Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond Zuccotti
Shortly earlier than the brand new York Police Department forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Road protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Post 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 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.
However as protesters gear up for Saturday’s “Occupy 2.0” and the three-month anniversary of OWS, they’re additionally trying past Zuccotti. And most still say the motion is greater than a moment.
‘It is not GOING Anywhere’
On a vivid, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with a whole lot of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond City Hall to Foley Sq.. Ryan’s eight-yr-outdated daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.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 people to transfer their savings from large financial institutions to group banks and credit score unions.
“I need her to see what it is to be an lively citizen of her country,” Ryan mentioned throughout a fast break. When requested 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 strolling. “My sock is so annoying,” she mentioned, yanking at the offending footwear. “It won’t keep up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of decrease Manhattan, stalling traffic. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers stuck their hands 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 things to her in the best of terms,” Ryan mentioned of her daughter. “I did tell her in regards to the bailouts, and how the average particular person is suffering more attributable to 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 every week before the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the way forward for Occupy Wall Avenue. “After all, I hope one thing extra tangible comes of it,” she mentioned. “I believe we’ve solely seen the start. It is not going anyplace, even in the event that 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 turn out to be 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 Avenue’s “direct action” working group, which at present meets in group areas and workplace buildings inside a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters call “Liberty Sq..”
The NYPD raid might have offered the jolt that Occupy Wall Avenue wanted, Ryan mentioned. A month ago, she had grown frustrated with what she noticed as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by folks extra concerned with photo ops than protest. “They made what we have been all keen about look ridiculous from the skin,” she mentioned.
With those hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan stated, it has been easier to give attention to “day of action” occasions. Most recently, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood as part of a protest that occupied a foreclosed home.
However for Ryan, these events have been fewer and farther between as the vacation season has approached. A contract makeup artist and hair colorist, she nonetheless manages to make meetings two or three times per week during “mother-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week with her father — Ryan used to spend these nights in the park.
“This time last yr I was working at a salon for the 1 percent 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan said in an electronic mail Friday. “My old schedule wouldn’t have allowed for this, and who knows how my previous employer would have responded considering the clientele.”
Still, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.Zero, the following main OWS event, scheduled for Saturday.
“We are re-occupying,” Ryan said 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 can be attending the new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon figuring out children of Occupiers and wearing 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 money. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it again and giving it to individuals.”
(Story continues under the slideshow)
School OF Hard KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are a part of the movement extra in mind than body, and have been less targeted on protest within the month since the raid on Zuccotti, a key entry level for each originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a student 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 School of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends when they weren’t busy studying.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Move Your Cash protest arrived at Foley Square. Lots of of protesters flooded the sq.which is usually a deserted public space surrounded by mammoth government buildings, and started an hours-lengthy standoff with police who tried to disperse them.
Uniformed NYPD officers lined up throughout the street on the steps of the new York State Supreme Court constructing. After a few failed attempts to shoo the protesters away through megaphone — “We don’t desire nobody to get hurt!” was the final such warning — police unfurled orange netting and began pushing the crowd, together with a HuffPost reporter, back off the sidewalk. Others shoved protesters who resisted.
Within 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 just need to go back to varsity,” Frias cried as officers walked her back down the steps and beyond the barricade. She requested for help discovering her fiance.
At the Manhattan Criminal Court Constructing, the place Frias was expected to be arraigned, a security officer barred HuffPost from entering. Occupy Wall Street protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and a minimum of 21 others, in line with figures later supplied by Moira Meltzer of the National Attorneys stone island coats ebay Guild. Authorities had the court constructing on lockdown till the crowd dispersed back to Zuccotti.
In response to the courtroom clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, each misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, retains saying over and over, ‘I want to get out of here,'” her fiance Acevedo told HuffPost that night, back at the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She would not even know what occurred … I’m just staying right here for the night time, as a result of that is what we were going to do. If she would not get out tomorrow, I do not know what I’ll do.”
That was the one evening Acevedo spent in Zuccotti. Frias spent it in jail. Since then, they’ve had to worry extra about finals, work — Acevedo holds a full-time job — and Frias’ legal points.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo said in an email. “We’re both nonetheless not utterly over all that has happened.” He stated he and Frias couldn’t remark any additional, given the pending court decision.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Road. “If anything, it simply made us need to do more than we already have been,” Acevedo stated.
In the previous couple of 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 available bathroom services earlier than two Occupy Wall Street organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of the organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and comparable confrontations as “plant points,” or makes an attempt by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Street. Extra critical circumstances of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, however Prince and different organizers likewise attributed such problems to malefactors from outside 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 mentioned he had been looking to claim a cause for his personal at the same time that OWS started to receive 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 after which most days after that.
When he first arrived, he mentioned, a member of the finance committee was keeping $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’s been annoyed by the trouble OWS has had in managing its progress, although he cited the formation of a “spokes council” because the sign of an evolution toward centralized authority.
“Look, we wouldn’t be in Iraq right now if George Bush needed to are available in front of the [GA],” he said. “However it’s idealistic to assume that everybody talking about the whole lot at the identical time will get you anyplace.”
On the evening of the NYPD raid, Prince was at a media workforce assembly 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 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 town.”
A secondary aim is to increase transparency across the motion’s working funds, currently allotted by a brand new incarnation of the financial working group that Prince joined early on. It is now known as the accounting working group, and one other member said the NYPD’s destruction of the Zuccotti encampment spiked donations to Occupy Wall Avenue, which have risen above $600,000 in complete since September.
Prince also helped manage final week’s anti-foreclosure day of action, Occupy Our Homes, which some protesters noticed as a brand new focus. He is serving to Occupy Wall Street itself look for a new, extra permanent dwelling.
In the course of the day, nevertheless, he answers to a special boss. Again in early November, Prince mentioned that he was back in sales and advertising. When requested where, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district but declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn page lists his present occupation as advertising and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc.a non-public coffee company, but it surely doesn’t seem to have been lately up to date.
“In fact I see the irony, but I’m kind of looking to do one thing else,” he mentioned of his time in business, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical large Merck. “I’ve mainly averted it throughout the time I have been in New York. I haven’t got an excellent feeling concerning the stuff they’ve done.”
Requested in November whether or not the Occupy movement can survive, Prince mentioned, “Well, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We want an alternate voice.”
In an interview last week, he did not hesitate. “There are huge issues, big problems,” he stated, “and most individuals appear incapable of talking about it.”
John Friesen has no hassle speaking, but he takes a distinct view. “By its personal actions, the present energy structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he mentioned last week. “These institutions and buildings have to be dismantled, and a more humane society should be constructed from the ground up.”
As evening settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen started his “community watch” around the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll past a cluster of police officers. In pairs, community watch volunteers would spend a number of hours per evening surveying the park for security issues, each inner and exterior. Circling the park, nonetheless, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their manner per week later.
Most of the watch volunteers had not been skilled for reconnaissance or safety work, although some said at the time that they have been taking mediation courses. 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 stated, however “I’ve grow to be extraordinarily resourceful. I stay kind of with out cash.”
He stated he had been visiting New York to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 assaults when Occupy Wall Avenue began in earnest, and as soon as he visited Zuccotti, he could not think about leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated by the OWS encampment in the weeks leading up to the police action. Whereas the tents nonetheless stood, Friesen mentioned he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would solely 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 motion. He and other OWS organizers made it back by means of the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the guts of the park.
“They couldn’t 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 bodily scattered us, it additionally allows us the chance — compels us, actually — to collect ourselves, re-evaluate and refocus, utilizing the expertise of those miraculous months.”
Friesen and many different OWS protesters nonetheless spend some days at Zuccotti, whereas at evening they stick with hosts all through the city. However he says he and different organizers have develop into more eager about actions that they believe will have a more direct influence, such Occupy Our Properties 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 additional actions, now that they’re not obliged to fret about maintaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re trying 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 maintaining 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 faith dialogue / zero tolerance for medicine or alcohol anyplace in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of private or public property.”
Around midnight following the Transfer Your Cash march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a recreation of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, 51, learn underneath a streetlamp nearby.
Sharkey has been many things, together with a musician — “it is schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and half James Brown” — and a author. A local New Yorker, he obtained concerned in OWS after he noticed the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the primary OWS event that basically obtained his attention. Before that, he says, “I believed 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 Long Island to sleep or shower. Within the park, “even the younger kids are knowledgeable,” he stated, “and you actually be taught from individuals while 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 have $one hundred invoice in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he said as he gazed across the monetary district. “We get it.”
On the time of the raid, however, Sharkey had made one in all his infrequent journeys home. Since then, he’s been in Florida visiting his two young daughters and largely “out of contact” with the motion. However Sharkey has never thought of OWS in terms of weeks or months. “I believe 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 ought to lobby members of Congress and perhaps kind a third occasion. “The response since the raid has been to re-consider the movement and attempt to decide one of the simplest ways to extend support from the American people.”
In an email, Sharkey said he was nonetheless determined to battle for the rights of all Americans, together with these he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are stuck within the sand waiting for every part to be calm and blissful.”
Maintaining 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 Street had been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a skilled nurse with a bullring in his nostril and a stethoscope around his neck, described his position within the Occupy Wall Street medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Charge.”
His mission, he stated, was easy: “be certain folks keep alive.”
“It’s not our responsibility to offer you every little thing you want,” he added. “It is our responsibility to make sure this motion goes on.”
Kostora, who is also a photojournalist, was on a 5-month cross-continental road journey with his dog, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and whatever his guitar might earn him when mates at dwelling in New Mexico told him he ought to take a look at what was occurring in New York.
In Montreal at the time, he headed south, intending to stay a couple of nights in Zuccotti and take pictures, but the weeks passed quickly. “Time gets clumped right here,” he said.
While on watch, he swapped warfare tales with the other medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs where they’d day by day rotations of eight to 12 hours. They wore red crosses made from electrical tape, which matched the larger crosses on the tents.
In a case that remains to be fresh in Kostora’s mind, a affected person got here in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a nicely-executed barbecue,” said Alex Homolind, 20, one other medical volunteer.
“We have had a few heart assaults, saved a couple of lives,” said Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “road medic.” Despite the fact that Dade was more than a number of years away from a medical degree, patients didn’t hold that towards her. “There are loads of people who come to see us who haven’t seen a doctor in years,” she stated, “who would not be cared for otherwise.”
At the other finish of the spectrum, retired New York physician David Stead, sixty nine, graduated from medical faculty decades earlier than Dade was born. Stead came down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the news, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical workforce.
“I simply consider within the cause,” he stated. “I think there needs to be more equity and distribution of money, and extra well being care for anybody. It should be something folks should be capable of expect, as a result of the U.S. actually 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 patient was being treated and one other protester with heart problems was seeking safety.
In response to Kostora, police dragged him and the girl with heart issues throughout the road and threw them to the ground. Dr. Stead stayed behind to attend the opposite patient, at the same time as cops slashed open the medical tents, he stated.
“I went up to each excessive-ranking officer I could discover and advised them we have now patients in there, we’ve got medical records in there, and they cannot — it is unlawful for them to enter with out a courtroom order, and they simply ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
For the reason that raid, Kostora has centered on “rebuilding.” His crew has been making the rounds to websites all through town the place Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they will debut 4 “cell clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical gear that the workforce can use throughout demonstrations. Different plans are in growth for a more everlasting, registered clinic “that may offer free health care to everyone, a hundred %,” and a medical statement workforce, presently searching for volunteers, that can attend protests to answer — and document — protesters’ accidents.
On the entire, “I think that the leadership throughout the Occupy motion is starting to return out,” Kostora stated. “We do not have a park to manage anymore, so now we can truly concentrate on the place we take the motion.”
However Kostora mentioned Friday that he’s roughly run via his savings, now relying on OWS meals and the generosity of pals. “I do not actually require an excessive amount of,” he stated, “apart from dog food.”
He’s been searching for jobs however says his work with the OWS medical crew is a full-time position.
“Don’t assume I am going back to New Mexico quickly,” Kostora added, “or wherever for that matter. I am too deep.”
‘Individuals AREN’T GOING TO Cease’
Across from the medical tents, at the center of the park, was the folks’s kitchen, run almost totally on a powerful stockpile of donated supplies and a few money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed 1000’s daily, stated volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, again in November, seated on an overturned bucket in the kitchen whereas a big man — “Simply Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, child” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black rapidly grew to become enmeshed in Occupy Wall Road after seeing the identical 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 space — “Principally, I just take heed to NPR all day,” he mentioned — however had been capable of spend most subsequent nights within the park.
“I went from, ‘I am gonna stay the night time’ to ‘I am gonna stay right here,'” he mentioned.
Earlier than the raid, O’Black stated he believed the Zuccotti encampment was there to stay. 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 happen ultimately,” O’Black mentioned. “The state responds to any risk with violence. We will see this repeating all through trendy historical past.”
As soon as the marchers completed their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some prolonged their route one other roughly seven-hundred miles to Atlanta.
Within the wake of continued crackdowns at 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, nevertheless, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken half in Occupy Our Properties and different “day of motion” occasions.
“My position within the park now may be very comparable,” he stated last week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothes and meals to those in want. We just haven’t got a house base right now.”
Wherever it ultimately goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy motion will endure. “People aren’t going to cease being upset about the current state of affairs in this nation,” he mentioned, echoing his name to motion from a month earlier: “Why would you probably sit there and let issues get worse