A day after 100,000 people marched to warn that climate change is destroying the Earth, hundreds of activists gathered Monday in lower Manhattan's financial district, chanting, carrying signs and — in some places — sitting down in the street to protest what they said was corporate and economic institutions' role in the climate crisis.
There were reports of some isolated arrests of protesters, who police said did not obtain a permit for the rally. But by and large, the police, office workers and tourists watched alike as the activists chanted: "We can't take this climate heat; we've got to shut down Wall Street," and bounced two large, inflatable balloons meant to represent carbon dioxide bubbles. Police later punctured the balloons.
"Nice to see big crowd on hand for #FloodWallStreet," tweeted environmental activist Bill McKibben, "it's a beautiful morning on the Battery."
Ben Shapiro, an urban farmer and bread maker from Youngstown, Ohio, said he didn't participate in Sunday's march but came specifically on Monday because he's concerned about fracking, a technique that cracks open rock layers to free natural gas, and feels the financial system enables pollution.
"I wanted to come specifically to disrupt Wall Street because it's Wall Street that's fueling this," said Shapiro, while sitting next to the famed bull statute on Broadway. "I'm going after the source of the problem. ... That means actively having to confront the system."
The organizers of #FloodWallStreet said the sit-in aimed to disrupt business in the financial district by targeting "corporate polluters and those profiting from the fossil fuel industry."
Tourist Matilde Soligno, visiting from Bologna, Italy, came downtown to show a friend the famous bull and found it barricaded behind the demonstrators and the officers standing by. She took it in stride, snapping photos of the gathering.
"Every time I come here, there's somebody here protesting," she said. But, she added, "I think it's a good thing."
Demonstrator Nicholas Powers, who teaches black and feminist literature at SUNY Old Westbury, said that unlike Sunday's protest, the sit-in was less about building consensus and more about confronting the institutions they feel are responsible for stalled political action to reverse global warming.
Dressed in a green wig and superhero outfit, protester Jenna DeBoisblanc said at a rally in a park near Wall Street before the protest that those assembled were expecting arrests at the sit-in.
"I think arrests in particular are a very good way of conveying the gravity of an issue," said DeBoisblanc, an environmental activist from New Orleans. "If you're willing to risk arrest it certainly demonstrates that it's something very urgent."
On Sunday, actors Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly were among the 100,000 estimated protesters. It was one of many demonstrations around the world urging policymakers to take quick action. The Christian Science Monitor's Harry Bruinius described the scene in a report filed from Manhattan yesterday:
The parade began on the west side of Central Park and featured beating drums and dancers from indigenous peoples in Central and South American. They were followed by a cavalcade of union members, including hundreds under the blue United Auto Worker logo, many of whom carried the sign: “Climate change is real: Teach Science.” Thousands more community groups from around the world joined the march, each with identifying banners and political signs and slogans.