Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond Zuccotti
Shortly earlier than the new York Police Department forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Avenue protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Put up spent 24 hours surveying life in their tent metropolis. One month later, with the tents long since slashed open and thrown away and nearly each signal 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.Zero” and the three-month anniversary of OWS, they’re additionally looking past Zuccotti. And most still say the motion is greater than a moment.
‘It isn’t GOING Anyplace’
On a vivid, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with lots of of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond City Hall to Foley Sq.. Ryan’s eight-12 months-previous daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey Metropolis to participate within the march, organized along with a campaign to encourage folks to switch their financial savings from massive monetary institutions to community banks and credit unions.
“I want her to see what it is to be an active citizen of her country,” Ryan stated during a fast break. When asked what she thought about the march, Mary Jane regarded bashfully at her mother, then at the ground. She did voice her opinions on one other matter, nevertheless, when they resumed strolling. “My sock is so annoying,” she stated, yanking on the offending footwear. “It will not stay up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, stalling traffic. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers stuck their fingers out from beyond tinted windows and made peace signs.
It was the first protest for Mary Jane, whom her mother calls MJ. “I put every thing to her in the simplest of phrases,” Ryan stated of her daughter. “I did inform her in regards to the bailouts, and how the typical person is suffering extra resulting from irresponsibility by the banks and our authorities.” Later within the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at every financial institution as she marched by.
Little over per week earlier than the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the future of Occupy Wall Avenue. “In fact, I hope something more tangible comes of it,” she stated. “I feel we have solely seen the beginning. It’s not going anyplace, even if they did are available in and dismantle the park.”
Within the month since police did just that, slashing tents, trashing books and arresting bus-loads of protesters, Ryan has develop into more involved 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 Street’s “direct motion” working group, which presently meets in group spaces and workplace buildings within just a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters call “Liberty Square.”
The NYPD raid may have provided the jolt that Occupy Wall Avenue needed, Ryan stated. A month ago, she had grown frustrated with what she saw as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by individuals more curious about photo stone island mustard hooded shimmer jacket ops than protest. “They made what we have been all keen about look ridiculous from the surface,” she mentioned.
With those hangers-on principally gone, Ryan mentioned, it has been easier to give attention to “day of action” events. Most recently, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed residence.
However for Ryan, those occasions have been fewer and farther between as the holiday season has approached. A freelance makeup artist and hair colorist, she still manages to make conferences two or thrice per week during “mother-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week together with her father — Ryan used to spend these nights in the park.
“This time final yr I was working at a salon for the 1 percent 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan mentioned in an electronic mail Friday. “My old schedule would not have allowed for this, and who is aware of how my previous employer would have responded considering the clientele.”
Nonetheless, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.Zero, the subsequent main OWS occasion, scheduled for Saturday.
“We are re-occupying,” Ryan mentioned in an e mail. “I’m glad I did not put my sleeping bag and tent again in storage yet too!”
Ryan said Friday that MJ will be attending the brand new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying children 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 primary scene it was the banks stealing our money. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it back and giving it to people.”
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College OF Arduous KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are part of the motion more in thoughts than physique, and have been much less targeted on protest within the month for the reason that raid on Zuccotti, a key access point for both 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 Faculty of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends once they weren’t busy learning.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Transfer Your Money protest arrived at Foley Sq.. Hundreds of protesters flooded the sq.which is often a deserted public area surrounded by mammoth authorities buildings, and started 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 Courtroom building. After a couple of failed makes an attempt to shoo the protesters away through megaphone — “We don’t want no person to get harm!” was the last such warning — police unfurled orange netting and started pushing the group, together with 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 fine authorities.”
“I just need to return to college,” Frias cried as officers walked her back down the steps and past the barricade. She asked for help discovering her fiance.
At the Manhattan Criminal Court docket Constructing, the place Frias was anticipated to be arraigned, a security officer barred HuffPost from getting into. Occupy Wall Road protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and at the very least 21 others, in keeping with figures later provided by Moira Meltzer of the Nationwide Legal professionals Guild. Authorities had the courtroom building on lockdown till the group dispersed back to Zuccotti.
In keeping with the court clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as with obstructing authorities administration and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, retains saying again and again, ‘I wish to get out of right here,'” her fiance Acevedo informed HuffPost that night, back on the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She doesn’t even know what happened … I’m just staying right here for the evening, as a result of that is what we have been going to do. If she doesn’t get out tomorrow, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
That was the one night time 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’ legal issues.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo said in an email. “We’re each nonetheless not utterly over all that has happened.” He said he and Frias could not remark any additional, given the pending courtroom resolution.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Avenue. “If something, it simply made us need to do greater than we already had been,” Acevedo said.
In the previous few weeks, he has switched majors, from criminal justice to political science.
Massive Points, 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 available 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 makes an attempt by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Street. Extra serious circumstances of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, but Prince and different organizers likewise attributed such problems to malefactors from exterior 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 mentioned he had been looking to assert a cause for his own 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 particular person,” mentioned he got here to Zuccotti every day in the primary week of the occupation after which most days after that.
When he first arrived, he stated, a member of the finance committee was retaining $10,000 in cash within the park. “I made her go to the bank,” he stated, shaking his head. They switched the cash to the Amalgamated Financial institution owned by the Staff United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, mentioned he is been pissed off by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its development, though he cited the formation of a “spokes council” because the signal of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we would not be in Iraq right now if George Bush had to come in entrance of the [GA],” he mentioned. “However it is idealistic to think that everyone speaking about all the things at the identical time will get you anywhere.”
On the evening of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media group meeting when he heard screaming, then saw the thousand-plus police when the NYPD trucks hit the park with their lights.
To prevent such surprises in the future, Prince mentioned he is now growing the OWS Transparency Act, an inner highway map for Occupy communications. “Attempting to keep abreast of what’s going on is a full-time job,” he mentioned. “There should have been ongoing negotiations with the town.”
A secondary objective is to increase transparency across the motion’s working price range, currently allotted 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 mentioned the NYPD’s destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Road, which have risen above $600,000 in complete since September.
Prince additionally helped arrange final week’s anti-foreclosure day of motion, Occupy Our Homes, which some protesters saw as a brand new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Road itself search for a new, more permanent house.
During the day, nevertheless, he answers to a distinct boss. Back in early November, Prince said that he was again in sales and advertising and marketing. When asked where, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district however declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn web page lists his current occupation as marketing and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc.a personal espresso company, but it surely doesn’t seem to have been not too long ago updated.
“Of course I see the irony, however I’m sort of trying to do one thing 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 an excellent feeling concerning the stuff they’ve achieved.”
Asked in November whether or not the Occupy motion can survive, Prince stated, “Well, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We’d like another voice.”
In an interview final week, he didn’t hesitate. “There are large issues, massive problems,” he said, “and most individuals seem incapable of speaking about it.”
John Friesen has no trouble speaking, but he takes a different view. “By its personal actions, the existing power structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he stated final week. “These establishments and structures should be dismantled, and a more humane society must be built from the bottom up.”
As night time settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen started his “group watch” across the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll previous a cluster of police officers. In pairs, community watch volunteers would spend a number of hours per evening surveying the park for safety concerns, each inner and exterior. Circling the park, nonetheless, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their method a week later.
Many of the watch volunteers had not been skilled for reconnaissance or safety work, although some said on the time that they were 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’ve turn into extremely resourceful. I live roughly without money.”
He said he had been visiting New York to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks when Occupy Wall Street began in earnest, and as soon as he visited Zuccotti, he could not think about leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated via the OWS encampment in the weeks main as much as 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 meeting in a small park nearby for a later Occupy day of motion. He and different OWS organizers made it again by way of 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 genuine freedom and humanity,” Friesen stated of the police. “Though the raid bodily scattered us, it additionally permits us the chance — compels us, really — to gather ourselves, re-evaluate and refocus, using the experience of these miraculous months.”
Friesen and plenty of other OWS protesters nonetheless spend some days at Zuccotti, while at night they stick with hosts throughout town. However he says he and different organizers have turn into more curious about actions that they imagine will have a more direct impact, such Occupy Our Houses 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 fret about sustaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re attempting to achieve out to marginalized communities that we haven’t yet passed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the volume.”
One part of sustaining the camp consisted of maintaining order and good conduct. A sign headed “Good Neighbor Coverage,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS rules:
“Following respectful and good religion dialogue / zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol anyplace in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of private or public property.”
Around midnight following the Move Your Money march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a game of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, 51, read below a streetlamp close by.
Sharkey has been many issues, together with a musician — “it’s schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and part James Brown” — and a writer. A native New Yorker, he acquired concerned in OWS after he noticed the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the first OWS occasion that really acquired his attention. Earlier than that, he says, “I assumed it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, discovering it more durable and more durable to return house to Lengthy Island to sleep or shower. In the park, “even the younger youngsters are knowledgeable,” he stated, “and you really learn from folks once you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey mentioned, “I believe I will be living right here the rest of my life.”
Even the police stationed along the sting of the park offered lessons. Up the sidewalk from where Sharkey was reading, NYPD Officer Solar talked casually with a member of OWS. Both said such chats were common throughout the principally-quiet evening hours.
Solar stated he and other police recognized the frustrations of Occupiers. If you liked this post and you would such as to get more details regarding OPENS kindly visit our own website. “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, nonetheless, Sharkey had made one of his infrequent trips residence. Since then, he’s been in Florida visiting his two young daughters and largely “out of contact” with the motion. But Sharkey has never thought of OWS when it comes to weeks or months. “I believe it is lengthy-time period, not a ‘this 12 months’ or a ‘2012 election’ thing,” he said in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters should lobby members of Congress and maybe kind a 3rd get together. “The response because the raid has been to re-consider the movement and try to determine the easiest way to extend assist from the American folks.”
In an e mail, Sharkey stated he was nonetheless decided to struggle for the rights of all People, together with these he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are caught within the sand ready for every part to be calm and blissful.”
Protecting THE Motion ALIVE
Zuccotti is nearly as quiet within 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 Avenue had been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a educated nurse with a bullring in his nostril and a stethoscope round his neck, described his function within the Occupy Wall Avenue medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Charge.”
His mission, he mentioned, was easy: “make sure that folks stay alive.”
“It is not our responsibility to offer you every thing you need,” he added. “It is our responsibility to make sure this movement goes on.”
Kostora, who can also be a photojournalist, was on a 5-month cross-continental highway journey with his canine, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling financial savings and whatever his guitar could earn him when pals at house in New Mexico instructed him he should check out what was taking place in New York.
In Montreal on the time, he headed south, intending to remain just a few nights in Zuccotti and take photographs, however the weeks handed quickly. “Time will get clumped here,” he said.
While on watch, he swapped war tales with the other medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs the place that they had daily rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore purple 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 affected person got here in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a effectively-completed barbecue,” stated Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We’ve had a couple of coronary heart attacks, saved a number of lives,” mentioned Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “avenue medic.” Even if Dade was more than a couple of years away from a medical diploma, patients didn’t hold that in opposition to her. “There are too much of people who come to see us who haven’t seen a doctor in years,” she mentioned, “who would not be cared for otherwise.”
At the other end of the spectrum, retired New York doctor David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical college a long time earlier than Dade was born. Stead got here all the way down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the information, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical team.
“I simply imagine within the trigger,” he mentioned. “I think there needs to be extra fairness and distribution of cash, and more well being care for anybody. It should be something individuals ought to be able to count on, as a result of the U.S. really has the money.”
The night 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 affected person was being treated and another protester with heart problems was seeking safety.
In response to Kostora, police dragged him and the girl with heart issues across the street and threw them to the bottom. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the other patient, whilst cops slashed open the medical tents, he stated.
“I went up to each high-rating officer I might discover and instructed them now we have patients in there, we now have medical information in there, and they can stone island mustard hooded shimmer jacket not — it is unlawful for them to enter without a courtroom order, and they only ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
Since the raid, Kostora has targeted on “rebuilding.” His team has been making the rounds to websites all through the town where Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they’ll debut 4 “mobile clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical gear that the team can use during demonstrations. Other plans are in development for a extra everlasting, registered clinic “that will offer free well being care to all people, one hundred p.c,” and a medical observation team, currently searching for volunteers, that may attend protests to respond to — and doc — protesters’ accidents.
On the entire, “I think that the management inside the Occupy motion is beginning to come back out,” Kostora said. “We do not have a park to manage anymore, so now we are able to really concentrate on the place we take the movement.”
However Kostora mentioned Friday that he is kind of run by means of his savings, now counting on OWS meals and the generosity Stone Island Clothes UK of friends. “I don’t actually require a lot,” he said, “in addition to dog food.”
He is been searching for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical staff is a full-time position.
“Do not think I am going back to New Mexico soon,” 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 individuals’s kitchen, run almost solely on a powerful stockpile of donated provides and a few 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 whereas a big man — “Simply Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, baby” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black quickly became enmeshed in Occupy Wall Street after seeing the same experiences of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on call around the clock to make deliveries throughout the tri-state area — “Mainly, I just hearken to NPR all day,” he mentioned — however had been capable of spend most subsequent nights within the park.
“I went from, ‘I am gonna keep the night’ to ‘I’m gonna reside here,'” he mentioned.
Earlier than the raid, O’Black mentioned he believed the Zuccotti encampment was there to stay. When it was destroyed, he and his fellow marchers had simply arrived at Occupy Philadelphia, en route to Washington, D.C, and so they spent the remainder of the night watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would occur ultimately,” O’Black said. “The state responds to any menace with violence. We are able to see this repeating all through fashionable history.”
As soon as the marchers accomplished their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some extended their route one other roughly seven hundred miles to Atlanta.
Within the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy sites, a few of these protesters took the raid as a problem, pledging to “occupy the highway” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, however, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken half in Occupy Our Properties and other “day of motion” occasions.
“My position in the park now may be very similar,” he stated last week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothing and food to those in need. We simply do not have a house base right now.”
Wherever it ultimately 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 in this nation,” he mentioned, echoing his name to motion from a month earlier: “Why would you presumably sit there and let issues get worse