March Day 1 – Liberty Plaza to Elizabeth, NJ

Approximately 20 people had committed to this march as of Tuesday evening. Even as of late this morning(Wednesday), hours before the march is set to start, many marchers have no knowledge of the media frenzy springing up all over the world. Crawling out of our dew-covered tents, exhausted from another night of Manhattan noise, excitement still shines brightly through tired voices. To quote one marcher, “This is going to be the most awesome thing I’ve ever done even if just 3 of us go.”

By 10AM, already being hunted down by international reporters throughout the Liberty Plaza encampment, we all stand in awe behind the great global power of this movement. By noon there are 25 confirmed marchers assembled underneath the bright red steel beam structure at the southeast corner of the park. A reporter mob of twice that number battles one another for the best shots in the very confined spaces of a stairwell. None of us has ever experienced anything like this, now feeling as if we have just stepped onto the red carpet to receive an Oscar. Some marchers seem to be left speechless, surely to the great dismay of this media army who outnumbers us 2-to-1.

Last minute marchers include a man with no shoes and another man carrying only a Guy Fawkes mask. The mass of well-wishers marching with us to the ferry terminal is so great that at least one marcher looses his way and will have to rejoin us later via public transit. A fleet of NYPD motorcycles joins in as we pass along the perimeters of Ground Zero. A dozen remaining reporters fight rolling waves to get group shots on the ferry to New Jersey. A new batch of police is there waiting for us on the Jersey shore, politely asking that we please move through the city before the schools close.

The number of well-wishers and reporters slowly dwindles through the afternoon, leaving just two reporters by early evening. Local cops hand us off to one another at each jurisdictional border, with 1 to 4 police vehicles always following or leading. Marching through historic downtown Newark and other areas with many pedestrians, we chant popular Occupy slogans and make up a few new ones also.

Public support is absolutely amazing, with horns honking and hands waving almost constantly. A river barge captain even blows his fog horn while the crew cheers on deck as we cross a bridge. Bone shaking semi truck horns are at times nonstop, with all commercial truck drivers seeming to relate very strongly with the Occupy movement.

Many people have heard about this march on last night’s news. Negative comments are far and few in between, less than 1%. One onlooker yells, “Lets kill the flag holder” as we pass through a government housing project. He is referring to either the lead marcher who carries an American flag or a rear marcher who carries a “corporate” American flag. One male motorist yells, “Get a job” and another screams, “Go home!”. In none of these cases did any marcher express any concern for our safety, considering that a cop car was always within earshot.

A police cruiser collides with a black SUV in a pedestrian crossing just as we step out into the roadway. Pieces of the cop’s bumper land within feet of us as the black SUV slides sideways through the crosswalk. Another freak near-accident happens when a marcher falls halfway through a manhole cover that is not properly seated. The marcher’s leg is pinned by the heavy steel cover and has to be freed by another marcher, but no serious injury.

The day’s voyage could have been completed soon after sundown had the police not asked us to change our route. A potentially dangerous highway overpass is detoured at a cost of at least 3 extra miles, leaving us to march for hours after dark.

At 8:30 we arrive to the home of tonight’s hosts, arranged via couchsurfing.com. One police car follows us to the house and another is already there waiting. An officer in a white dress shirt stands ominously on the sidewalk, asking to speak with the home owner. Not having considered this type of police action, we’d earlier told a cop the exact address we were headed to.

“Why are you letting these people stay with you?”, “What are you serving for dinner?”, “Can we remain parked in front of your house tonight?”, the better-dressed cop asks in a series of unusual questions to our host.

At this point everyone looses just a bit of patience for this police presence, changing from a stance of politeness to one of mere tolerance. The homeowner informs the cop in white that he is not welcome to park in front of his house. Two police cars remain parked at the end of the street all night long.

The single family dwelling is packed to the brim with marchers. Our host actually lives with his mom and extended family. We had contacted him 3 days ago requesting to arrive with 7 marchers. “Mom, there’s 25 people coming now”, he’d informed her this afternoon. Seeing every single chair and most of the floor space of her entire first level filled with strange strangers, mom simply greets us with a big smile and serves ice tea.

Our couchsurfing host, the son Ken, prepares a pot of hot soup….then another…..then another. He makes his shower available immediately, AND EVEN HIS BIG BACKYARD JACUZZI! After dinner we begin our first-ever marchers’ General Assembly. The meeting is somewhat informal but very smooth, also attended by our host and a young boy, both of whom follow along in the proper format and offer suggestions.

As this text is being composed at 3AM, a group of 3 marchers sits in the kitchen with our host and a roommate as the rest sleep throughout the home and its backyard deck.  Two of us answer the flurry of email and comments while the shoeless man makes a dream catcher out of broken automobile light bulbs, bolts and other things he found along the walk today. He says no shoes all the way to DC and we say more power to him.

OCCUPY EVERYTHING NOW!

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33 responses to “March Day 1 – Liberty Plaza to Elizabeth, NJ

  • Savannah Black (@SavannahMuire)

    I hope everyone gets enough rest and I hope that tomorrow you won’t have any serious setbacks or difficulties. Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    You are amazing. We are with you in our hearts and minds all the way.
    Keep up the good work!

  • Ryan Muehlberg

    When you get to D.C. someone should put up a “For Sale – Foreclosure” sign on the white house lawn…

  • Anonymous

    I shouldn’t have read this so early in the morning as it makes me teary eyed; and I am sitting in a cube at my soul sucking job. Thank you all for accomplishing what many of us previously thought impossible. I hope to see you all safely in Bensalem, Pa on Saturday. Godspeed.

  • Anne

    You commitment to the revolution is matched by your awesome ability to tell the story of it. Keep writing, keep marching – the wind on your back is filled with the well wishes of millions.

  • Katie Un-OccupyEquality Cumiskey

    This is so beautiful and meaningful. So you have 25 people with you… wow. I wish I could have gone with you. I will be watching lovingly from afar! :)

  • bobby j

    I am swelling with pride and emotion for you folks. It makes me proud, once again, to be an American. Thank you.

  • SusieOdonnell

    Good morning Marchers! We are proud of you! Blessings from Marin County. Keep the Faith and March for JUSTICE!

  • Anonymous

    I agree with putting a foreclosure sign up on the white house lawn and making sure you get TONS if pouches before it gets taken down. Press will be there to take care of that.

  • poetryeditor

    Do you want people to join you in DC? Will there be a rally at the White House? I cannot march to DC, but I and others could easily take a bus from NYC to meetup in DC with marchers.

  • Melvin Dean Baker

    Be sure to hit up local press along the way. You’ll get a lot more coverage from local TV, radio and newspapers as you make your way south. You have the advantage of cell phones, on the Great Peace March in 1986 we had to make all our press calls at pay phones (I know it was the dark ages.)
    If you need any advice on contacting the press let me know and I’ll be happy to chat with you, unfortunately I’m on the opposite coast, but I work in local TV and radio and have done activist P.R. back in the day. The administrator of the blog can see my email address and you’re welcome to contact me that way with a phone number and I’ll give you a call.

    Keep up the good work guys. Stay close to each other, check in on people’s health and all the stuff about how they’re holding up. You should be a small enough group to do this without a big support system, but be ready for some really rough nights when you don’t do what we used to call “marcher in the home!”

    The spirit of the Great Peace March is watching over you!

    Peace, Love & Justice for all!

  • David Thomas

    Resolve defined. Be safe. See you in Virginia.

  • Mai Sakura Smith-Andino

    I pray for your safe journey into the depths of the hell we call the government. Please raise your voices for those who could not join you and keep yourselves strong. You represent us, the way the government should have. Thank You So Much for your dedication!

  • Jersey Jeff

    I just saw you guys taking a break in Rahway Park in Rahway, NJ. I hope you enjoyed the hot dogs. Thank you for marching and God Bless you!

  • Mike

    You got me thinking, from Elizabeth to Trenton, you’ll be marching a very similar route to what Washington’s army marched in the waning days of 1776. It was colder then, during the little ice age and before industrialization permanently altered the makeup of our atmosphere. The roads were semi-frozen muck with deep ruts from carriage wheels, and many of the men did not have proper shoes, let alone uniforms. They were pursued not by steroid-addled NJ cops but by the most professional and well-equipped army in the world… but still, I think it’s worth remembering that this is a very historic route to march, and to remember those who sacrificed for some foggy notion of freedom, and for a nation that scarcely existed 235 years ago.

  • Anonymous

    I live in England,wish I could be their when you reach D.C.
    May I quote from Mohandas Gandi.

    A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.

    May his spirit be with you.With truth peace and love on your side.
    Stay safe.

  • Robert Vulgamore

    Upon rising this morning and viewing a bright new day ahead,my thoughts turned to you. I recalled an ancient oriental quote that goes something like this: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  • Amy R Ican

    From here in the Black Hills of South Dakota just miles from Mt Rushmore, the “shrine to democracy”, I, a lone occupier, thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you are doing.

  • DrChill

    Would you be able to update your location periodically?
    Either Long Lat ( GPS) or
    street intersections?
    I’d like to come by.
    I will not be able to walk, but can offer:
    Moral support, and perhaps transportation, laundry run, trips to the store.. or other misc help.
    I think this is going to grow as you go….
    Best of luck…

  • Marie

    All of us at InnerSelf.com are following and we wish you the best. May your March to The C rival Gandhi’s March to the Sea.

  • Cee Speedway

    I am overcome with happiness for your journey in history. Please know that I am with you in solidarity and wish for the sun to shine on you along your way.
    Thanks to all of your hosts who are with the 99%.

  • Cheri Carpenter-Lundstrom

    I’m overcome with emotion and will probably cry half the night but thank you for doing what I am unable to do. You are this old lady’s heroes, bless you today, tomorrow and so long as you walk the face of this planet.

  • Anonymous

    Wow!! Solidarity from Vancouver, Canada!! Thank you for all that you do for the betterment of your country and our world!

  • Terri

    Solidarity from Vancouver, Canada. Thank you for all that you do for the betterment of your country and our world. (I can barely see through the tears to type this out.)

  • ellen

    God bless you all, we are so proud of you. Everyone at Occupy Philly is bursting with excitement for your arrival on Sunday. You are our heroes, every one of you!

  • Sarah

    You all are amazing people. Thank you so much for doing this, you are heroes every one of you!

  • Anonymous

    I am a Canadian visiting in America on Veteran’s Day. Congratulations and good will , you are the one’s to bring back the spirit of America that made this a great country once and to send a message to the rest of the corporate world and politicians in Canada and all countries that we the 99+% are fed up and we are very serious and will demand changes.
    I am not there with you in body but I sure am in spirit. Peace and Courage can win !

  • Rickey Waldrop

    I will be arriving at Liberty Plaza (my 2nd trip) from NC on the 17th. On the 21st, I will be flying to Florida where I will take part in Occupy Orlando. You say they will be meeting you in DC on the 23rd. Maybe I’ll be able to make the trip with them to be in DC on the 23rd. Plans were made two weeks ago, or I would be Marching with you brave Men and Women of Zucotte Park.

  • Patsy Messier

    Stay strong and watch each other’s backs. Stay peaceful. And have fun !! You make me proud to be an Amercian again.

  • ○ the ministry of lengthy walks • under the haystack ○

    […] what happened next, they can tell you themselves, but things seemed to be going well. unrequested police escorts ushered the marchers from municipality to municipality, as truckers […]

  • filmdevourer

    Good luck on your journey! I wish I could join you; however, I will have to settle with being with you in spirit. Please stay safe and strong! Everyone of Occupy Atlanta is with you.

  • Maddie

    thanks and support from bloomington-normal IL!! This is an incredible undertaking, and we support and love you! Solidarity and support, stay strong, and safe! legit, Does the shoeless guy want shoes? I’m sure we can get him some…. easily…. just wondering.

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