By the time marchers reached the staging area for the May Day ‘Wildcat March,’ many had already come a long way. Occupy Bushwick had marched all the way from Maria Hernandez Park, joining with Occupy Williamsburg to the west and crossing the Williamsburg Bridge in an action they called the ‘Morning Commute.’ They, along with other groups, converged on Sara D. Roosevelt Park near 2nd Avenue and East Houston to take part in an unpermitted march, supposedly to Washington Square or Union Square Park. But anyone showing up after the march’s planned start at 1 PM might have taken the drum circle and heavy police presence as a sign that things had stalled out, or quieted for good.
They didn’t have to wait long. Around 1:30, a group of black blockers, dressed in black with faces obscured, moved as a group to the corner of Forsyth Street and Houston and attempted to force their way eastward. They were met by a wall of police, and the standoff quickly devolved into a shoving match. Arrests followed, as police were able to separate a few members of the black bloc from the heaving collective.
But it was only a distraction. With the NYPD’s attention focused on the street-corner brawl, another group of black blockers at the rear of the protest started sprinting southward through the park, towards Chinatown. The crowd followed, and the mass of protesters broke free of the police presence on Houston.
Taking over the street, the column — led by faceless, black-clad marchers — progressed south past Delancey and west on Grand Street, past bemused and onlooking residents of Chinatown and Little Italy. When the police finally caught up with the rear of the march, some of the protestors took to scattering garbage bags, trash cans, and newspaper dispensers in the street to slow traffic — which approaching police, on foot, cleared to make way for vehicles. One marcher threw a bottle filled with what appeared to be black paint or ink at the window of a shoe store, but the window didn’t break.
By the time the marchers started heading north, through the narrow streets of SoHo, police had organized a response. A flying column of NYPD mopeds came from the rear at speed, forcing many of the protesters off the street and onto the sidewalk. Some at the front, however, refused to move. The marchers crossed Houston, moving closer to Washington Square, their original target
On the corner of West 3rd and LaGuardia Place, one of the police mopeds pursuing the remaining core of marchers fell over, pinning its rider underneath. The marchers erupted in cheers; police quickly acted to right the fallen officer and his vehicle, and prevented the demonstrators from taking pictures.
As protesters reached the entrance to Washington Square Park, a confrontation at the corner MacDougal and 4th led to the last wave of arrests. The majority of the marchers had made it to their destination unscathed. They made preparations to hold a General Assembly; later, they marched again, continuing to the mass 4 PM convergence in Union Square.