Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Past Zuccotti
Shortly before the brand new York Police Department forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Road protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Put up spent 24 hours surveying life in their tent city. One month later, with the tents lengthy since slashed open and thrown away and almost each sign of what occurred there erased from the park, HuffPost surveyed those self 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 beyond Zuccotti. And most nonetheless say the motion is greater than a second.
‘It is not GOING Anywhere’
On a bright, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with tons of of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, past City Hall to Foley Square. Ryan’s 8-12 months-outdated daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey City to take part within the march, organized together with a marketing campaign to encourage individuals to transfer their financial savings from giant financial establishments to neighborhood banks and credit unions.
“I would like her to see what it’s to be an lively citizen of her country,” Ryan mentioned during a quick break. When requested what she thought concerning the march, Mary Jane looked bashfully at her mom, then at the bottom. She did voice her opinions on another matter, nonetheless, when they resumed walking. “My sock is so annoying,” she stated, yanking on the offending footwear. “It won’t stay up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of decrease Manhattan, stalling site visitors. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, whereas passengers stuck their arms out from past tinted home windows and made peace signs.
It was the primary protest for Mary Jane, whom her mom calls MJ. “I put all the pieces to her in the best of phrases,” Ryan mentioned of her daughter. “I did tell her concerning the bailouts, and the way the average person is suffering extra as a result of irresponsibility by the banks and our government.” Later within the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at every bank as she marched by.
Little over per week earlier than the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the way forward for Occupy Wall Road. “After all, I hope something more tangible comes of it,” she said. “I believe we’ve solely seen the beginning. It is not going wherever, even if they did are available in and dismantle the park.”
In the month since police did simply that, slashing tents, trashing books and arresting bus-loads of protesters, Ryan has develop into more concerned 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 motion” working group, which currently meets in group areas and office buildings within a number of blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters name “Liberty Sq..”
The NYPD raid could have offered the jolt that Occupy Wall Street needed, Ryan said. A month ago, she had grown frustrated with what she saw as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by folks more thinking about picture ops than protest. “They made what we have been all obsessed with look ridiculous from the surface,” she mentioned.
With these hangers-on largely gone, Ryan said, it’s been simpler to deal with “day of motion” events. Most just lately, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed house.
But for Ryan, these occasions have been fewer and farther between because the vacation season has approached. A contract make-up artist and hair colorist, she nonetheless manages to make meetings two or thrice every week throughout “mother-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week with her father — Ryan used to spend these nights in the park.
“This time last 12 months I used to be working at a salon for the 1 p.c 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan mentioned in an electronic mail Friday. “My previous schedule would not have allowed for this, and who knows how my outdated employer would have responded considering the clientele.”
Nonetheless, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.Zero, the subsequent main OWS event, scheduled for Saturday.
“We’re re-occupying,” Ryan said in an e mail. “I’m glad I didn’t put my sleeping bag and tent again in storage yet too!”
Ryan mentioned Friday that MJ will likely be attending the brand new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying children of Occupiers and sporting a beloved T-shirt she made at an artwork station in Zuccotti. It features two scenes, as Ryan describes them: “In the primary scene it was the banks stealing our cash. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it back and giving it to folks.”
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College OF Onerous KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are part of the movement extra in mind than physique, and have been much less targeted on protest within the month since the raid on Zuccotti, a key access level for both originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a pupil at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, was a informal Occupier in November. She and her fiance, Hector Acevedo, 22, who studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends once they weren’t busy studying.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Transfer Your Money protest arrived at Foley Square. Tons of of protesters flooded the sq., which is usually a deserted public area surrounded by mammoth authorities buildings, and began an hours-long standoff with police who tried to disperse them.
Uniformed NYPD officers lined up throughout the road on the steps of the new York State Supreme Courtroom constructing. After a few failed makes an attempt to shoo the protesters away through megaphone — “We don’t need no one to get harm!” was the final 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 example of Frias, dragging her, sobbing, up the courthouse steps and cuffing her beneath the phrases of George Washington etched into its edifice: “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of fine authorities.”
“I simply want to go back to college,” Frias cried as officers walked her again down the steps and beyond the barricade. She asked for assist discovering her fiance.
On the Manhattan Criminal Courtroom Constructing, the place Frias was expected to be arraigned, a safety officer barred HuffPost from entering. Occupy Wall Street protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and at the least 21 others, in line with figures later offered by Moira Meltzer of the National Legal professionals Guild. Authorities had the court docket building on lockdown till the group dispersed again to Zuccotti.
In response to the court docket clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, retains saying time and again, ‘I want to get out of here,'” her fiance Acevedo instructed HuffPost that night time, again at the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She doesn’t even know what occurred … I’m simply staying here for the night time, as a result of that is what we were going to do. If she doesn’t get out tomorrow, I don’t know what I am going to do.”
That was the one evening Acevedo spent in Zuccotti. Frias spent it in jail. Since then, they’ve had to worry more about finals, work — Acevedo holds a full-time job — and Frias’ authorized points.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo stated in an e-mail. “We’re both nonetheless not fully over all that has happened.” He stated he and Frias could not comment any further, given the pending court choice.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Road. “If something, it simply 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.
Big Issues, Big Cash
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran excessive. A man who entered the camp’s “data tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about accessible bathroom amenities before two Occupy Wall Road organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of many organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and similar confrontations as “plant points,” or attempts by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Street. Extra severe 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 chilly stone bench, he said he had been trying to say a trigger for his own at the identical time that OWS began to obtain donations on a scale that organizers had issue processing. Prince, who describes himself as a “rights individual,” said he came to Zuccotti every single day in the primary week of the occupation after which most days after that.
When he first arrived, he said, a member of the finance committee was holding $10,000 in money within the park. “I made her go to the bank,” he stated, shaking his head. They switched the money to the Amalgamated Financial institution owned by the Staff United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, said he’s been pissed off by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its growth, though he cited the formation of a “spokes council” because the signal of an evolution towards centralized authority.
“Look, we wouldn’t be in Iraq right now if George Bush needed to are available front of the [GA],” he said. “But it’s idealistic to assume that everybody talking about everything at the identical time will get you wherever.”
On the night of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media staff meeting when he heard screaming, then saw the thousand-plus police when the NYPD trucks hit the park with their lights.
To forestall such surprises sooner or later, Prince said he is now growing the OWS Transparency Act, an inside road map for Occupy communications. “Trying to maintain abreast of what’s going on is a full-time job,” he said. “There ought to have been ongoing negotiations with the town.”
A secondary goal is to increase transparency across the motion’s working price range, at the moment allocated by a new incarnation of the monetary working group that Prince joined early on. It’s now referred to as the accounting working group, and another member stated the NYPD’s destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Road, which have risen above $600,000 in total since September.
Prince additionally helped set up final week’s anti-foreclosure day of action, Occupy Our Homes, which some protesters saw as a new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Road itself search for a new, more everlasting home.
Throughout the day, nonetheless, he answers to a different boss. Again in early November, Prince stated that he was back in sales and marketing. When requested where, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district but declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn web page lists his present occupation as advertising and marketing and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc., a personal coffee firm, but it does not appear to have been just lately updated.
“Of course I see the irony, but I am form of trying to do something else,” he mentioned of his time in enterprise, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical large Merck. “I’ve mainly prevented it in the course of the time I have been in New York. I don’t have a superb feeling in regards to the stuff they’ve achieved.”
Requested in November whether the Occupy motion can survive, Prince said, “Nicely, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We need an alternate voice.”
In an interview final week, he didn’t hesitate. “There are large points, huge problems,” he said, “and most individuals appear incapable of talking about it.”
John Friesen has no trouble talking, but he takes a unique view. “By its personal actions, the existing energy structure has uncovered itself as illegitimate,” he said final week. “These establishments and buildings have to be dismantled, and a extra humane society must be built from the ground up.”
As evening settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen began his “group watch” across the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll previous a cluster of police officers. In pairs, neighborhood watch volunteers would spend several hours per evening surveying the park for safety concerns, each inside and external. Circling the park, nonetheless, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their manner a week later.
Lots of the watch volunteers had not been educated for reconnaissance or safety work, though some said on the time that they were taking mediation classes. Friesen, 27, described himself primarily as an activist from Berkeley, Calif., who had been concerned in protests for years. He hasn’t held a “conventional job” since 2007, Friesen mentioned, but “I have develop into extraordinarily resourceful. I stay roughly without money.”
He mentioned he had been visiting New York to observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults when Occupy Wall Road started in earnest, and as soon as he visited Zuccotti, he could not think about leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated through the OWS encampment within the weeks main up to the police motion. While the tents nonetheless stood, Friesen stated he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would only strengthen the Occupy movement.
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 different OWS organizers made it again by means of the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the center of the park.
“They could not stand the direct critique, the nascent counterpoint of a free society, the explosive expressions of genuine freedom and humanity,” Friesen stated of the police. “Though the raid physically scattered us, it also permits us the opportunity — compels us, really — to gather ourselves, re-consider and refocus, utilizing the experience of those miraculous months.”
Friesen and many different OWS protesters still spend some days at Zuccotti, whereas at night they stick with hosts all through town. But he says he and other organizers have turn out to be extra focused on actions that they imagine could have a extra direct impact, 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 take part in additional actions, now that they are no longer obliged to fret about sustaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re attempting to succeed in out to marginalized communities that we have not but handed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the volume.”
One a part of sustaining the camp consisted of maintaining order and good habits. An indication headed “Good Neighbor Coverage,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS guidelines:
“Following respectful and good religion dialogue / zero tolerance for medicine or alcohol anyplace in Liberty Sq. / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of private or public property.”
Round midnight following the Transfer Your Cash march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a recreation of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, 51, read below a streetlamp nearby.
Sharkey has been many things, including a musician — “it’s schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and half James Brown” — and a writer. A native New Yorker, he obtained involved in OWS after he saw the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the first OWS event that actually received his attention. Before that, he says, “I assumed it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, finding it tougher and more durable to return dwelling to Lengthy Island to sleep or shower. Within the park, “even the young youngsters are educated,” he mentioned, “and you actually study from folks while you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey stated, “I think I will be living here the rest of my life.”
Even the police stationed along the edge of the park provided classes. Up the sidewalk from where Sharkey was studying, NYPD Officer Solar talked casually with a member of OWS. Each mentioned such chats have been frequent in the course of the principally-quiet evening hours.
Solar said he and different police acknowledged the frustrations of Occupiers. “It’s like they have $one hundred bill in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he mentioned as he gazed across the financial district. “We get it.”
On the time of the raid, nevertheless, Sharkey had made considered one of his infrequent journeys dwelling. Since then, he is been in Florida visiting his two younger daughters and largely “out of touch” with the motion. But Sharkey has by no means thought of OWS by way of weeks or months. “I think it is lengthy-term, not a ‘this yr’ or a ‘2012 election’ factor,” he stated in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters ought to lobby members of Congress and maybe type a 3rd social gathering. “The response for the reason that raid has been to re-evaluate the motion and attempt to decide one of the best ways to extend help from the American individuals.”
In an e mail, Sharkey mentioned he was nonetheless decided to battle for the rights of all Individuals, including these he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are stuck within the sand ready for the whole lot to be calm and blissful.”
Keeping THE Motion ALIVE
Zuccotti is nearly 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 Street have been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a trained nurse with a bullring in his nose and a stethoscope around his neck, described his function in the Occupy Wall Road medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Charge.”
His mission, he said, was simple: “be certain that individuals stay alive.”
“It is not our duty to provide you with all the pieces you want,” he added. “It’s our duty to verify this motion goes on.”
Kostora, who can also be a photojournalist, was on a 5-month cross-continental highway trip together with his dog, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and no matter his guitar may earn him when mates at house in New Mexico informed him he should try what was happening in New York.
In Montreal on the time, he headed south, intending to remain a couple of nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, but the weeks handed rapidly. “Time gets clumped right here,” he said.
Whereas on watch, he swapped struggle stories with the opposite medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs the place they’d daily rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore crimson crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the larger crosses on the tents.
In a case that continues to be fresh in Kostora’s thoughts, a patient got here in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a effectively-carried out barbecue,” stated Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We’ve had a couple of coronary heart attacks, saved a number of lives,” said Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “road medic.” Even supposing Dade was greater than a number of years away from a medical degree, patients did not hold that towards her. “There are quite a bit of people that come to see us who haven’t seen a doctor in years,” she mentioned, “who wouldn’t be cared for in any other case.”
At the other end of the spectrum, retired New York doctor David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical college decades before Dade was born. Stead got here right down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the information, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical workforce.
“I just believe in the trigger,” he mentioned. “I feel there needs to be extra equity and distribution of money, and extra health care for anyone. It should be one stone island eu thing people ought to be capable of count on, because the U.S. actually has the money.”
The night time of the raid, Kostora was visiting a bathroom away from the park when riot police began to advance. He barely made it back to the medical tents, where one affected person was being treated and one other protester with heart issues was looking for protection.
In accordance with Kostora, police dragged him and the girl with coronary heart issues across the road and threw them to the bottom. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the other affected person, even as cops slashed open the medical tents, he mentioned.
“I went up to each excessive-ranking officer I could discover and informed them we’ve patients in there, we’ve got medical records in there, and they cannot — it is illegal for them to enter and not using a court docket order, and they just ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
Since the raid, Kostora has focused on “rebuilding.” His crew has been making the rounds to sites throughout the city where Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they’ll debut 4 “mobile clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical equipment that the group can use during demonstrations. Different plans are in growth for a extra everlasting, registered clinic “that can supply free health care to everyone, a hundred percent,” and a medical commentary team, at present looking for volunteers, that will attend protests to reply to — and doc — protesters’ injuries.
On the entire, “I feel that the leadership throughout the Occupy movement is starting to return out,” Kostora said. “We don’t have a park to handle anymore, so now we are able to truly focus on the place we take the motion.”
But Kostora mentioned Friday that he’s roughly run by his savings, now relying on OWS meals and the generosity of friends. “I do not actually require too much,” he said, “in addition to pet food.”
He is been looking for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical workforce is a full-time position.
“Don’t assume I’m going back to New Mexico soon,” Kostora added, “or wherever for that matter. I’m 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 nearly entirely on a formidable stockpile of donated provides and some money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed thousands daily, stated volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, again in November, seated on an overturned bucket in the kitchen while a big man — “Just Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, baby” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J., O’Black shortly grew to become enmeshed in Occupy Wall Street after seeing the identical stories of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on name across the clock to make deliveries across the tri-state area — “Basically, I simply take heed 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 stay the evening’ to ‘I’m gonna reside right here,'” he said.
Earlier than the raid, O’Black mentioned 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, they usually spent the remainder of the night time watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would occur finally,” O’Black mentioned. “The state responds to any risk with violence. We can see this repeating all through fashionable historical past.”
As soon as the marchers accomplished their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some extended their route one other roughly 700 miles to Atlanta.
In the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy websites, some of those protesters took the raid as a challenge, pledging to “occupy the highway” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, however, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken half in Occupy Our Homes and different “day of action” occasions.
“My role within the park now may be very similar,” he stated last week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothes and food to these in want. We just haven’t got a home base right now.”
Wherever it ultimately goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy motion will endure. “People aren’t going to stop being upset about the present state of affairs on this country,” he said, echoing his call to action from a month earlier: “Why would you presumably sit there and let issues get worse?
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