Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Past Zuccotti
Shortly earlier than the brand new York Police Division forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Publish spent 24 hours surveying life in their tent metropolis. One month later, with the tents long since slashed open and thrown away and almost every sign of what happened there erased from the park, HuffPost surveyed those same protesters to see whose occupation continues and who has moved on.
However as protesters gear up for Saturday’s “Occupy 2.0” and the three-month anniversary of OWS, they’re also wanting past Zuccotti. And most still say the movement is more than a moment.
‘It isn’t GOING Anyplace’
On a shiny, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with tons of of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond City Hall to Foley Square. Ryan’s 8-12 months-previous daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey Metropolis to take part in the march, organized along with a campaign to encourage people to switch their financial savings from giant financial establishments to group banks and credit unions.
“I want her to see what it’s to be an lively citizen of her country,” Ryan mentioned throughout a fast break. When requested what she thought concerning the march, Mary Jane seemed bashfully at her mother, then at the ground. She did voice her opinions on one other matter, nonetheless, after they resumed walking. “My sock is so annoying,” she stated, yanking at the offending footwear. “It will not keep up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, stalling site visitors. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers stuck their arms out from past tinted home windows and made peace signs.
It was the first protest for Mary Jane, whom her mother calls MJ. “I put everything to her in the only of terms,” Ryan mentioned of her daughter. “I did tell her in regards to the bailouts, and how the common individual is suffering more due to irresponsibility by the banks and our government.” Later within the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at each bank as she marched by.
Little over per week before the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the way forward for Occupy Wall Avenue. “Of course, I hope one thing more tangible comes of it,” she said. “I think we have solely seen the start. It’s not going anywhere, even if they did are available and dismantle the park.”
In the month since police did simply that, slashing tents, trashing books and arresting bus-loads of protesters, Ryan has turn into more involved in OWS. She says she visited the park the morning after the raid to see what was left and found herself galvanized.
Ryan has since joined Occupy Wall Avenue’s “direct action” working group, which currently meets in neighborhood areas and office buildings within a couple of blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters call “Liberty Sq..”
The NYPD raid could have supplied the jolt that Occupy Wall Avenue needed, Ryan stated. A month in the past, she had grown frustrated with what she noticed as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by folks more eager about photo ops than protest. “They made what we had been all enthusiastic about look ridiculous from the skin,” she stated.
With those hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan stated, it has been easier to concentrate on “day of motion” events. Most recently, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as a part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed dwelling.
However for Ryan, those occasions have been fewer and farther between as the vacation season has approached. A contract makeup artist and hair colorist, she still manages to make conferences two or thrice every week during “mother-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week with her father — Ryan used to spend those nights in the park.
“This time last 12 months I was working at a salon for the 1 p.c 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan said in an email Friday. “My previous schedule would not have allowed for this, and who knows how my outdated employer would have responded contemplating the clientele.”
Still, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.0, the subsequent major OWS event, scheduled for Saturday.
“We’re re-occupying,” Ryan stated in an e mail. “I’m glad I did not put my sleeping bag and tent back in storage yet too!”
Ryan mentioned Friday that MJ will probably be attending the new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying children of Occupiers and wearing a beloved T-shirt she made at an artwork station in Zuccotti. It features two scenes, as Ryan describes them: “In the first scene it was the banks stealing our money. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it again and giving it to folks.”
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College OF Exhausting KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are part of the motion extra in thoughts than physique, and have been less focused on protest within the month because the raid on Zuccotti, a key access level for each originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a pupil at Bard Faculty at Simon’s Rock, was a casual Occupier in November. She and her fiance, Hector Acevedo, 22, who studies at John Jay School of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends after they weren’t busy finding out.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Move Your Money protest arrived at Foley Sq.. Tons of of protesters flooded the square, which is normally a deserted public area surrounded by mammoth government buildings, and began an hours-lengthy standoff with police who tried to disperse them.
Uniformed NYPD officers lined up across the street on the steps of the brand new York State Supreme Court building. After a few failed makes an attempt to shoo the protesters away via megaphone — “We don’t desire no one to get hurt!” was the last such warning — police unfurled orange netting and started pushing the crowd, including a HuffPost reporter, back off the sidewalk. Others shoved protesters who resisted.
Within the chaos, the police made an instance of Frias, dragging her, sobbing, up the courthouse steps and cuffing her beneath the words of George Washington etched into its edifice: “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good authorities.”
“I simply need to go back to varsity,” Frias cried as officers walked her again down the steps and beyond the barricade. She asked for help discovering her fiance.
On the Manhattan Criminal Court Building, the place Frias was anticipated to be arraigned, a security officer barred HuffPost from entering. Occupy Wall Avenue protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and at least 21 others, in response to figures later supplied by Moira Meltzer of the National Attorneys Guild. Authorities had the court building on lockdown till the crowd dispersed back to Zuccotti.
According to the courtroom clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, each misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, retains saying over and over, ‘I need to get out of right here,'” her fiance Acevedo told HuffPost that night, back on the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She would not even know what occurred … I’m simply staying right here for the night time, because that is what we had been going to do. If she would not get out tomorrow, I do not know what I am going to do.”
That was the one night Acevedo spent in Zuccotti. Frias spent it in jail. Since then, they’ve had to worry extra about finals, work — Acevedo holds a full-time job — and Frias’ authorized points.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo said in an email. “We’re both nonetheless not completely over all that has happened.” He stated he and Frias couldn’t comment any additional, given the pending court docket decision.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Road. “If anything, it simply made us need to do greater than we already were,” Acevedo mentioned.
In the previous couple of weeks, he has switched majors, from criminal justice to political science.
Massive Issues, Massive Money
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran high. A man who entered the camp’s “information tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about out there bathroom facilities earlier than two Occupy Wall Road organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of the organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and similar confrontations as “plant issues,” or attempts by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Road. More serious cases of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, but Prince and other organizers likewise attributed such issues to malefactors from outdoors the Occupy movement.
Prince himself spent years in what he calls a “thankless job in finance.” Burrowed into his coat on a cold stone bench, he said he had been wanting to say a cause for his personal at the same time that OWS started to obtain donations on a scale that organizers had difficulty processing. Prince, who describes himself as a “rights person,” mentioned he got here to Zuccotti daily in the first week of the occupation and then most days after that.
When he first arrived, he said, a member of the finance committee was protecting $10,000 in money within the park. “I made her go to the bank,” he mentioned, shaking his head. They switched the money to the Amalgamated Bank owned by the Workers United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, said he’s been frustrated by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its growth, although he cited the formation of a “spokes council” as the sign of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we would not be in Iraq proper now if George Bush had to are available entrance of the [GA],” he stated. “But it’s idealistic to think that everyone talking about all the pieces at the same time will get you anywhere.”
On the night of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media crew assembly when he heard screaming, then noticed the thousand-plus police when the NYPD trucks hit the park with their lights.
To prevent such surprises in the future, Prince said he is now developing the OWS Transparency Act, an inside road map for Occupy communications. “Trying to keep abreast of what is going on is a full-time job,” he mentioned. “There should have been ongoing negotiations with the city.”
A secondary objective is to increase transparency around the movement’s working finances, at the moment allocated by a brand new incarnation of the monetary working group that Prince joined early on. It’s now known as the accounting working group, and another member said the NYPD’s destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Avenue, which have risen above $600,000 in complete since September.
Prince also helped arrange last week’s anti-foreclosure day of action, Occupy Our Homes, which some protesters saw as a brand new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Avenue itself look for a new, extra permanent residence.
During the day, nevertheless, he answers to a different boss. Again in early November, Prince stated that he was back in sales and advertising. When requested where, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district however declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn page lists his present occupation as advertising and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc.a non-public coffee company, but it surely doesn’t seem to have been not too long ago updated.
“After all I see the irony, but I am kind of looking to do one thing else,” he mentioned of his time in business, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical large Merck. “I’ve principally averted it in the course of the time I have been in New York. I don’t have a great feeling in regards to the stuff they’ve accomplished.”
Requested in November whether the Occupy movement can survive, Prince mentioned, “Well, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We want an alternate voice.”
In an interview last week, he didn’t hesitate. “There are huge points, big problems,” he mentioned, “and most individuals appear incapable of speaking about it.”
John Friesen has no hassle talking, but he takes a different view. “By its personal actions, the prevailing power structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he stated last week. “These institutions and buildings should be dismantled, and a more humane society have to be constructed from the bottom up.”
As evening settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen started his “community watch” around the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll past a cluster of police officers. In pairs, group watch volunteers would spend a number of hours per night time surveying the park for security considerations, each inner and external. Circling the park, however, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their approach every week later.
Most of the watch volunteers had not been trained for reconnaissance or safety work, though some said at the time that they had been taking mediation courses. Friesen, 27, described himself primarily as an activist from Berkeley, Calif.who had been concerned in protests for years. He hasn’t held a “traditional job” since 2007, Friesen mentioned, but “I’ve become extraordinarily resourceful. I stay more or less without money.”
He stated he had been visiting New York to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 assaults when Occupy Wall Avenue began in earnest, and once he visited Zuccotti, he couldn’t imagine leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated by means of the OWS encampment within the weeks leading up to the police action. While the tents nonetheless stood, Friesen said he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would solely strengthen the Occupy motion.
When it finally began, Friesen was wrapping up a planning assembly in a small park close by for a later Occupy day of action. He and other OWS organizers made it again by means of the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the guts of the park.
“They could not stand the direct critique, the nascent counterpoint of a free society, the explosive expressions of authentic freedom and humanity,” Friesen mentioned of the police. “Though the raid bodily scattered us, it also allows us the chance — compels us, actually — to collect ourselves, re-evaluate and refocus, utilizing the experience of those miraculous months.”
Friesen and lots of different OWS protesters nonetheless spend some days at Zuccotti, while at evening they stick with hosts all through the town. But he says he and different organizers have grow to be more eager about actions that they consider can have a extra direct influence, such Occupy Our Homes and a march to Goldman Sachs’ New York places of work in solidarity with sister protests out west.
Friesen believes that many OWS protesters have been freed as much as participate in more actions, now that they’re not obliged to worry about maintaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re trying to succeed in out to marginalized communities that we haven’t but handed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the volume.”
One a part of maintaining the camp consisted of maintaining order and good behavior. An indication headed “Good Neighbor Coverage,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS guidelines:
“Following respectful and good faith dialogue / zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol anywhere in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of personal or public property.”
Round midnight following the Transfer Your Money march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a sport of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, 51, read beneath a streetlamp close by.
Sharkey has been many things, including a musician — “it’s schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and half James Brown” — and a writer. A local New Yorker, he obtained concerned in OWS after he saw the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the primary OWS event that basically obtained his consideration. Before that, he says, “I thought it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, finding it harder and harder to return home to Long Island to sleep or shower. In the park, “even the younger kids are knowledgeable,” he mentioned, “and you actually study from individuals when you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey said, “I believe I’ll be residing here the remainder of my life.”
Even the police stationed alongside the sting of the park supplied lessons. Up the sidewalk from where Sharkey was studying, NYPD Officer Solar talked casually with a member of OWS. Each said such chats have been widespread in the course of the principally-quiet night time hours.
Sun mentioned he and different police acknowledged the frustrations of Occupiers. “It’s like they’ve $100 invoice in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he said as he gazed around the monetary district. “We get it.”
At the time of the raid, nevertheless, Sharkey had made one in all his infrequent trips house. Since then, he is been in Florida visiting his two younger daughters and largely “out of contact” with the movement. But Sharkey has never considered OWS by way of weeks or months. “I think it is lengthy-term, not a ‘this yr’ or a ‘2012 election’ thing,” he said in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters ought to foyer members of Congress and maybe form a 3rd party. “The response because the raid has been to re-evaluate the motion and try to determine the best way to increase assist from the American individuals.”
In an e mail, Sharkey mentioned he was still decided to fight for the rights of all Individuals, including those he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are caught within the sand ready for everything to be calm and blissful.”
Conserving THE Motion ALIVE
Zuccotti is sort of as quiet within the early hours because it was on that chilly morning in early November when the medical tents that marked an early victory for Occupy Wall Avenue were nonetheless standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a trained nurse with a bullring in his nose and a stethoscope around his neck, described his role within the Occupy Wall Road medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Cost.”
His mission, he stated, was simple: “make certain people stay alive.”
“It’s not our accountability to give you all the pieces you need,” he added. “It’s our responsibility to ensure this movement goes on.”
Kostora, who is also a photojournalist, was on a 5-month cross-continental street trip with his canine, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling financial savings and whatever his guitar could earn him when mates at house in New Mexico informed him he ought to check out what was happening in New York.
In Montreal on the time, he headed south, intending to remain a few nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, however the weeks passed rapidly. “Time stone island mens cheap will get clumped here,” he stated.
While on watch, he swapped war stories with the opposite medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs the place they’d each day rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore pink crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the larger crosses on the tents.
In a case that remains to be recent in Kostora’s thoughts, a patient got here in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a effectively-executed barbecue,” mentioned Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We’ve had a couple of coronary heart assaults, saved a number of lives,” mentioned Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “avenue medic.” Even supposing Dade was more than just a few years away from a medical degree, patients didn’t hold that in opposition to her. “There are a lot of people who come to see us who have not seen a physician in years,” she stated, “who would not be cared for in any other case.”
At the other end of the spectrum, retired New York physician David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical faculty decades earlier than Dade was born. Stead came all the way down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the information, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical workforce.
“I simply imagine within the cause,” he said. “I believe there ought to be extra equity and distribution of money, and extra well being care for anybody. It must be something individuals ought to have the ability to expect, as a result of the U.S. actually has the cash.”
The evening of the raid, Kostora was visiting a bathroom away from the park when riot police started to advance. He barely made it again to the medical tents, the place one patient was being treated and one other protester with coronary heart issues was in search of safety.
In keeping with Kostora, police dragged him and the lady with coronary heart issues across the street and threw them to the bottom. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the other patient, at the same time as cops slashed open the medical tents, he said.
“I went up to every excessive-rating officer I might find and told them we now have patients in there, now we have medical information in there, and they can’t — it’s illegal for them to enter with no court order, and they just ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
Since the raid, Kostora has centered on “rebuilding.” His workforce has been making the rounds to sites all through the town where Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they will debut 4 “cellular clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical gear that the staff can use during demonstrations. Other plans are in improvement for a extra everlasting, registered clinic “that will supply free well being care to everybody, 100 %,” and a medical remark crew, at present looking for volunteers, that will attend protests to reply to — and doc — protesters’ injuries.
On the whole, “I feel that the management within the Occupy movement is beginning to come back out,” Kostora said. “We do not have a park to handle anymore, so now we will really focus on the place we take the motion.”
But Kostora stated Friday that he is kind of run through his savings, now counting on OWS meals and the generosity of pals. “I don’t actually require a lot,” he mentioned, “besides pet food.”
He is been searching for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical workforce is a full-time position.
“Do not suppose I am going again to New Mexico soon,” Kostora added, “or anywhere for that matter. I am too deep.”
‘People AREN’T GOING TO Stop’
Throughout from the medical tents, at the guts of the park, was the individuals’s kitchen, run virtually solely on a formidable stockpile of donated provides and a few money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed 1000’s every day, said volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, back in November, seated on an overturned bucket within the kitchen while a big man — “Just Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, child” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black rapidly turned enmeshed in Occupy Wall Street after seeing the same studies of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on name across the clock to make deliveries throughout the tri-state space — “Basically, I simply hearken to NPR all day,” he said — but had been in a position to spend most subsequent nights in the park.
“I went from, ‘I am gonna keep the evening’ to ‘I’m gonna dwell here,'” he mentioned.
Earlier than the raid, O’Black said he believed the Zuccotti encampment was there to remain. When it was destroyed, he and his fellow marchers had just arrived at Occupy Philadelphia, en route to Washington, D.C, and so they spent the rest of the night watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would happen finally,” O’Black stated. “The state responds to any threat with violence. We can see this repeating all through modern history.”
Once the marchers accomplished their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some prolonged their route another roughly seven hundred miles to Atlanta.
In the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy sites, a few of these protesters took the raid as a challenge, pledging to “occupy the highway” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, nonetheless, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken part in Occupy Our Houses and different “day of action” events.
“My function within the park now is very similar,” he said final week. “I still work, delivering clothing and food to these in need. We simply haven’t got a home base right now.”
Wherever it eventually goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy movement will endure. “Individuals aren’t going to cease being upset about the present state of affairs on this country,” he mentioned, echoing his name to motion from a month earlier: “Why would you presumably sit there and let things get worse
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