On Thursday, a data entry specialist, high-end eyeglass saleswoman, disabled U.S. Army veteran and seven other defendants walked into a New York City courtroom.Hours later, they walked out not guilty. The reason why, however, is more surprising than you might thing.
As The Indypendent co-founder and executive editor turned-defendant John Tarleton told Waging Nonviolence, “We fought the law and we won.”
The “Flood Wall Street 10,” as they’re known, were arrested at the tail end of a momentous (three-day) weekend for the climate movement. The day before, on September 21, an estimated 410,000 people had gathered on the edge of Central Park for the People’s Climate March. Separated out into massive blocs, marchers represented the various constituencies affected by the climate crisis – namely, everyone: students, labor, faith groups, scientists and more.
Leading the march off was a massive contingent entitled “Frontlines of Crisis, Forefront of Change,” communities and organizations dealing with and resisting the worst impacts of climate change and extraction. Many work with the Climate Justice Alliance, some taking the subway from Far Rockaway, Queens and others trekking in from the Bay Area and Black Mesa, Arizona. As I wrote in September, the People’s Climate March represented a shift in the movement’s mainstream narrative: taking leadership from the frontlines, and naming, in one way or another, capitalism as the problem.
The next day, Flood Wall Street – organized largely by veterans of Occupy Wall Street – sought to drive that message home. The idea was to quite literally “flood” New York’s financial mecca with protesters wearing blue, sending a defiant message to the bankers and hedge fund managers that have driven the country and world headfirst into ecological and economic catastrophe. Full blocks of blue-clad demonstrators could be heard singing, in near unison, “I hear the voice of my great grand-daughter saying shut down Wall Street now.”