On Saturday, July 5th, the Occupy GuitArmy left the National Gathering of the Occupy movement in Philadelphia, walking. The group’s 99 Mile March to Liberty Plaza in New York City was launched to commemorate Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday (which was July 14th) and in celebration of the National Gathering of the Occupy movement.
The GuitArmy is a large group of occupiers, musicians, activists and allies who use their guitars, mandolins, ukuleles and other instruments to support Occupy Wall Street. The GuitArmy originally came into being for this year’s May Day, when the group, led by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, marched from Bryant Park to Union Square.
With over 60 participants along the way, the group’s march culminated on Wednesday, July 11th in New York when they arrived at Liberty Plaza, greeted by hundreds of supporters in a vibrant reminder what the park was like before the violent NYPD eviction of Occupy Wall Street on November 15th.
The police instigated a conflict shortly after the GuitArmy arrived in Liberty Plaza, with an officer arresting drummer, Brandon Hunt, when he did not exit the park as quickly as the officer wanted. The police also arrested a cameraman, seemingly for filming a public action.
One protester, Mary Hath Spokane, collapsed in the park. The FDNY later claimed she had fainted. Spokane is familiar to many Occupiers as the protester who walks around dressed like Lady Liberty.
Later, the police caused more conflict when they attempted to stop distribution of food in the park. Local residents and workers frequently eat in the park, often from food carts selling food on the south side of the park and across the street on Broadway. The police backed off when the food-servers resisted their order to stop serving, avoiding a larger conflict.
The GuitArmy left Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell on July 5th after singing a rendition of Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The group faced hassles from the beginning, including being denied access to water in the Quaker Compound they inhabited in Philladelphia. Occupied Stories reported that Trinity Church, in Princeton, NJ, who had originally agreed to house the Occupiers overnight during their sojourn, reneged the offer after the GutiArmy arrived because of complaints from neighbors and police visits to the property.
Four protestors were arrested during the action. Their names are Brendan Hunt (28, resisting arrest, trespassing, and disorderly conduct); Paul Talbot (30, obstruction of governmental administration); Jacob Roszak (23, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest); Gregory Adsulf (49, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest). Marsha Spencer, a NYC-resident who often knits in Zuccotti Park since the September occupation, was forced to leave the park by the NYPD, who were unable to explain to her why she was not allowed to have her folding chair in the park.
(originally aired in tv form at Occupy Public Access TV)