Just when you thought Occupy Wall Street had gone away, they resurface.
Last night's Presidential debate at Hofstra University on Long Island was the target of a protest called "Occupy The Debate."
We spotted the invitation over the weekend and thought it might be interesting to ride along with the OWS crew to the debate.
Occupy The Debate Bus 2012 would like to invite comrades to catch a ride to the Debate. The buses will be departing from NYC at 3pm sharp on Oct 16th. Full details on pick up location will be in your confirmation email.
We had a embedded a reporter on the bus... What should have been a 45min-1 hour bus ride from Midtown Manhattan to Hofstra University on Long Island actually took closer to 3 hours.
Here's a brief timeline of the events:
2:45-- 3:00pm Assemble and board the bus - "Departure was slated for 3pm Sharp!"
3:30pm -- The buses finally start moving (despite being full since 3:15)
3:35pm -- The first whiff of marijuana is smelled. -- The man seated directly in front of me was smoking and drinking beer during the entire trip. I put his consumption at five joints and two 24-oz beers on the way to the debate. "Anthony" told me that he was from the area and only recently returned from a 3-year stint in the US Army as a paratrooper.
4:00pm -- After a slow trip across town, the buses exit Manhattan for Long Island
4:20pm -- Stuck in rush hour traffic, Occupiers continue a non-stop party of smoking pot, and drinking vodka and beer. (The vodka was a 1/2 gallon bottle being passed around. More than one bottle was thrown from the bus, into traffic on the Long Island Expressway)
4:30pm -- Snacks are passed out. Boxes with water, a banana, and a cookie.
4:30--5:30pm - Training and Information -- Occupiers compare stories on how many times each of them has been arrested... this was all part of the training for the event. Many folks actually wrote the phone number for Legal Aid on their arms. (For the record, a young woman nicknamed "Sarge" lay claim to the Most-Arrested title --- she's been handcuffed and locked up ten different times. This "accomplishment" was cheered loudly.)
Information on upcoming "Direct Actions" was also shared. For example, there is a "Tuition Tear-In" slated for Thursday 10-18. Students will be encouraged to tear up their college tuition bills and student loan papers. (The OWS crowd thinks all college should be free.)
5:30pm -- Meet the police! -- After two hours on the bus, we were within a few miles of Hempstead, NY where the debate was happening. And then we encountered the Nassau County Police. The buses were pulled over by a group of marked and unmarked cars. Our driver was told that we would be directed to a designated protest area. That spot was about a mile and a half from the arena where the event was happening. The Occupiers were not pleased. They actually expected to be able to get within earshot of the candidates. It is doubtful that we were in the same zip code.
During the ride and the brief protest outside a McDonalds over a mile from the debate location (the bus had to leave by 7pm), we witnessed the following:
The bus was scheduled to leave Long Island and return to NYC at 7pm. The Occupiers had just over an hour to march around, chant and hold up their signs. TheBlaze chose not to join the OWS crew on the trip back to the city. Instead, we stayed and chronicled some of the other "protests" going on outside of the debate location. Stay tuned for those photos.