Police crackdown gives more momentum to OWS

Since the OWS movement started on September 17, many doubted it would last very long. But despite cold weather and police crackdowns, activists are still out on the streets protesting against inequality and corporate greed.

The situation in downtown Manhattan is relatively peaceful right now, following a protest Wednesday evening, when hundreds of activists took to the streets in support of activists in Oakland, California, who earlier suffered a riot police crackdown.

Demonstrators marched in downtown Manhattan and encircled City Hall, chanting "New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York." At least 10 people were arrested at the rally.

A rather mild reaction from the NYPD to the latest rally in downtown Manhattan has surprised some protesters. But as RT’s Lucy Kafanov reports, the mood in Zuccotti Park is nonetheless wary, as activists worry there might be a massive crackdown by police to stop the occupation.

Despite nonstop rain and rapidly dropping temperatures, the activists living in New York’s Zuccotti Park for the past six weeks show no signs of leaving, RT’s Marina Portnaya reported.

But the spotlight is on the protest that is taking place in Oakland, where clashes with police turned violent several days ago. On Tuesday, police fired tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets at the Occupy Oakland activists.

Among those injured in the violence was Scott Olsen, an Iraq war veteran, who was hit in the head with a police projectile. The 24-year-old ex-marine was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull.

The Occupy Oakland crowd has grown even larger since the police crackdown, and many believe the police violence is giving the movement even more momentum and support.

We will not be afraid, we will not be silenced, we will not stand quietly while police brutalize peaceful occupiers,” OWS protesters vowed on a movement website. “We fight for true democracy, and we fight to end the tyranny of the 1 per cent. This is only the beginning. We are all Scott Olsen.”

On Friday afternoon, the protesters in New York City plan to march to the headquarters of major banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup, to deliver 6,000 letters from “the 99 per cent to the 1 per cent.”

Joshua Holland, an editor and senior writer at AlterNet, says the police crackdown is only inspiring more protests.

When the excessive police tactics end up on YouTube, it inspires people to join the movement,” he said.

Occupy Wall Street is a “genuine grassroots movement,” he explained. “There is no top-down leadership, they don’t have necessarily media training.”

According to Holland, the movement has achieved some significant victories, with the mayor of Oakland completely reversing her position on the protests and vowing to oversee an investigation into some of the acts of alleged police violence.

Every single time I go down to both Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland, the crowds are larger than they were the time before,” he added.