Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond Zuccotti
Shortly before the brand new York Police Division forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Submit spent 24 hours surveying life of their tent city. One month later, with the tents lengthy since slashed open and thrown away and virtually each sign of what occurred 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 additionally wanting beyond Zuccotti. And most nonetheless say the movement is more than a moment.
‘It isn’t GOING Anywhere’
On a shiny, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with hundreds of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, past City Hall to Foley Sq.. Ryan’s eight-yr-previous daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey Metropolis to take part within the march, organized in conjunction with a marketing campaign to encourage people to switch their financial savings from giant monetary institutions to community banks and credit score unions.
“I need her to see what it is to be an energetic citizen of her nation,” Ryan mentioned during a fast break. When requested what she thought about the march, Mary Jane regarded bashfully at her mother, then at the bottom. She did voice her opinions on another matter, however, when they resumed strolling. “My sock is so annoying,” she stated, yanking at the offending footwear. “It will not stay up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of decrease Manhattan, stalling site visitors. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers stuck their palms out from past tinted windows and made peace signs.
It was the primary protest for Mary Jane, whom her mom calls MJ. “I put every part to her in the best of phrases,” Ryan mentioned of her daughter. “I did inform her in regards to the bailouts, and the way the common particular person is suffering extra as a consequence 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 before the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the future of Occupy Wall Avenue. “Of course, I hope one thing extra tangible comes of it,” she stated. “I think we have solely seen the start. It’s not going wherever, even if they did come 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 grow to be extra 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 Street’s “direct motion” working group, which currently meets in neighborhood areas and office buildings inside a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and different protesters name “Liberty Square.”
The NYPD raid might have offered the jolt that Occupy Wall Street needed, Ryan mentioned. A month ago, she had grown frustrated with what she saw as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by people extra fascinated about photo ops than protest. “They made what we had been all captivated with look ridiculous from the surface,” she stated.
With those hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan mentioned, it’s been easier to deal with “day of action” occasions. Most recently, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as a part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed house.
However for Ryan, these occasions have been fewer and farther between because the holiday season has approached. A contract make-up artist and hair colorist, she still manages to make meetings two or 3 times a week during “mom-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week along with her father — Ryan used to spend these nights in the park.
“This time last year I was working at a salon for the 1 p.c 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan stated in an e mail Friday. “My previous schedule would not have allowed for this, and who is aware of how my old employer would have responded considering the clientele.”
Still, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.Zero, the next major OWS occasion, scheduled for Saturday.
“We’re re-occupying,” Ryan mentioned in an electronic mail. “I am glad I didn’t put my sleeping bag and tent back in storage but too!”
Ryan said Friday that MJ shall be attending the brand new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying youngsters of Occupiers and wearing a beloved T-shirt she made at an art station in Zuccotti. It options two scenes, as Ryan describes them: “In the first scene it was the banks stealing our cash. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it again and giving it to folks.”
(Story continues below the slideshow)
Faculty OF Arduous KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are part of the movement extra in thoughts than physique, and have been less targeted on protest within the month for the reason that raid on Zuccotti, a key entry level for both originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a student at Bard School at Simon’s Rock, was a informal Occupier in November. She and her fiance, Hector Acevedo, 22, who research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends after they weren’t busy finding out.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Transfer Your Money protest arrived at Foley Square. Lots of of protesters flooded the sq.which is normally a deserted public space surrounded by mammoth government 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 brand new York State Supreme Court constructing. After a few failed makes an attempt to shoo the protesters away via megaphone — “We don’t need nobody to get hurt!” was the last such warning — police unfurled orange netting and started pushing the group, including a HuffPost reporter, again 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 good authorities.”
“I simply want to return to school,” Frias cried as officers walked her again down the steps and past the barricade. She requested for help discovering her fiance.
On the Manhattan Criminal Court docket Constructing, the place Frias was expected to be arraigned, a security officer barred HuffPost from stone island edinburgh getting into. Occupy Wall Street protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and at the least 21 others, in line with figures later supplied by Moira Meltzer of the National Legal professionals Guild. Authorities had the court docket constructing on lockdown till the gang dispersed back to Zuccotti.
Based on the courtroom clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, in addition to with obstructing authorities administration and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, keeps saying over and over, ‘I want to get out of here,'” her fiance Acevedo advised HuffPost that night, back at the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She doesn’t even know what occurred … I am 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 will do.”
That was the only night Acevedo spent in Zuccotti. Frias spent it in jail. Since then, they’ve had to fret more about finals, work — Acevedo holds a full-time job — and Frias’ authorized issues.
“Her trial isn’t over,” Acevedo stated in an e mail. “We’re each nonetheless not completely over all that has occurred.” He mentioned he and Frias could not comment any additional, given the pending court determination.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their interest in Occupy Wall Road. “If something, it simply made us want to do greater than we already were,” Acevedo said.
In the last few weeks, he has switched majors, from criminal justice to political science.
Massive Points, Huge Cash
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran high. A man who entered the camp’s “data tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about out there bathroom facilities before two Occupy Wall Avenue organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of many organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and comparable confrontations as “plant issues,” or makes an attempt by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Avenue. Extra severe cases of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, however Prince and different organizers likewise attributed such issues to malefactors from outdoors the Occupy motion.
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 looking to say a trigger for his own at the identical time that OWS started to obtain donations on a scale that organizers had issue processing. Prince, who describes himself as a “rights individual,” mentioned he came to Zuccotti day by day in the primary week of the occupation and then most days after that.
When he first arrived, he stated, a member of the finance committee was retaining $10,000 in money in the park. “I made her go to the financial institution,” he stated, shaking his head. They switched the money to the Amalgamated Financial institution owned by the Employees United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, stated he is been pissed off by the trouble OWS has had in managing its progress, though he cited the formation of a “spokes council” as the sign of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we would not be in Iraq right now if George Bush had to come in front of the [GA],” he mentioned. “However it is idealistic to assume that everybody speaking about every thing at the same time will get you wherever.”
On the night of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media crew 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 in the future, Prince stated he is now creating the OWS Transparency Act, an inner street 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 town.”
A secondary aim is to increase transparency around the movement’s working funds, at present allotted by a new incarnation of the financial working group that Prince joined early on. It is now called 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 whole since September.
Prince also helped set up final week’s anti-foreclosure day of motion, Occupy Our Properties, which some protesters saw as a new focus. He is helping Occupy Wall Road itself search for a brand new, extra permanent residence.
Throughout the day, nevertheless, he answers to a unique boss. Back in early November, Prince said that he was back in sales and advertising. When asked where, he pointed towards the darkened skyscrapers of the financial 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 firm, but it surely does not appear to have been just lately up to date.
“After all I see the irony, however I’m form of trying to do something else,” he said of his time in enterprise, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical big Merck. “I’ve basically prevented it throughout the time I’ve been in New York. I haven’t got an excellent feeling in regards to the stuff they’ve carried out.”
Asked in November whether the Occupy motion can survive, Prince stated, “Properly, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We want an alternative voice.”
In an interview final week, he didn’t hesitate. “There are huge issues, huge problems,” he said, “and most people seem incapable of talking about it.”
John Friesen has no hassle speaking, however he takes a unique view. “By its own actions, the prevailing energy construction has uncovered itself as illegitimate,” he stated final week. “These establishments and constructions have to be dismantled, and a extra humane society should be constructed from the bottom up.”
As night settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen began his “group watch” across the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll past a cluster of police officers. In pairs, neighborhood watch volunteers would spend several hours per night time surveying the park for safety considerations, both inner and external. Circling the park, nonetheless, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their manner every week later.
Most of the watch volunteers had not been educated for reconnaissance or security work, though some said at the time that they had been taking mediation lessons. Friesen, 27, described himself primarily as an activist from Berkeley, Calif.who had been involved in protests for years. He hasn’t held a “conventional job” since 2007, Friesen mentioned, however “I’ve develop into extraordinarily resourceful. I live kind of without cash.”
He mentioned he had been visiting New York to observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/eleven assaults when Occupy Wall Street started in earnest, and once he visited Zuccotti, he couldn’t imagine leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated via the OWS encampment in the weeks leading up to the police motion. Whereas the tents still stood, Friesen mentioned he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would only strengthen the Occupy movement.
When it lastly started, Friesen was wrapping up a planning meeting in a small park nearby for a later Occupy day of action. He and other OWS organizers made it back through 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 authentic freedom and humanity,” Friesen mentioned of the police. “Although the raid physically scattered us, it also allows us the opportunity — compels us, really — to collect ourselves, re-consider and refocus, using the experience of those miraculous months.”
Friesen and plenty of other OWS protesters nonetheless spend some days at Zuccotti, while at night they stay with hosts throughout the town. However he says he and other organizers have turn into extra inquisitive about actions that they believe may have a extra direct impact, 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 no longer obliged to worry about maintaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re trying to achieve out to marginalized communities that we have not but handed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the amount.”
One part of sustaining the camp consisted of sustaining order and good habits. An indication headed “Good Neighbor Policy,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS guidelines:
“Following respectful and good faith dialogue / zero tolerance for medicine or alcohol anyplace in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of non-public 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 underneath a streetlamp nearby.
Sharkey has been many things, including a musician — “it is schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and part 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 occasion that really received his attention. Before that, he says, “I thought it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, discovering it harder and harder to return home to Long Island to sleep or shower. In the park, “even the young children are knowledgeable,” he mentioned, “and you really study from individuals if you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey mentioned, “I believe I’ll be living here the rest of my life.”
Even the police stationed alongside the edge of the park offered lessons. Up the sidewalk from the place Sharkey was studying, NYPD Officer Solar talked casually with a member of OWS. Both said such chats had been common through the principally-quiet night time hours.
Sun mentioned he and different police acknowledged the frustrations of Occupiers. “It’s like they have $a hundred bill in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he stated as he gazed around the financial district. “We get it.”
At the time of the raid, nevertheless, Sharkey had made certainly one of his infrequent trips home. Since then, he is been in Florida visiting his two younger daughters and largely “out of touch” with the motion. However Sharkey has never considered OWS in terms of weeks or months. “I feel it’s long-time period, not a ‘this yr’ or a ‘2012 election’ factor,” he said in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters must lobby members of Congress and perhaps form a 3rd party. “The response because the raid has been to re-consider the motion and try to decide the best way to increase support from the American folks.”
In an e-mail, Sharkey said he was nonetheless determined to combat for the rights of all Americans, including those he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are caught within the sand ready for everything to be calm and blissful.”
Retaining THE Movement ALIVE
Zuccotti is nearly as quiet in 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 Road had been nonetheless standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a skilled nurse with a bullring in his nose and a stethoscope round his neck, described his role within the Occupy Wall Road medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Cost.”
His mission, he mentioned, was simple: “be sure individuals keep alive.”
“It is not our duty to provide you with the whole lot you need,” he added. “It is our duty to verify this motion goes on.”
Kostora, who can be a photojournalist, was on a five-month cross-continental street trip along with his dog, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and whatever his guitar could earn him when friends at residence in New Mexico advised him he should try what was taking place in New York.
In Montreal at the time, he headed south, intending to stay just a few nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, however the weeks passed shortly. “Time will get clumped right here,” he mentioned.
Whereas on watch, he swapped conflict stories with the opposite medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs where they had each day rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore crimson crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the bigger crosses on the tents.
In a case that continues to be contemporary in Kostora’s mind, a affected person got here in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a well-completed barbecue,” mentioned Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We’ve had just a few heart assaults, saved just a few lives,” stated Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “street medic.” Even though Dade was more than just a few years away from a medical diploma, patients did not hold that towards her. “There are too much of people who come to see us who have not seen a physician in years,” she stated, “who would not be cared for otherwise.”
At the opposite finish of the spectrum, retired New York doctor David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical faculty many years before Dade was born. Stead got here down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the information, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical group.
“I just consider in the cause,” he said. “I believe there ought to be extra fairness and distribution of cash, and extra health care for anyone. It ought to be something folks should have the ability to expect, because the U.S. actually has the money.”
The evening 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, where one patient was being handled and one other protester with coronary heart issues was in search of safety.
In accordance with Kostora, police dragged him and the lady with coronary heart issues across the road and threw them to the bottom. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the opposite affected person, even as cops slashed open the medical tents, he mentioned.
“I went up to every excessive-ranking officer I could discover and informed them we now have patients in there, we’ve got medical data in there, and they cannot — it’s unlawful for them to enter with no court docket order, and they simply ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
For the reason that raid, Kostora has focused on “rebuilding.” His workforce has been making the rounds to sites throughout town where Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they’ll debut four “cell clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical tools that the crew can use throughout demonstrations. Other plans are in improvement for a extra everlasting, registered clinic “that may supply free health care to everyone, 100 percent,” and a medical remark workforce, presently in search of volunteers, that can attend protests to reply to — and doc — protesters’ accidents.
On the whole, “I feel that the leadership throughout the Occupy motion is starting to return out,” Kostora stated. “We do not have a park to handle anymore, so now we can actually give attention to the place we take the motion.”
However Kostora said Friday that he’s roughly run by his financial savings, now relying on OWS meals and the generosity of buddies. “I don’t really require a lot,” he mentioned, “moreover pet food.”
He is been looking for jobs but says his work with the OWS medical group is a full-time position.
“Do not assume I’m going back to New Mexico quickly,” Kostora added, “or anywhere for that matter. I’m too deep.”
‘People AREN’T GOING TO Cease’
Across from the medical tents, at the center of the park, was the people’s kitchen, run nearly totally on a powerful stockpile of donated supplies and some money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed 1000’s daily, mentioned volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, back in November, seated on an overturned bucket in the kitchen while a large man — “Simply Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, baby” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black quickly turned enmeshed in Occupy Wall Avenue after seeing the same reviews of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on call across the clock to make deliveries across the tri-state space — “Mainly, I simply hearken to NPR all day,” he stated — however had been able to spend most subsequent nights in the park.
“I went from, ‘I’m gonna stay the night’ to ‘I’m gonna stay here,'” he stated.
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 simply arrived at Occupy Philadelphia, en route to Washington, D.C, they usually spent the rest of the night watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would occur finally,” O’Black mentioned. “The state responds to any threat with Stone Island Sale violence. We are able to see this repeating throughout trendy history.”
As soon as the marchers accomplished their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some prolonged their route another roughly seven-hundred miles to Atlanta.
Within the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy websites, some of these protesters took the raid as a problem, pledging to “occupy the street” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, nonetheless, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken part in Occupy Our Homes and different “day of motion” events.
“My role within the park now may be very related,” he said last week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothing and meals to those in need. We simply don’t have a home base proper now.”
Wherever it finally goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy movement will endure. “Individuals aren’t going to stop being upset about the current state of affairs in this country,” he said, echoing his call to motion from a month earlier: “Why would you probably sit there and let issues get worse