Thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters marched their movement across a large swath of Lower Manhattan Thursday morning and afternoon.
They left their home base of Zuccotti Park in early afternoon after storming Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, then made their way through TriBeca, SoHo and parts of Greenwich Village before arriving at Union Square.
They led a procession straight up Broadway in the cold November rain, starting out as a single column marching up the west side of the street and accompanied by a single-file column of officers in raincoats and perched atop mo-peds, and branching out to both sides of the street when the reached Canal Street.
As the troupe made their way up the Great White Way, they exhorted onlookers to join them in their mission to raise awareness about inequality in America, chanting you are the 99 percent and come with us.
As they marched past City Hall, they egged Mayor Michael Bloomberg on, chanting Bloomberg must go and other slogans, while police continued to keep them confined to the west side of Broadway. Most bystanders in this stretch of town seemed annoyed or shocked by the display, and the protesters seemed tense and nervous, repeatedly screaming, stay together, slow down!
But when the parade arrived at Canal Street, there was a palpable change in attitude, and dozens of civilians could be seen waving white flags out of windows, waving to marchers and standing on fire escapes in solidarity with the movement.
As the protesters made their way through SoHo, playing a constant droning drumbeat and repeating their call-to-arms, We are the 99 percent, people on the street began to interact with them, cheering them on, waving and taking photographs. Even drivers stuck in the horrendous traffic the marchers were creating waved peace signs and thumbs-ups out their windows and honked in support of the group.
This is the real Occupy Wall Street, a man told his young daughter as the procession passed them by. This is a big deal.
When the group got to Houston, they ignored traffic signals, as did the police who walked alongside them the whole way without incident, and traffic stopped on the busy cross-street while they passed.
They eventually arrived in Union Square, where they met up with about a thousand college students who walked out of classes to join up with the movement for the last several hours of its Day of Action. From there they were headed to Foley Square, where the fun was sure to continue.