Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond 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 of their tent metropolis. One month later, with the tents lengthy since slashed open and thrown away and virtually each signal of what happened there erased from the park, HuffPost surveyed those self same protesters to see whose occupation continues and who has moved on.
‘It’s not GOING Anywhere’
On a shiny, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with lots of of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond City Corridor to Foley Sq.. Ryan’s eight-12 months-old daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey City to take part in the march, organized together with a campaign to encourage folks to transfer their savings from giant monetary establishments to group banks and credit unions.
“I would like her to see what it is to be an energetic citizen of her country,” Ryan stated throughout a fast break. When asked what she thought about the march, Mary Jane appeared bashfully at her mother, then at the ground. She did voice her opinions on one other matter, nevertheless, when they resumed walking. “My sock is so annoying,” she mentioned, yanking at the offending footwear. “It will not keep up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, stalling 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 mother calls MJ. “I put all the things to her in the best of terms,” Ryan stated of her daughter. “I did inform her about the bailouts, and the way the average particular person is suffering more due to irresponsibility by the banks and our authorities.” Later within the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at every bank as she marched by.
Little over every week before the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the way forward for Occupy Wall Avenue. “In fact, I hope one thing extra tangible comes of it,” she said. “I think we’ve solely seen the start. It isn’t going anywhere, even if they did come in and dismantle the park.”
Within the month since police did simply that, slashing tents, trashing books and arresting bus-a great deal of protesters, Ryan has grow to be more involved in OWS. She says she visited the park the morning after the raid to see what was left and found herself galvanized.
Ryan has since joined Occupy Wall Avenue’s “direct motion” working group, which currently meets in group areas and office buildings inside just a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters name “Liberty Square.”
The NYPD raid could have offered the jolt that Occupy Wall Avenue wanted, Ryan Stone Island Online stated. A month in the past, she had grown frustrated with what she noticed as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by folks extra concerned with picture ops than protest. “They made what we were all keen about look ridiculous from the outside,” she said.
With these hangers-on largely gone, Ryan stated, it has been simpler to focus on “day of action” events. Most lately, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as a part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed house.
But for Ryan, those 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 conferences two or thrice every week throughout “mother-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week along with her father — Ryan used to spend those nights within the park.
“This time final year I used to be working at a salon for the 1 % 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan mentioned in an email Friday. “My old schedule wouldn’t have allowed for this, and who is aware of how my old employer would have responded contemplating the clientele.”
Nonetheless, 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 email. “I’m glad I didn’t put my sleeping bag and tent again in storage yet too!”
Ryan mentioned Friday that MJ shall be attending the brand new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon figuring out youngsters of Occupiers and carrying a beloved T-shirt she made at an artwork 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 individuals.”
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Faculty OF Hard KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are part of the motion extra in thoughts than physique, and have been much less focused on protest within the month for the reason that raid on Zuccotti, a key access level for each originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a student at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, was a casual Occupier in November. She and her fiance, Hector Acevedo, 22, who research at John Jay School of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends after they weren’t busy learning.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Move Your Money protest arrived at Foley Sq.. Tons of of protesters flooded the square, which is usually a deserted public house 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 road on the steps of the brand new York State Supreme Court docket constructing. After a few failed makes an attempt to shoo the protesters away via megaphone — “We don’t want no one to get damage!” was the final such warning — police unfurled orange netting and started pushing the gang, including a HuffPost reporter, back off the sidewalk. Others shoved protesters who resisted.
In the chaos, the police made an instance of Frias, dragging her, sobbing, up the courthouse steps and cuffing her beneath the words of George Washington etched into its edifice: “The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of fine authorities.”
“I simply want to return 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 Court docket Building, where Frias was anticipated to be arraigned, a safety officer barred HuffPost from coming into. Occupy Wall Avenue protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and no less than 21 others, based on figures later provided by Moira Meltzer of the National Lawyers Guild. Authorities had the court docket constructing on lockdown till the gang dispersed back to Zuccotti.
Based on the court 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 again and again, ‘I need to get out of right here,'” her fiance Acevedo informed HuffPost that night time, again on the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She doesn’t even know what occurred … I am simply staying here for the evening, because that’s what we have been going to do. If she does not get out tomorrow, I don’t know what I will do.”
That was the one evening 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’ authorized issues.
“Her trial isn’t over,” Acevedo said in an email. “We’re each nonetheless not completely over all that has occurred.” He stated he and Frias could not comment any further, given the pending courtroom resolution.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their interest in Occupy Wall Avenue. “If anything, it just made us want 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, Large Cash
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran excessive. A man who entered the camp’s “information tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about obtainable bathroom facilities before two Occupy Wall Road 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 issues 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 personal 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 particular person,” stated 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 mentioned, a member of the finance committee was holding $10,000 in cash within the park. “I made her go to the financial institution,” he stated, shaking his head. They switched the cash to the Amalgamated Financial institution owned by the Employees United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, stated he’s been pissed off by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its development, although he cited the formation of a “spokes council” as the sign of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we would not be in Iraq proper now if George Bush needed to are available front of the [GA],” he said. “However it’s idealistic to assume that everybody talking about every part at the same time will get you anywhere.”
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 mentioned he is now creating the OWS Transparency Act, an internal street map for Occupy communications. “Attempting to keep abreast of what’s going on is a full-time job,” he mentioned. “There ought to have been ongoing negotiations with the city.”
A secondary objective is to extend transparency across the motion’s working funds, at the moment allotted by a brand new incarnation of the financial working group that Prince joined early on. It is now referred to as the accounting working group, and one other member said the NYPD’s stone island coat amazon destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Street, which have risen above $600,000 in whole since September.
Prince also helped organize final week’s anti-foreclosure day of motion, Occupy Our Houses, which some protesters noticed as a brand new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Avenue itself look for a brand new, extra everlasting dwelling.
In the course of the day, nonetheless, he solutions to a distinct boss. Back in early November, Prince mentioned that he was again in sales and marketing. When asked the place, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the financial district however 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 firm, nevertheless it does not seem to have been not too long ago updated.
“Of course I see the irony, however I am sort of looking to do something else,” he stated of his time in enterprise, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical giant Merck. “I’ve mainly prevented it in the course of the time I’ve been in New York. I don’t have a good feeling in regards to the stuff they’ve achieved.”
Asked in November whether the Occupy movement can survive, Prince stated, “Nicely, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We need another voice.”
In an interview last week, he didn’t hesitate. “There are big points, massive problems,” he stated, “and most individuals seem incapable of speaking about it.”
John Friesen has no trouble talking, however he takes a special view. “By its personal actions, the prevailing power structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he mentioned final week. “These institutions and structures should be dismantled, and a more humane society must be built from the bottom up.”
As evening settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen started his “group watch” around the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll past a cluster of police officers. In pairs, group watch volunteers would spend a number of hours per evening surveying the park for security concerns, both inside and exterior. Circling the park, however, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their manner a week later.
Many of the watch volunteers had not been trained for reconnaissance or safety work, though some stated at 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 out to be extremely resourceful. I dwell roughly without money.”
He said he had been visiting New York to observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/eleven attacks when Occupy Wall Road began in earnest, and once he visited Zuccotti, he couldn’t imagine leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated by the OWS encampment within the weeks main up to the police action. While the tents still stood, Friesen mentioned he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would only strengthen the Occupy motion.
When it lastly began, Friesen was wrapping up a planning meeting in a small park close by for a later Occupy day of motion. He and different OWS organizers made it again via the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the heart of the park.
“They couldn’t stand the direct critique, the nascent counterpoint of a free society, the explosive expressions of genuine freedom and humanity,” Friesen said of the police. “Although the raid bodily scattered us, it also permits us the opportunity — compels us, really — to gather ourselves, re-evaluate and refocus, using the expertise of those miraculous months.”
Friesen and many different OWS protesters still spend some days at Zuccotti, while at night they stay with hosts all through town. But he says he and other organizers have turn into more interested in actions that they consider may have a extra direct affect, such Occupy Our Houses and a march to Goldman Sachs’ New York workplaces in solidarity with sister protests out west.
Friesen believes that many OWS protesters have been freed up to take part in more actions, now that they are now 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 amount.”
One a 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 guidelines:
“Following respectful and good faith dialogue / zero tolerance for medication or alcohol wherever in Liberty Sq. / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of personal or public property.”
Round midnight following the Move Your Money march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a sport of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, fifty one, read underneath a streetlamp close by.
Sharkey has been many issues, including a musician — “it is schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and part James Brown” — and a writer. A local New Yorker, he received concerned in OWS after he saw the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the first OWS event that really received his consideration. Earlier than that, he says, “I assumed it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, finding it harder and more durable to return house to Lengthy Island to sleep or shower. Within the park, “even the younger children are knowledgeable,” he stated, “and you actually be taught from people when you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey mentioned, “I think I will be residing right here the rest of my life.”
Even the police stationed along the sting of the park offered lessons. Up the sidewalk from the place Sharkey was studying, NYPD Officer Sun talked casually with a member of OWS. Both stated such chats have been common during the principally-quiet night hours.
Sun said he and other police acknowledged the frustrations of Occupiers. “It’s like they’ve $a hundred invoice in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he said as he gazed across the monetary district. “We get it.”
At the time of the raid, nonetheless, Sharkey had made one among his infrequent journeys home. Since then, he’s been in Florida visiting his two younger daughters and largely “out of contact” with the motion. But Sharkey has never thought of OWS in terms of weeks or months. “I believe it’s lengthy-time period, not a ‘this 12 months’ or a ‘2012 election’ factor,” he said in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters must foyer members of Congress and maybe kind a 3rd party. “The response since the raid has been to re-evaluate the motion and attempt to resolve one of the simplest ways to extend support from the American people.”
In an email, Sharkey stated he was nonetheless determined to fight for the rights of all Americans, including those he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are caught within the sand ready for every little thing to be calm and blissful.”
Holding THE Motion ALIVE
Zuccotti is almost 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 Road had been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a skilled nurse with a bullring in his nose and a stethoscope around his neck, described his function within the Occupy Wall Avenue medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Charge.”
His mission, he said, was simple: “make sure folks keep alive.”
“It’s not our duty to offer you all the things you want,” he added. “It is our responsibility to make sure this movement goes on.”
Kostora, who is also a photojournalist, was on a 5-month cross-continental highway journey with his dog, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and whatever his guitar might earn him when pals at home in New Mexico told him he ought to take a look at what was occurring in New York.
In Montreal on the time, he headed south, intending to stay a number of nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, but the weeks passed shortly. “Time will get clumped right here,” he said.
While on watch, he swapped struggle stories with the opposite medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs the place that they had every day rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore purple crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the bigger crosses on the tents.
In a case that continues to be recent in Kostora’s thoughts, a patient came in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a nicely-achieved barbecue,” stated Alex Homolind, 20, another medical volunteer.
“We’ve had just a few coronary heart attacks, saved just a few lives,” stated Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “avenue medic.” Even supposing Dade was greater than a couple of years away from a medical diploma, patients didn’t hold that in opposition to her. “There are a lot of people that come to see us who have not seen a physician in years,” she mentioned, “who wouldn’t be cared for in any other case.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, retired New York doctor David Stead, 69, graduated from medical faculty many years before Dade was born. Stead got here right down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the news, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical group.
“I just believe in the trigger,” he mentioned. “I feel there must be extra fairness and distribution of cash, and more health care for anyone. It ought to be one thing people ought to be capable of count on, because the U.S. really 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 another protester with coronary heart problems was searching for protection.
According to Kostora, police dragged him and the woman with heart problems throughout the street and threw them to the ground. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the opposite affected person, at the same time as cops slashed open the medical tents, he stated.
“I went up to each high-ranking officer I could discover and informed them we now have patients in there, we’ve medical records in there, and they cannot — it is unlawful for them to enter with no courtroom order, and they simply ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
For the reason that raid, Kostora has centered on “rebuilding.” His team has been making the rounds to websites throughout the town where Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they will debut 4 “mobile clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical gear that the group can use throughout demonstrations. Different plans are in development for a more permanent, registered clinic “that may offer free health care to everyone, one hundred %,” and a medical remark staff, presently in search of volunteers, that may attend protests to answer — and document — protesters’ accidents.
On the entire, “I believe that the leadership throughout the Occupy motion is beginning to come back out,” Kostora stated. “We don’t have a park to manage anymore, so now we can really give attention to the place we take the movement.”
However Kostora said Friday that he’s more or less run via his financial savings, now counting on OWS meals and the generosity of friends. “I do not really require a lot,” he mentioned, “moreover dog food.”
He’s been looking for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical staff is a full-time place.
“Don’t suppose I’m going again to New Mexico soon,” Kostora added, “or anywhere for that matter. I am too deep.”
‘Folks AREN’T GOING TO Stop’
Across from the medical tents, at the guts of the park, was the folks’s kitchen, run nearly totally on an impressive stockpile of donated provides and some money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed hundreds each day, mentioned volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, back in November, seated on an overturned bucket within the kitchen while a big man — “Just Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, child” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black quickly turned enmeshed in Occupy Wall Street after seeing the same studies of the Brooklyn Bridge arrests that mobilized Roy Sharkey. His job has him on call across the clock to make deliveries throughout the tri-state space — “Basically, I simply take heed to NPR all day,” he said — but had been in a position to spend most subsequent nights in the park.
“I went from, ‘I am gonna keep the night time’ to ‘I am gonna live right here,'” he said.
Before 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, and they spent the rest of the night watching streaming video of the melee in New York.
“We knew the raids would occur eventually,” O’Black stated. “The state responds to any menace with violence. We can see this repeating all through fashionable history.”
Once the marchers accomplished their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some prolonged their route one other roughly seven-hundred miles to Atlanta.
In the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy sites, a few of these protesters took the raid as a challenge, pledging to “occupy the street” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, however, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken part in Occupy Our Houses and other “day of action” occasions.
“My position within the park now is very similar,” he said final week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothing and meals to these in want. We simply do not have a house base right now.”
Wherever it eventually goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy movement will endure. “Folks aren’t going to cease being upset about the present state of affairs on this country,” he stated, echoing his call to motion from a month earlier: “Why would you probably sit there and let things get worse