He continues, in fragments, to say: “A lot of us are marching today. We need to be safe. We ask that no one break the rules. No one is allowed to go on the street. We ask that no one starts a riot.”
“Don’t even say the word riot!” someone in the media area shouts from behind me.
Phillips continues, “Today, Glenn Beck’s followers threatened to kill us. This is a serious issue.”
“No it isn’t!” a voice from the back shouts. “You’re so stupid. Don’t spread this. It’s not worthy of our attention.”
“Dude, at least approve the message before you say something. Seriously. Seriously,” another voice says.
Lopez sticks up for Phillips, “People have to know that people threatened us. It is our right as media to tell them.”
I turn to a man named Justin Wedes, who looks at me and says “just working stuff out” and laughs. He seems to be the only person so far to recognize the name Columbia Journalism Review. Turns out, Craig Silverman wrote about him in a post for CJR, after he concocted a fake press release, and it got picked up by the AP as a real story.
He described the media center as the brain of the camp, “It’s like an information switchboard.” The distrust of mainstream news is another bonding force at Occupy, strengthening the commitment of people here to make sure they counter any messages which brush them off. “We film fox filming us,” he said. “Don’t try to spin it cause we’re watching. The media is here for the self-documentation process.”
The volume level began to slowly rise as the scheduled march began, so I jumped into the fray, walking along side a man name Joseph Wade, an ex-military guy, who is attending Brooklyn College for creative writing and journalism. He started a blog to document these protests, and he’s one of an unknown number of bloggers who have devoted their time to Occupy Wall Street. Another guy I met, named Matt, was there trying to recruit photographers for his venture, Feed the Protest, his attempt at an “accountability portal” for police officers behaving badly. He hopes to collect and tag photos of cops, and organize them into a searchable database. As I am walking, I also meet Mark Yerdas, who is with his young daughter Zora. He said he makes documentary films, and decided to take a train to New York City to make a video diary called This is This, which will document his time here and in Washington, DC at a protest called October 2011.
The crowd quickly started swelling, and I was in the midst of what seemed like 10,000 people. The sea of bodies seemed to have no end and no beginning. Everywhere I looked there were cameras and phones drawn. For a while I didn’t see any members of the media team, but the next day there was a post on YouTube of the “media team” in the back of a police paddy wagon, yet I do not recognize anyone in the video.
After being stuck near a gated off section for about 30 minutes, I had decided to leave, but as I was trying to make my way out, I spotted Todd Graham. He moved through the crowd, headphones on, boom mic on an extender. After saying a quick hello I lost him, his microphone moving with the signs, towards city hall.