A truly amazing scene unfolded at Lincoln Center late on Thursday night as Philip Glass’ opera “Satyagraha” let out and the crowd filtered from the Metropolitan Opera House. People from Occupy Wall Street stood at the bottom of the steps below Lincoln Center’s central plaza imploring the crowd leaving the opera to come join them. Satyagraha is about Gandhi’s early struggles against oppressive colonialism in South Africa, and the protesters wanted the people who had seen the opera to live the opera.

Police were encouraging the crowd to keep away from the protesters. They also appeared to be arresting people. New Yorker music critic Alex Ross was in the crowd filming the moment, and we’ve posted the video below. Ross also tweeted that Lou Reed got involved, even helping a protester get over a barricade. As Ross wrote on twitter: “At one point I watched Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson help a guy crawl over the barricade. Police didn’t seem to know quite how to respond.”

Here’s how Ross described the dynamics between the opera crowd, the police and the protesters on his blog:

“When the Satyagraha listeners emerged from the Met, police directed them to leave via side exits, but protesters began encouraging them to disregard the police, walk down the steps, and listen to Glass speak. Hesitantly at first, then in a wave, they did so.”

These are some of the things the crowd was yelling at the departing operagoers to convince them to join the protest:

“What would Gandhi do! It’s a real live play!”

“Your life is the play! Your life is the opera! Satyagraha!”

“Join us! Climb down the stairs!”

“You have the right to come down the stairs!”

“Be strong be strong.”

“Come join us! This is public property!”

And then Philip Glass, the brilliant composer who wrote the opera, made a statement that was broadcast throughout the crowd by the group, which repeated each line. He made the statement, which is a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, three times:

“When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again.”


Check out two videos of the event below:

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