FDL Book Salon Welcomes Will Bunch, October 1, 2011: The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]
Host, Lindsay Beyerstein:
The Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge tells the story of a pivotal event in the history of Occupy Wall Street. On Oct. 1, hundreds of protesters marched from occupied Zuccotti Park towards the Brooklyn Bridge. The official plan was to have a picnic on the other side of the river.
The police allowed the protesters to surge onto the bridge and then proceeded to corral them in nets and arrest them by the hundreds.
Bunch tells the story of the bridge through the eyes of several vividly drawn characters: A 19-year-old veteran street protester with working class roots and a genius for escaping arrest; a 69-year-old retired lawyer who showed up on impulse after being moved by a play about the final day of Martin Luther King’s life; a painfully shy theater tech who found the movement online; a self-styled branding expert/saxophonist; and a 24-year-old Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union, drowning in student debt.
Bunch paints a colorful picture of life in occupied Zuccotti Park, a thriving community with a food distribution program, a library, and a first aid center. Tents are against park rules, so residents huddle together in sleeping bags nicknamed “soggy burritos.”
The Brooklyn Bridge held great symbolic and tactical importance for Occupy Wall Street. By marching to Brooklyn, OWS hoped to establish a toehold in New York’s most populous borough, which is home to a more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse population than Lower Manhattan. The bridge itself is a icon of freedom and a source of civic pride. To walk across that bridge in peaceful protest is a powerfully symbolic act. [cont’d.]
Most of the marchers never reached Brooklyn, but the mass arrests on the bridge made the front pages of papers around the country. The experience of mass arrest galvanized casual supporters into hardcore activists.
Bunch even solves the mystery of the arrest of the young woman in the Invader Zim hat, who became the subject of a famous photograph. Suffice it to say that her arrest came about as a result of some tactically brilliant 21st century parenting.
Will Bunch is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, a senior writer for the Philadelphia Daily News and blogger at Attytood, a fellow at Media Matters for America, and the author of several books.
We are honored to have him with us today to discuss his latest book, available as a Kindle Single through Amazon.com. It is the first book to be written about the Occupy Wall Street movement.