Occupy Wall Street hoped to show there was life after Zuccotti Thursday by staging a series of marches and rallies – starting with a sneak attack on the Stock Exchange itself.
As the city braced for a “sizeable” crowd, observers on both sides said the scale of the protest would show whether the two-month-old movement could regain momentum after Tuesday’s demoralizing defeat.
OWS hoped anger over the NYPD raid that razed their iconic tent city at Zuccotti Park would breathe new life into a cause that had begun to sputter.
The “day of action” is to begin early, with protesters converging on Wall Street camouflaged in business suits hoping to blend in with office workers trooping out of the subway.
“We will rise from beneath. They can’t stop all of us. It’s going to get crazy,” vowed one organizer. “They took the first shot Tuesday night. [Thursday] we return fire. We will be peaceful, but we will resist.”
The city said it was bracing for tens of thousands of people in the streets.
“The protesters are calling for a massive event aimed at disrupting major parts of the city,” said Howard Wolfson, deputy mayor for governmental affairs. “We will be prepared for that.”
He said the Police Department was working with the MTA to head off any subway disruptions.
“We’re ready,” said a top police source. “The problem is no one knows how big they will be. We’ll have a lot of people out there and if it doesn’t pan out it’ll look like overkill. But we’re going to be ready for it, just in case.”
The weather may curb the crowds: Indian summer vanishes today, leaving behind rain and temperatures in the 40s.
Protesters said they aimed to “shut down Wall Street” and disrupt the 9:30 a.m. opening bell – a prospect Mayor Bloomberg scoffed at earlier this week.
“The New York Stock Exchange will open on time. People will be able to get to work, you can rest assured,” he told reporters Monday.
The protesters also planned to head underground at 16 MTA hubs across all five boroughs to conduct “subway speakouts” – billed as an effort to “share stories of economic hardship” with straphangers.
A 2 p.m. student gathering at Union Square will then march to a 5 p.m. permitted union rally at Foley Square, which may draw thousands.
Among the unions expected to participate are the transport workers, teachers, municipal employees, communications workers, building employees and health care workers.
“You are going to see thousands of frustrated American workers on the street,” said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, which represents the city’s unions. “The hardships and economic disparities that exist for working American people today are broader than Zuccotti Park.”
The day will end up with an evening march to the Brooklyn Bridge, where mass acts of civil disobedience are planned, including a sit-in by 99 faith leaders representing “the 99%.”