The Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City last month have officially spread across the globe.
Thousands of people gathered across North America and Europe today to vent their frustrations with the economic meltdown and subsequent lack of government response.
Here in New York City, the Occupy Wall Street protesters were scheduled to walk from their home base, in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, up to Times Square. I decided to head to this New York City landmark to see the demonstration firsthand.
I walked alongside the protestors for several blocks, and though it was very crowded it was generally peaceful and orderly. My experience was at odds with the media coverage of today’s rally, which focused on the 70-odd arrests. (The New York Post declared, “Protest pandemonium as mob descends on Times Square”).
>>Scroll down for 13 photos of today’s Times Square rally
I got off the subway at 34th Street at 4:30 pm, arriving at 42nd Street and Broadway just ahead of the Occupy Wall Street marchers.
As I watched, thousands of protesters walked towards the center of Time Square and began to congregate at 46th Street. There was a massive police presence, including a string of NYPD vehicles along 42nd Street. The police attempted to maintain order by setting up barricades to divert traffic.
There was constant chanting and a lot of signs, though not quite as colorful as the protest art in Zuccotti Park last week.
After I left Times Square around 6 pm, I noticed tweets claiming that police were using nets to control crowds. I didn’t see anything like that during my visit to Times Square; the police were out in force but I didn’t witness any major conflicts between the NYPD and protesters.
Locals reclaim a tourist attraction
Normally Time Square is a tourist haven, so it was an interesting change to see it filled with New Yorkers. In fact, the tourists who were there today seemed excited to have bumped into the massive protest and were frantically snapping photos and videos.
Not everyone was enjoying the throngs of people, however. In the middle of the march, as foot traffic slowed to a stand-still, I overheard a pair of women complaining that they were just trying to get to their jobs on 47th Street.
>> Scroll down for more photos of today’s OWS demonstration in Time Square