Occupy 2.Zero: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Past Zuccotti
Shortly before the brand new York Police Division forcefully evicted Occupy Wall Road protesters from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15, The Huffington Post spent 24 hours surveying life in their tent city. One month later, with the tents lengthy since slashed open and thrown away and almost each 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 looking beyond Zuccotti. And most still say the movement is more than a second.
‘It’s not GOING Anywhere’
On a vivid, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy Ryan, 35, marched with hundreds of Occupy protesters from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond Metropolis Corridor to Foley Sq.. Ryan’s 8-12 months-outdated daughter, Mary Jane Thorne, held her hand and marched alongside.
They’d traveled from Jersey City to take part in the march, organized along side a campaign to encourage people to switch their savings from giant financial institutions to neighborhood banks and credit score unions.
“I need her to see what it is to be an energetic 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, however, when they resumed strolling. “My sock is so annoying,” she said, yanking on the offending footwear. “It will not keep up.”
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, stalling site visitors. The driver of a paralyzed SUV honked his horn, while passengers caught their hands out from beyond tinted windows and made peace signs.
It was the primary protest for Mary Jane, whom her mother calls MJ. “I put every thing to her in the best of terms,” Ryan mentioned of her daughter. “I did tell her about the bailouts, and how the typical individual is suffering more because of irresponsibility by the banks and our authorities.” Later in the day, MJ appeared on the OWS video livestream, sticking her tongue out at every bank as she marched by.
Little over a week earlier than the NYPD raid on Zuccotti Park, Ryan speculated about the way forward for Occupy Wall Avenue. “After all, I hope one thing more tangible comes of it,” she stated. “I feel we have only seen the beginning. It’s not going anywhere, 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-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 Road’s “direct motion” working group, which presently meets in neighborhood spaces and office buildings within a few blocks’ radius of Zuccotti — which she and other protesters call “Liberty Square.”
The NYPD raid could have supplied the jolt that Occupy Wall Avenue needed, Ryan stated. A month in the past, she had grown frustrated with what she noticed as stagnation: a packed, stifling encampment beset by people more occupied with photograph ops than protest. “They made what we were all passionate about look ridiculous from the surface,” she mentioned.
With these hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan stated, it’s been easier to give attention to “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 residence.
However for Ryan, those events have been fewer and farther between as the vacation season has approached. A freelance makeup artist and hair colorist, she nonetheless manages to make conferences two or 3 times per week throughout “mom-allotted hours.” Mary Jane spends half the week together with her father — Ryan used to spend these nights in the park.
“This time last yr I used to be working at a salon for the 1 % 10-12hrs a day,” Ryan mentioned in an e mail Friday. “My outdated schedule wouldn’t have allowed for this, and who knows how my old employer would have responded contemplating the clientele.”
Nonetheless, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.Zero, the subsequent main OWS event, scheduled for Saturday.
“We are re-occupying,” Ryan said in an e mail. “I’m glad I did not put my sleeping bag and tent back in storage yet too!”
Ryan stated Friday that MJ might be attending the brand new occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying kids of Occupiers and carrying a beloved T-shirt she made at an artwork station in Zuccotti. It features two scenes, as Ryan describes them: “In the primary scene it was the banks stealing our cash. The second scene was her strongest Pokemon taking it again and giving it to folks.”
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College OF Exhausting KNOCKS
Some Occupiers are a part of the movement more in mind than body, and have been much less targeted on protest in the month for the reason that raid on Zuccotti, a key access level for each originators and onlookers.
Desiree Frias, 18, a scholar at Bard Faculty at Simon’s Rock, was a informal Occupier in November. She and her fiance, Hector Acevedo, 22, who studies at John Jay School of Criminal Justice, attended rallies on weekends once they weren’t busy learning.
Frias was arrested after the OWS Move Your Cash protest arrived at Foley Square. A whole lot of protesters flooded the sq.which is often a deserted public area surrounded by mammoth authorities buildings, and began 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 Courtroom constructing. After a couple of failed attempts to shoo the protesters away through megaphone — “We don’t desire no one to get harm!” was the final such warning — police unfurled orange netting and began pushing the crowd, together with a HuffPost reporter, again 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 government.”
“I just need to go back to school,” Frias cried as officers walked her back down the steps and beyond the barricade. She asked for help finding her fiance.
At the Manhattan Criminal Courtroom Constructing, where Frias was anticipated to be arraigned, a safety officer barred HuffPost from coming into. Occupy Wall Road protesters had arrived to decry the arrests of Frias and not less than 21 others, according to figures later offered by Moira Meltzer of the Nationwide Attorneys Guild. Authorities had the court docket building on lockdown until the gang dispersed again to Zuccotti.
In response to the court docket clerk, Frias was charged with assaulting an officer, a felony, as well as with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest, each misdemeanors.
“She’s freaking out, keeps saying time and again, ‘I wish to get out of right here,'” her fiance Acevedo instructed HuffPost that evening, back on the OWS kitchen in Zuccotti. “She does not even know what happened … I’m just staying right here for the night time, because that’s what we have been going to do. If she does not get out tomorrow, I do not know what I’ll do.”
That was the only night time 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 issues.
“Her trial is not over,” Acevedo mentioned in an e mail. “We’re both still not utterly over all that has happened.” He stated he and Frias could not remark any further, given the pending courtroom choice.
The crash course in political protest has not thwarted their curiosity in Occupy Wall Road. “If anything, it just made us wish to do greater than we already have been,” Acevedo stated.
In the previous couple of weeks, he has switched majors, from criminal justice to political science.
Huge Issues, Huge Cash
Upon returning from the protest of Frias’ arraignment, tempers ran excessive. A man who entered the camp’s “info tent” angrily questioned HuffPost about accessible bathroom services earlier than two Occupy Wall Road organizers stepped in.
After shooing him off, one of the organizers, Darrell Prince, dismissed the incident and similar confrontations as “plant points,” or makes an attempt by opponents to undermine Occupy Wall Street. More critical circumstances of violence and drug use had arisen at Zuccotti, but 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 chilly stone bench, he stated he had been looking to say a cause for his personal at the same time that OWS began to obtain donations on a scale that organizers had issue processing. Prince, who describes himself as a “rights particular person,” stated he got here to Zuccotti every single day in the primary week of the occupation after gta 4 stone island which most days after that.
When he first arrived, he stated, a member of the finance committee was retaining $10,000 in cash in the park. “I made her go to the bank,” he said, shaking his head. They switched the money to the Amalgamated Financial institution owned by the Employees United labor union.
Like Katy Ryan, Prince, 35, said he is been pissed off by the difficulty OWS has had in managing its development, although he cited the formation of a “spokes council” because the signal 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. “But it is idealistic to assume that everyone talking about all the things at the identical time will get you anyplace.”
On the night time 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 sooner or later, Prince mentioned he’s now creating the OWS Transparency Act, an internal road map for Occupy communications. “Making an attempt to maintain abreast of what’s going on is a full-time job,” he mentioned. “There ought to have been ongoing negotiations with town.”
A secondary purpose is to extend transparency across the motion’s working funds, at present allotted by a brand new incarnation of the monetary working group that Prince joined early on. It’s now known as the accounting working group, and one other member stated the NYPD’s 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 last 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 Street itself search for a new, more permanent dwelling.
Throughout the day, nevertheless, he answers to a unique boss. Again in early November, Prince stated that he was again in sales and advertising and marketing. When requested where, he pointed toward the darkened skyscrapers of the monetary district but declined to elaborate. His LinkedIn web page lists his present occupation as advertising and operations consulting for Maria’s Cup, Inc.a personal espresso company, nevertheless it doesn’t seem to have been lately up to date.
“In fact I see the irony, however I am type of trying to do one thing else,” he stated of his time in business, which has included a stint at pharmaceutical large Merck. “I’ve principally avoided it in the course of the time I have been in New York. I don’t have a great feeling about the stuff they’ve carried out.”
Requested in November whether or not the Occupy motion can survive, Prince stated, “Effectively, I hope so,” with some reservation. “We’d like another voice.”
In an interview final week, he did not hesitate. “There are huge points, massive problems,” he stated, “and most individuals appear incapable of speaking about it.”
John Friesen has no trouble talking, but he takes a unique view. “By its personal actions, the existing power structure has exposed itself as illegitimate,” he said last week. “These establishments and buildings should be dismantled, and a more humane society must be built from the bottom up.”
As night settled in after the arrest of Frias and others, Friesen began his “community watch” around the Zuccotti encampment with a stroll previous a cluster of police officers. In pairs, group watch volunteers would spend several hours per evening surveying the park for security concerns, both inner and external. Circling the park, however, gave them no forewarning of the thousand-plus riot cops headed their method a week later.
Lots of the watch volunteers had not been skilled for reconnaissance or security work, though some mentioned on the time that they were taking mediation classes. Friesen, 27, described himself primarily as an activist from Berkeley, Calif.who had been involved in protests for years. He hasn’t held a “traditional job” since 2007, Friesen mentioned, but “I’ve change into extraordinarily resourceful. I stay more or less with out cash.”
He mentioned he had been visiting New York to observe the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 assaults when Occupy Wall Road started in earnest, and as soon as he visited Zuccotti, he couldn’t think about leaving.
Rumors of an impending NYPD raid had circulated through the OWS encampment within the weeks leading as much as the police action. Whereas the tents still stood, Friesen stated he thought an “inevitable” police crackdown would only strengthen the Occupy movement.
When it lastly 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 the police cordon and clustered around the kitchen at the center 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. “Though the raid bodily scattered us, it additionally permits us the opportunity — compels us, actually — to collect ourselves, re-evaluate and refocus, using the expertise of these miraculous months.”
Friesen and many different OWS protesters still spend some days at Zuccotti, whereas at night they stay with hosts throughout the town. But he says he and other organizers have change into more interested in actions that they believe will have a more direct influence, 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 up to take part in additional actions, now that they are not obliged to worry about maintaining the Zuccotti camp. “We’re attempting to achieve out to marginalized communities that we have not yet passed the mike to,” he says, “and crank up the amount.”
One a part of maintaining the camp consisted of maintaining order and good conduct. A sign headed “Good Neighbor Policy,” posted on the marble wall surrounding Zuccotti, listed the OWS guidelines:
“Following respectful and good religion dialogue / zero tolerance for medication or alcohol anywhere in Liberty Square / zero tolerance for verbal abuse / abuse of private or public property.”
Round midnight following the Transfer Your Cash march, a protester standing atop the wall joined in a sport of “Marco Polo.” Roy Sharkey, fifty one, read under a streetlamp nearby.
Sharkey has been many things, including a musician — “it is schizophrenic, partly Jimmy Hendrix and half James Brown” — and a writer. A native New Yorker, he bought involved in OWS after he saw the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the primary OWS occasion that basically got his attention. Earlier than that, he says, “I thought it had been ‘Occupy for a Day.'”
After that, he spent most nights at Zuccotti, finding it harder and harder to return residence to Long Island to sleep or shower. Within the park, “even the young children are educated,” he mentioned, “and you actually be taught from people when you sleep shoulder to shoulder.”
Priort to the raid, Sharkey mentioned, “I believe I will be living right here the remainder of my life.”
Even the police stationed alongside the edge of the park supplied lessons. Up the sidewalk from where Sharkey was studying, NYPD Officer Sun talked casually with a member of OWS. Both mentioned such chats have been widespread throughout the largely-quiet night hours.
Sun mentioned he and different police acknowledged the frustrations of Occupiers. “It’s like they’ve $one hundred bill in his pocket and are shoplifting a shirt,” he mentioned as he gazed across the financial district. “We get it.”
On the time of the raid, nevertheless, Sharkey had made one of his infrequent journeys home. Since then, he’s been in Florida visiting his two young daughters and largely “out of contact” with the movement. But Sharkey has by no means thought of OWS when it comes to weeks or months. “I feel it’s lengthy-time period, not a ‘this year’ or a ‘2012 election’ thing,” he stated in November.
A month later, he restated his conviction, suggesting that Occupy protesters must lobby members of Congress and maybe kind a 3rd occasion. “The response since the raid has been to re-consider the motion and attempt to decide one of the simplest ways to increase support from the American individuals.”
In an e-mail, Sharkey mentioned he was still decided to battle for the rights of all People, together with those he derides as “pathetic scared rabbits whose heads are stuck in the sand ready for every thing to be calm and blissful.”
Retaining THE Movement ALIVE
Zuccotti is sort of 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 Street had been still standing.
Then, Pauly Kostora, 27, a skilled nurse with a bullring in his nostril and a stethoscope round his neck, described his position within the Occupy Wall Road medical group as “AIC — Asshole in Charge.”
His mission, he stated, was easy: “be sure people stay alive.”
“It is not our responsibility to give you the whole lot you want,” he added. “It is our duty to make sure this movement goes on.”
Kostora, who can also be a photojournalist, was on a five-month cross-continental street journey together with his canine, Zephyr, getting by on dwindling savings and no matter his guitar might earn him when associates at residence in New Mexico informed him he ought to check out what was taking place in New York.
In Montreal on the time, he headed south, intending to remain a couple of nights in Zuccotti and take images, but the weeks handed rapidly. “Time gets clumped here,” he said.
Whereas on watch, he swapped battle tales with the opposite medical volunteers, some who arrived after full-time jobs the place they had day by 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 remains to be fresh in Kostora’s thoughts, a affected person came in with osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone marrow. “That foot was like a properly-finished barbecue,” stated Alex Homolind, 20, another medical volunteer.
“We have had a number of coronary gta 4 stone island heart assaults, saved just a few lives,” said Maxine Dade, 17, a self-styled “avenue medic.” Even though Dade was greater than a few years away from a medical degree, patients didn’t hold that in opposition to her. “There are quite a bit of people that come to see us who haven’t seen a physician in years,” she stated, “who wouldn’t be cared for otherwise.”
At the other finish of the spectrum, retired New York physician David Stead, 69, graduated from medical faculty decades earlier than Dade was born. Stead got here right down to Zuccotti after seeing it on the information, and upon arriving, he volunteered for the medical crew.
“I simply imagine within the trigger,” he stated. “I believe there should be more equity and distribution of money, and more well being care for anybody. It must be one thing folks ought to be capable of count on, as a result of the U.S. really has the cash.”
The evening 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 one other protester with heart problems was looking for protection.
In accordance with 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 other affected person, even as cops slashed open the medical tents, he stated.
“I went up to each excessive-rating officer I might discover and informed them we’ve patients in there, now we have medical information in there, and they can not — it is illegal for them to enter and not using a courtroom order, and they just ignored me,” Kostora recounted a month later.
For the reason that raid, Kostora has focused on “rebuilding.” His staff has been making the rounds to sites throughout town the place Occupy protesters have gathered. This Saturday, they will debut four “mobile clinics,” which Kostora described as suitcases of medical tools that the staff can use throughout demonstrations. Different plans are in growth for a more everlasting, registered clinic “that can provide free health care to everyone, 100 %,” and a medical remark group, at the moment looking for volunteers, that may attend protests to answer — and document — protesters’ injuries.
On the whole, “I believe that the leadership throughout the Occupy movement is beginning to come out,” Kostora mentioned. “We don’t have a park to handle anymore, so now we can actually give attention to where we take the motion.”
But Kostora said Friday that he’s more or less run by his financial savings, now counting on OWS food and the generosity of friends. “I don’t really require too much,” he mentioned, “apart from dog food.”
He’s been looking for jobs but says his work with the OWS medical staff is a full-time place.
“Do not assume I am going back to New Mexico soon,” Kostora added, “or anywhere for that matter. I am too deep.”
‘People AREN’T GOING TO Stop’
Across from the medical tents, at the center of the park, was the folks’s kitchen, run nearly completely on an impressive stockpile of donated provides and a few money from the finance working group.
The kitchen feed hundreds daily, stated volunteer Patrick O’Black, 24, again in November, seated on an overturned bucket in the kitchen while a big man — “Simply Ice, from Jamaica, Queens, child” — washed dishes in plastic tubs.
A truck driver from Morristown, N.J.O’Black quickly grew to become 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 around the clock to make deliveries across the tri-state area — “Mainly, I simply listen to NPR all day,” he said — but had been in a position to spend most subsequent nights in the park.
“I went from, ‘I’m gonna stay the night time’ to ‘I’m gonna live right here,'” he mentioned.
Before the raid, O’Black said 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 happen finally,” O’Black mentioned. “The state responds to any threat with Stone Island Sale violence. We are able to see this repeating all through fashionable historical past.”
Once the marchers completed their 240-mile trek to the nation’s capital, some extended their route another roughly 700 miles to Atlanta.
In the wake of continued crackdowns at other Occupy sites, some of those protesters took the raid as a challenge, pledging to “occupy the road” in lieu of an encampment.
O’Black, however, returned to Zuccotti, and has taken half in Occupy Our Homes and other “day of action” events.
“My position within the park now is very comparable,” he mentioned final week. “I nonetheless work, delivering clothes and food to these in want. We simply do not have a home base proper now.”
Wherever it finally goes, O’Black expressed confidence that the Occupy movement will endure. “People aren’t going to stop being upset about the present state of affairs in this nation,” he mentioned, echoing his name to action from a month earlier: “Why would you possibly sit there and let things get worse