Occupy Wall Street organized a “Day of Action” on Nov. 17, which included calling on protesters to convene at 16 different subway stops citywide, three of them in Queens, before meeting near City Hall and marching to the Brooklyn Bridge.
The event marked two months to the day since the protest first began in Zuccotti Park, and was the first time the Manhattan-based movement called on protesters to head to the boroughs.
By day’s end, over 200 people were arrested in Manhattan, according to published reports, many in an attempt to re-occupy Zuccotti Park, which the police cleared of protesters days earlier.
As part of the “Day of Action” in Queens, “Occupy the Subway” groups met at the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue subway transit hub, as well as subway stops at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave. and Jamaica Center at 3 p.m.
At the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Avenue subway hub, protesters gathered outside the station, handing out fliers for an Occupy Queens meeting the next day.
Occupy Queens is not directly governed by the Occupy Wall Street movement — which communicates via its website and social media — and has emerged in the borough in recent weeks.
The protesters in Jackson Heights blocked the sidewalk but were willing to make room when the police requested them to.
Michelle Cheikin, a Queens resident and photography teacher at Hostos Community College, was one of several in the crowd passing out Occupy Queens fliers. She said she was happy the movement had come to Queens.
“Queens I think represents a lot of the 99 percent,” Cheikin said, noting that the borough is diverse and full of working-class people. “By reaching out to the borough, hopefully we can get a broader range of people interested.”
Cheikin said this diversity would be a welcome addition to the movement, thus far mostly championed by “educated kids.”
Alan Lewandowski, a Sunnyside resident also present at the rally, said he wanted to take part in the day’s events because he was frustrated with the government’s financial policies.
“It’s just very obvious to me that business as usual has totally screwed up,” Lewandowski said.
After a half-hour of chanting and rallying, the crowd moved into the subway station. They marched to the R train platform, followed by police, and eventually boarded the train for Manhattan.
The next day, Occupy Queens held a meeting in Jackson Heights. It was the second “general assembly” meeting held by the organization, which was established by Jackson Heights resident Whitey Flagg.
Flagg said he believes community-based organizations are the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which many are predicting will fizzle out, at least in Manhattan, as a result of the coming cold weather and the most recent clashes with police.
“The amount of the population that can camp out or is even capable of doing that” represents “less than 1 percent” of New York, Flagg noted.
Flagg, who works full-time himself, said Occupy Queens would focus on issues people who have thus far attended the meetings care about most, including immigrant rights.
The point, he said, is not necessarily to protest, but for people “to realize that their voice does matter.