Shortly before 3 AM on Wednesday, several hundred protesters gathered in the plaza directly east of City Hall Park in downtown Manhattan. A few were new faces, but many had been there on and off for a week, when activists set up an encampment and declared that they were occupying the space as part of the nationwide movement against racism and policing.
The protesters had a lot going against them. Less than 24 hours earlier, the New York Police Department had staged a violent raid at the outskirts of the encampment, injuring several people. And just hours before, those in the encampment watched as local legislators, while negotiating and voting on the city budget for the next fiscal year, brushed off their calls to defund the police.
Yet energy was high among this early morning crowd. They knew what fight they had signed up for, and, having accomplished something as remarkable as a weeklong protest encampment, they were ready to keep the momentum going. The question was, what were they to do next?