Occupy 2.Zero: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Past Zuccotti
Shortly earlier than the brand new York Police Department forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Avenue protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Post spent 24 hours surveying life of their tent metropolis. One month later, with the tents long since slashed open and thrown away and virtually each sign of what happened there erased from the park, HuffPost surveyed those self same protesters to see whose occupation continues and who has moved on.
But as protesters gear up for Saturday’s “Occupy 2.Zero” and the three-month anniversary of OWS, they’re additionally looking past Zuccotti. And most nonetheless say the movement is greater than a moment.
‘It is not GOING Wherever’
On a vivid, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with a whole bunch of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, past Metropolis Hall to Foley Square. Ryan’s 8-12 months-old daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey City to participate within the march, organized in conjunction with a marketing campaign to encourage individuals to transfer their financial savings from massive financial establishments to community banks and credit score unions.
“I want her to see what it is to be an lively citizen of her nation,” Ryan said during a quick break. When asked what she thought in regards to the march, Mary Jane appeared bashfully at her mom, then at the bottom. She did voice her opinions on another matter, however, once they resumed strolling. “My sock is so annoying,” she mentioned, yanking on the offending footwear. “It will not stay up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of decrease Manhattan, stalling traffic. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers caught their hands out from beyond tinted home windows and made peace indicators.
It was the first protest for Mary Jane, whom her mom calls MJ. “I put every thing to her in the best of phrases,” Ryan said of her daughter. “I did tell her in regards to the bailouts, and how the typical person is suffering extra resulting from irresponsibility by the banks and our government.” Later in the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at each financial institution as she marched by.
Little over every week earlier than the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the future of Occupy Wall Avenue. “Of course, I hope something more tangible comes of it,” she stated. “I think we have only seen the beginning. It’s not going wherever, even if they did are available in and dismantle the park.”
In the month since police did just that, slashing tents, trashing books and arresting bus-a great deal of protesters, Ryan has change into extra concerned in OWS. She says she visited the park the morning after the raid to see what was left and located herself galvanized.
Ryan has since joined Occupy Wall Avenue’s “direct action” working group, which presently meets in community spaces and workplace buildings within just a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and different protesters call “Liberty Sq..”
The NYPD raid may have provided the jolt that Occupy Wall Street needed, Ryan mentioned. A month ago, she had grown pissed off with what she saw as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by folks more taken with photograph ops than protest. “They made what we have been all captivated with look ridiculous from the outside,” she stated.
With these hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan said, it has been easier to give attention to “day of action” occasions. Most just lately, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as a part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed dwelling.
But for Ryan, these events have been fewer and farther between as the vacation season has approached. A contract make-up artist and hair colorist, she nonetheless manages to make meetings two or 3 times per week during “mom-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week with her father — Ryan used to spend those nights in the park.
“This time final yr I was working at a salon for the 1 percent 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan said in an e-mail Friday. “My old schedule wouldn’t have allowed for this, and who is aware of how my outdated employer would have responded contemplating the clientele.”
Still, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.0, the following main OWS occasion, scheduled for Saturday.
“We’re re-occupying,” Ryan stated in an e-mail. “I am glad I didn’t put my sleeping bag and tent back in storage but too!”
Ryan stated Friday that MJ will probably be attending the new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying children of Occupiers and sporting a beloved T-shirt she made at an art 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 people.”
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School OF Exhausting KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are a part of the motion more in thoughts than body, and have been less centered on protest in the month since the raid on Zuccotti, a key entry 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 research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends when they weren’t busy studying.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Transfer Your Cash protest arrived at Foley Sq.. A whole bunch of protesters flooded the sq.which is usually a deserted public space surrounded by mammoth authorities buildings, and started an hours-long standoff with police who tried to disperse them.
Uniformed NYPD officers lined up across the street on the steps of the new York State Supreme Courtroom constructing. After a couple of failed attempts to shoo the protesters away by way of megaphone — “We don’t desire no one to get harm!” was the final such warning — police unfurled orange netting and began pushing the crowd, including a HuffPost reporter, back off the sidewalk. Others shoved protesters who resisted.
Within the chaos, the police made an example 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 fine government.”
“I just need to go back to school,” Frias cried as officers walked her back down the steps and past the barricade. She requested for assist finding her fiance.
At the Manhattan Criminal Court Building, where Frias was expected to be arraigned, a safety officer barred HuffPost from getting into. Occupy Wall Street protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and at least 21 others, in keeping with figures later offered by Moira Meltzer of the National Attorneys Guild. Authorities had the courtroom constructing on lockdown until the group dispersed again to Zuccotti.
In keeping with the court docket clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, in addition to with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, retains saying time and again, ‘I wish to get out of here,'” her fiance Acevedo told HuffPost that night, back at the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She does not even know what occurred … I am just staying right here for the evening, because that’s what we had been going to do. If she does not get out tomorrow, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
That was the only night Acevedo spent in Zuccotti. Frias spent it in jail. Since then, they’ve had to fret extra about finals, work — Acevedo holds a full-time job — and Frias’ legal points.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo said in an email. “We’re each nonetheless not utterly over all that has occurred.” He said he and Frias couldn’t comment any further, given the pending court docket resolution.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Avenue. “If anything, it just made us want to do greater than we already had been,” Acevedo said.
In the last few weeks, he has switched majors, from criminal justice to political science.
Huge Points, Large Cash
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran high. A man who entered the camp’s “information tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about obtainable bathroom services before two Occupy Wall Street organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of the organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and related confrontations as “plant points,” or attempts by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Avenue. More serious circumstances of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, however Prince and different organizers likewise attributed such problems to malefactors from exterior the Occupy movement.
Prince himself spent years in what he calls a “thankless job in finance.” Burrowed into his coat on a chilly stone bench, he stated he had been trying to assert a cause for his own at the same time that OWS began to obtain donations on a scale that organizers had difficulty processing. Prince, who describes himself as a “rights person,” stated he got here to Zuccotti every single day in the first week of the occupation and then most days after that.
When he first arrived, he stated, a member of the finance committee was conserving $10,000 in money within the park. “I made her go to the financial institution,” he stated, 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 pissed off by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its growth, although he cited the formation of a “spokes council” as the signal of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we would not be in Iraq right now if George Bush had to are available entrance of the [GA],” he said. “But it’s idealistic to assume that everyone talking about all the pieces at the same time will get you anyplace.”
On the evening of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media workforce assembly when he heard screaming, then noticed the thousand-plus police when the NYPD trucks hit the park with their lights.
To forestall such surprises in the future, Prince said he is now developing the OWS Transparency Act, an internal road map for Occupy communications. “Attempting to keep abreast of what is going on is a full-time job,” he said. “There ought to have been ongoing negotiations with the town.”
A secondary aim is to extend transparency across the movement’s working price range, presently allotted by a brand new incarnation of the financial working group that Prince joined early on. It is now known as the accounting working group, and one other member mentioned the NYPD’s destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Street, which have risen above $600,000 in complete since September.
Prince also helped arrange final week’s anti-foreclosure day of motion, Occupy Our Properties, which some protesters noticed as a new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Road itself look for a brand new, extra everlasting home.
During the day, nonetheless, he solutions to a distinct boss. Back in early November, Prince said that he was back in sales and advertising. When asked the place, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district but declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn page lists his current occupation as advertising and marketing and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc.a non-public espresso company, nevertheless it doesn’t seem to have been not too long ago updated.
“In fact I see the irony, however I’m kind of seeking to do something else,” he stated of his time in enterprise, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical large Merck. “I’ve principally prevented it in the course of the time I have been in New York. I don’t have a very good feeling in regards to the stuff they’ve carried out.”
Asked in November whether the Occupy motion can survive, Prince stated, “Well, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We want another voice.”
In an interview last week, he did not hesitate. “There are large issues, massive problems,” he stated, “and most individuals seem incapable of speaking about it.”
John Friesen has no hassle speaking, however he takes a different view. “By its personal actions, the prevailing power structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he said final week. “These institutions and buildings should be dismantled, and a more humane society should be constructed from the ground up.”
As night settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen started his “community watch” around the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll previous a cluster of police officers. In pairs, community watch volunteers would spend a number of hours per night surveying the park for security issues, each inside and exterior. Circling the park, nevertheless, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their approach per week later.
Most of the watch volunteers had not been trained for reconnaissance or safety work, though some said at the time that they have been taking mediation lessons. 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, however “I have turn into extremely resourceful. I dwell roughly without cash.”
He stated he had been visiting New York to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 assaults when Occupy Wall Street started in earnest, and as soon as he visited Zuccotti, he could not imagine leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated by way of the OWS encampment in the weeks leading as much as the police motion. Whereas the tents still stood, Friesen mentioned he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would solely strengthen the Occupy movement.
When it finally started, Friesen was wrapping up a planning assembly in a small park nearby for a later Occupy day of action. He and other OWS organizers made it back by the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the heart 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 said of the police. “Though the raid physically scattered us, it also allows us the chance — compels us, actually — to collect ourselves, re-consider and refocus, utilizing the experience of these miraculous months.”
Friesen and plenty of other OWS protesters nonetheless spend some days at Zuccotti, whereas at night they stay with hosts throughout the city. However he says he and different organizers have change into extra interested in actions that they consider will have a more direct impression, such Occupy Our Houses and a march to Goldman Sachs’ New York offices in solidarity with sister protests out west.
Friesen believes that many OWS protesters have been freed as much as participate in additional actions, now that they’re no longer obliged to worry about maintaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re trying to achieve out to marginalized communities that we haven’t yet passed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the amount.”
One part of maintaining the camp consisted of sustaining order and good conduct. A sign headed “Good Neighbor Policy,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS rules:
“Following respectful and good religion dialogue / zero tolerance for medication or alcohol anywhere in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of private or public property.”
Around midnight following the Transfer Your Cash march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a game of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, 51, learn under a streetlamp nearby.
Sharkey has been many things, together with a musician — “it’s schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and part James Brown” — and a author. A native New Yorker, he bought concerned in OWS after he noticed the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the first OWS event that basically got his consideration. Earlier than that, he says, “I thought it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, finding it tougher and harder to return house to Long Island to sleep or shower. In the park, “even the young children are knowledgeable,” he said, “and you really learn from folks whenever you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey said, “I feel I’ll be dwelling right here the remainder of my life.”
Even the police stationed along the edge of the park supplied classes. Up the sidewalk from where Sharkey was reading, NYPD Officer Solar talked casually with a member of OWS. Both said such chats were widespread throughout the largely-quiet evening hours.
Solar said he and other police recognized the frustrations of Occupiers. “It is like they have $100 bill in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he mentioned as he gazed around the financial district. “We get it.”
On the time of the raid, however, Sharkey had made certainly one of his infrequent trips dwelling. Since then, he is been in Florida visiting his two young daughters and largely “out of touch” with the motion. However Sharkey has by no means thought of OWS by way of weeks or months. “I think it is long-term, not a ‘this year’ or a ‘2012 election’ thing,” he mentioned in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters ought to lobby members of Congress and maybe form a 3rd occasion. “The response because the raid has been to re-evaluate the movement and try to determine one of the simplest ways to increase assist from the American individuals.”
In an electronic mail, Sharkey mentioned he was nonetheless decided to combat for the rights of all Individuals, including those he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are caught in the sand ready for everything to be calm and blissful.”
Keeping THE Movement ALIVE
Zuccotti is nearly as quiet in the early hours as it was on that chilly morning in early November when the medical tents that marked an early victory for Occupy Wall Street have been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a skilled nurse with a bullring in his nose and a stethoscope round his neck, described his position in the Occupy Wall Street medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Cost.”
His mission, he said, was simple: “be sure that people stay alive.”
“It is not our duty to give you every thing you want,” he added. “It is our accountability to make sure this movement goes on.”
Kostora, who can also be a photojournalist, was on a five-month cross-continental road journey along with his canine, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and no matter his guitar might earn him when associates at dwelling in New Mexico informed him he ought to check out what was taking place in New York.
In Montreal at the time, he headed south, intending to stay a number of nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, but the weeks passed shortly. “Time gets clumped here,” he mentioned.
While on watch, he swapped struggle tales with the other medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs where they’d day by day rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore red crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the larger crosses on the tents.
In a case that remains to be contemporary in Kostora’s thoughts, a affected person came in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a properly-performed barbecue,” stated Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We have had a couple of coronary heart assaults, saved a couple of lives,” stated Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “road medic.” Even if Dade was more than just a few years away from a medical diploma, patients did not hold that towards her. “There are so much of people who come to see us who haven’t seen a doctor in years,” she stated, “who would not be cared for otherwise.”
At the other finish of the spectrum, retired New York doctor David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical faculty decades before Dade was born. Stead came right down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the news, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical staff.
“I simply believe within the cause,” he stated. “I think there must be more fairness and distribution of money, and extra health care for anybody. It must be something individuals should be capable to expect, because the U.S. actually has the cash.”
The night of the raid, Kostora was visiting a bathroom away from the park when riot police started to advance. He barely made it back to the medical tents, the place one patient was being handled and one other protester with heart issues was looking for safety.
According to Kostora, police dragged him and the woman with heart problems throughout the road and threw them to the ground. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the other affected person, whilst cops slashed open the medical tents, he stated.
“I went up to every excessive-ranking officer I might find and instructed them we’ve got patients in there, we’ve medical records in there, and they can not — it is illegal for them to enter and not using a court docket order, and they just ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
Because the raid, Kostora has targeted on “rebuilding.” His staff has been making the rounds to sites all through the town the place Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they’ll debut four “cellular clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical tools that the group can use during demonstrations. Other plans are in development for a extra permanent, registered clinic “that will offer free health care to all people, one hundred p.c,” and a medical commentary crew, currently in search of volunteers, that may attend protests to stone island thermo reflective ice jacket reply to — and doc — protesters’ accidents.
On the whole, “I feel that the management inside the Occupy movement is beginning to come back out,” Kostora mentioned. “We do not have a park to manage anymore, so now we will truly give attention to where we take the motion.”
However Kostora stated Friday that he is more or less run via his financial savings, now counting on OWS food and the generosity of associates. “I don’t actually require too much,” he said, “in addition to dog food.”
He is been looking for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical staff is a full-time place.
“Do not think I’m going again to New Mexico quickly,” Kostora added, “or wherever for that matter. I’m too deep.”
‘People AREN’T GOING TO Cease’
Throughout from the medical tents, at the center of the park, was the folks’s kitchen, run virtually completely on a formidable stockpile of donated supplies and some money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed hundreds every day, said volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, back in November, seated on an overturned bucket within the kitchen while a big man — “Simply Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, child” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black shortly became enmeshed in Occupy Wall Avenue after seeing the identical reviews of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on name around the clock to make deliveries across the tri-state space — “Principally, I simply listen to NPR all day,” he mentioned — but had been in a position to spend most subsequent nights within the park.
“I went from, ‘I am gonna keep the night’ to ‘I’m gonna reside right here,'” he stated.
Before the raid, O’Black said he believed the Zuccotti encampment was there to remain. When it was destroyed, he and his fellow marchers had simply arrived at Occupy Philadelphia, en route to Washington, D.C, and they spent the remainder of the night time watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would occur ultimately,” O’Black said. “The state responds to any threat with violence. We will see this repeating throughout fashionable historical past.”
Once the marchers completed their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some prolonged their route one other roughly seven-hundred miles to Atlanta.
Within the wake of continued crackdowns at different Occupy sites, a few of those protesters took the raid as a problem, pledging to “occupy the road” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, nevertheless, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken part in Occupy Our Houses and different “day of motion” occasions.
“My role within the park now could be very similar,” he said final week. “I still work, delivering clothes and meals to these in need. We simply don’t have a house base proper now.”
Wherever it eventually goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy motion will endure. “Individuals aren’t going to stop 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 possibly sit there and let issues get worse