grew larger and there came a moment in a city newsroom when somebody picked up his head and wondered if they couldn't begin to cover the news.
The news was not about Bloomberg the mayor. He has an arrogance that, as always with the rich, comes with the poorest knowledge of people. I don't know how the city made him mayor. It also turns out that his lady friend is on the board of the real estate company that handles Zuccotti Park, and that wants to push and con the protesters out of the park. Great surprise!
The mayor wants the protesters to beat it out of the park. Bloomberg seems to stand with the people in New York who don't stand for all of the city.
The police we pay for packed the streets around the park for a great push scheduled for Friday morning. Beautiful. That was an idea for the single maddest move any government of this place has ever made. We had a great active crowd. Labor unions were starting to show up for the big march. And on the other side, police who have at times lost all sense of restraint.
By breakfast on Friday we probably were eligible for a riot as big as they come. The protesters were ready for anything from 4 a.m. on. So were the police. It was to be a day for the ultra-conservatives, and their great jealousy of the young.
At the park on Broadway, Mr. Dobbs, while taking me through the growing crowd of his movement, introduced me to two protesters who were sitting on the wall on one side of the park. They were Sofia Rasmussen, 18, and her friend Dakota Fisher, 20. They both are here from their homes in Maine. I asked them what they thought was happening.
"This could have ended today," Dakota said. "We thought we would be arrested and there would be no more."
"Everybody showed up," Dakota said. "We could be in the biggest thing if this just keeps going. We're here for the winter."
Dakota started in New York with hamburgers in joints downtown that took as much of his life as he could put up. At the finish one day he walked up to Broadway to see this Zuccotti Park that he had heard about. Upon seeing the park, he and hamburgers had a parting. Dakota and the young woman went into Zuccotti Park and they will march and cheer and just by their young frames in motion inspire the crowd to succeed.
And that is exactly how it played out. On Friday just after 6 a.m., the use of police suddenly was called off.
"Somebody blinked," one protester said.