The echo from the sound bouncing off of the courthouse across the street made locating the speaker difficult for most, as thousands of people moved around Foley Square. At first look, there were almost as many causes as there were people, as it should be. Some were personal: “I lost my scholarship because I smoke cannabis”, advocating either legalization of marijuana or less stringent rules placed on retaining a scholarship; the advocate was wearing a worn in, pin stripe suit.

There were brass bands appearing suddenly in the few open spaces between the protesters, rousing their surroundings with chants and then moving off with osmosis into another corner of the park. Further along, there were many more serious groups, “No Human Is Illegal”, “Citigroup — Fraud”, “Shelters for people with AIDS not tax shelters”, a sea of Transit Worker’s Union signs who among with a myriad other unions have buoyed or rose together with the Occupy Wall Street protest. Some signs left wanting more: “Tax Wall Street”, since the sector of industry that  phrase represents does generally get taxed, so that’s an over statement. Is it enough and is it being spent with any sense or accountability at all, is the implied question, presumably.

There was a frightening effigy with a price tag that read: “Stop the 1% from murdering America and the rest of the world”. Finally, the source of the speeches became apparent at the base of a sculpture. He was using a giant megaphone that looked like it had seen action in the 60s. All the way across the park, the courthouse loomed and on its frieze, the letters were clear: “True Administration Of Justice Is The Firmest Pillar Of Good Government”. What the statement lacked in humor, it made up for in size and use of all caps.

The speaker from the Transit Worker’s Union just took the stage and made a well delivered, short speech to thank those who came. He also expressed support for not eliminating jobs, keeping the retirement plans as previously agreed, and for the Occupy Wall Street movement for sparking this gathering, the show of force. He ended the speech announcing that it’s time to start the march on Wall St., so the drums furiously rolled, while the chants like: “Wall Street – Our Street” crescendoed to mark the beginning of movement.

Understandably, any movement with thousands of unscripted individuals is going to have a few fits and starts and predictably, the promised march started with a half hour wait while the police rearranged the barricades, the protesters rearranged their signs, the helicopters buzzed wearily, with the different groups arranging and merged into a procession. If anything, it is the messiness and the variety of opinion that is the positive truth behind this protest and what has been going on in various forms at Liberty Square / Occupy Wall Street. People were there not with a specific demand they expected to resolve and then go home, they were there to just speak, yell and dance about it, start the conversation and see what others like them were saying. And those others? Typical for any decent New York gathering, the group was hardly alike from one individual to another, rather more like taking the 7 train on a busy afternoon, every variety of what it means to be human was there. For a while, I was in a contingent where the average age was likely to be above 45, some sagely remarking on comparisons between this and those other protests. A rabbi was having a gamely conversation about human compassion with a younger group, tattoos, faces painted, faces illuminated. There was a topless woman with a painted mustache, waving a flag, repeating the last echoes of the speaker’s words as a human microphone.

A young man jumped on a traffic sign pole, and inched higher and higher using the one-way direction signs as straps, no doubt about to do something supremely heroic, while hundreds of cameras, large, tiny, or attached to heads with a strap, wielded like a bazooka turned around and scanned for a moment to capture.  As he attempted to unfurl the cardboard sign he brought up while simultaneously, precariously balancing to stay up, voices from the crowd started up, softly at first: “Get down”, to each other: “What the fuck is he doing?”, “Did no one read the literature?”, “This is exactly what we don’t want to do”, then quickly, louder: “Get Down, Get DOWN, DOWN”. A part of the sign was now visible with the word “Pigs” on it and a lower half crude drawing of a cartoon pig, almost unanimous murmurs from the near by crowd: “Oh fo fuck’s sake, that’s the stupid shit he went up there to show, idiot”, the crowd was serious, some may have expressed their humor and added lightness with their signs (the de rigueur joke about Chris Christie’s weight applied as a resolution to the deficit — stop feeding him), but they were there to be heard. The young man failed to adhere to the organizer’s tenet that everyone be peaceful, everyone be non-destructive, as everyone in general was. It is difficult to imagine a gathering of thousands of people within which one didn’t feel stifled or claustrophobic, at any moment one could exit from the side or even salmon back to catch up with friends; try doing the same in a rock club and you’ll find that not every crowd is equal and some, by their nature, demand to be taken a lot more seriously.

The march continued down Center St., past an imposing building that announced the years of the formation of New Amsterdam, Manhattan and New York and then past Tweed Courthouse. It was like an architectural tour of the powerful structures, the waves of protest voices bouncing off the buildings, some so sharp it seemed as if they were the sound’s origin.  ”Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out” and “Wall Street – Our Street” were two of the more predominant slogans. The former is interesting as most of the bail outs have been paid in 2008-09 and have been since repaid by the banks, however the anger about that is only now percolating.

Probably a useful thing to remember is that the premise back then was that this money will most definitely trickle right on down to all, however practically most saw none of that. Devalued retirement funds that were entrusted in triple A-rated hands, popular lore proved to be about as trustworthy as luxury items sold on Canal St., a few blocks north.

And thus with dignity, the march reached its goal: Liberty Square / Zuccotti Park, where the nightly 7PM General Assemblies were already gathering amid the spilling crowds. The People’s Library, off to the side, was offering reading material from novels to anarchist interviews, public participation pamphlets and legal text books, and the food was being prepared and distributed as the movement continued.

For a quick glimpse at a smaller and more active protest (the main slogan there was “Fuck Wall Street!”) that took place after 8PM watch Adrien Chan’s footage that was captured across from the Cipriani Wall Street,  with it’s balcony of corralled sneering patrons, most of whom likely wouldn’t place themselves as a cause for the ire, providing an eerily theatrical hue (he who laughs last  etc.). CBS local reports that 28 people were arrested.