If the goals of the Occupy Wall Street movement were blurry before, at Borough Hall on Thursday afternoon, dozens of enthusiastic protesters and non-protesters alike aimed to add some clarity.
"I want to encourage, we'd like to encourage, anyone to come up and tell us why they're here," said one organizer Noah Fischer. The Occupy Wall Street general assembly operates under what's called the "progressive stack," which allows for the voices of "marginalized" people to be heard. A list is kept of the people in attendance who want to speak.
Individuals from all over the city told their personal stories and words of hope, their concerns and fears, using the "human microphone" that has become the way the movement amplifies each others voices and ideas.
"I feel proud to take part in this revolution," said Maria Maisonet from East New York, her words repeated by the crowd for all to hear. "They claim we don't love America, that we're lazy. But I love America and that's why I'm gonna be arrested tonight!"
While there were reports of arrests and some violence across the bridge, in Brooklyn police stood behind the crowd, respectfully. There were no arrests and no altercations.
The Occupy Wall Street movement, while largely focused on economic inequality, has embraced groups that are working for social justice, public education, transgender rights and much more. Many of those that spoke at Borough Hall were alerting those in attendance to the causes they fight for.
Lloyd Carew-Reid, another supporter, though a first timer in speaking at an Occupy meet-up, referred to the protesters first amendment rights to occupy Zuccotti Park.
"Public spaces are what define a democracy," he said. "If we are not able to be spontaneous in a public space how can we have a democracy?"
Representatives of other organizations that advocate for non-violence and freedom of speech were also in attendance. Jaki Florsheim from Brooklyn for Peace spoke, as did Susan Bernofsky of the Pen American Center.
But there was still some reluctance by others to join the movement.
"I can definitely understand where the movement's coming from," said Darby Masland from Williamsburg. "I support getting the idea out, it's clearly something that needs to be said."
"But i'm not 100 percent sure of the tactics," she added.
The group peacefully left Borough Hall and headed into Manhattan for the large meet-up at Foley Square. In what can only be called a generous gesture, those with rides on their MetroCards donated swipes to those that needed one.