At first they trickled in. Individuals wearing blue entered Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and gathered together in the central square. Soon waves of people were flowing into the park. The energy continued to build as a marching band played and nearly 3,000 people prepared to “Flood Wall Street.”
A large, inflatable “carbon bubble” was bounced around by the crowd before being brought down and popped by nearly a dozen police officers.
The action, organized on the heels of the People’s Climate March, aimed to directly tie the climate crisis to the extractive economic system. Author Naomi Klein addressed the crowd, invoking the core ideas of her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.
Following Klein, climate justice activists from around the world spoke about the acute impacts from climate change being felt in their communities. Their words were echoed through the crowd by the people’s mic—a core practice of the Occupy movement, used to address large crowds.
At the conclusion of the festive rally in Battery Park, protestors began to flood into the streets and headed north on Broadway Avenue toward Wall Street’s iconic bronze bull statue. Morning traffic came to a complete stop as thousands of blue shirts filled the streets. Quickly, the protestors surrounded the bronze bull on all sides and began a sit-in that lasted for hours. The time was filled with singing, chants, and speeches from members of the Climate Justice Alliance—a coalition of 35 community-based groups that work together on climate issues. A large, inflatable “carbon bubble” was bounced around by the crowd before being brought down and popped by nearly a dozen police officers.
After several hours of sustaining the sit-in, action organizers suggested that the crowd move father up Broadway to the intersection with Wall Street. Participants gathered up the two enormous banners that read “Capitalism = Climate Chaos. Flood Wall Street”—and headed swiftly up the street. Waiting at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street were dozens of police officers in riot gear. Several protestors attempted to push through the police line and were met with pepper spray.
After things settled down, protestors decided to hold the space for another hour through the closing bell of the stock exchange. Police brought in metal barricades to surround the protest, but the mood stayed light as a hundred pizzas were delivered to the site. As business on Wall Street closed for the day, participants threw handfuls of blue powder into the air in celebration of successfully “flooding” the financial center with waves of people power.
Here are some pictures that offer an intimate look inside the event.
Young people march with a “Flood Wall Street” banner. Photo by Shadia Fayne Wood / Project Survival Media.
A scene from the sit-in during Flood Wall Street. Photo by Shadia Fayne-Wood / Project Survival Media.
A giant “carbon bubble” floats above the crowd. Photo by Shadia Fayne-Wood / Project Survival Media.
Demonstrators hang out under a large banner. Photo by Shadia Fayne-Wood / Project Survival Media.
Participants at Flood Wall Street included climate activists not formerly involved in economic justice fights as well as seasoned social movement workers such as Christine Cordero (in orange bandana) and Nene Igietseme from the Center for Story-based Strategy (at right). Photo by the author.
Demonstrators play a game of cards during the sit-in. Photo by the author.
Flood Wall Street organizers huddle to plan next steps during the action. Photo by the author.
Participants enjoyed each others’ company while hunkering down to hold the space. Hannah Jones from the Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice has jail support numbers written on her arm prepared to risk arrest. Photo by the author.
Protesters unfurled two 300-foot banners reading “Capitalism = Climate Chaos. Flood Wall Street.” A main goal of the action was to bring an economic analysis of the climate crisis into the mainstream. Photo by the author.
Climate justice activists from across the country got a rare opportunity to join together in person. Members of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network 350.org the Maypop Collective Peaceful Uprising and the Responsible Endowments Coalition celebrate the demonstration. Photo by the author.