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!