If you were anywhere and heard the news, then you heard that the NYC police cleared Zuccotti Park this week. The protesters were not allowed to enter again with tents. The maintenance crew power-washed the park and is now installing Christmas lights in the trees. It’s hardly the hectic scene when people slept here. Security does a bag check for camping gear.
The crowds have thinned considerably. The drummers drum on. The homeless and the addicts are gone. There are still folks from all walks of life here. The group is just smaller. Perhaps it’s the cold. It was a very cold day even though the thermometer read 50 degrees. Perhaps the group is reorganizing.
Some very mainstream people are about. The UFT teachers union and Local 100 union of food service and restaurants were here. College kids brought cardboard signs. It remains a movement without a clear agenda. The demonstration was for ‘Occupy Food’ against corporate food processing and unhealthy food choices.
For the moment OWS is not news. Police presence was prominent by the number of vehicles parked. However the officers were in the vans keeping warm. By the number of diverse protest signs, there remains an absence of a message. Some might disagree, but Occupy Food is hardly a cause that will get people to the polls to make a difference. Change, what there is of it these days (see: upcoming budget crisis in progress) is accomplished through political action. From my view over the fence, there’s a lot of noise but no substance.
Another perspective appears as an editorial in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/opinion/sunday/kristof-occupy-the-agenda.html
I returned to Zuccotti Park today. Since I was there, I have been to Occupy St. Louis and NYC endured a surprise winter Nor’easter, which dumped a heavy wet snow. Immediate calls went out for winter gear. The city removed gasoline and electric generators in the name of safety. Mayor Bloomberg wishes that everyone would go home. If anything the resolve of the protesters is strengthened. Some serious tents now crowd the park. The path winding through the park is narrower as the tents cover about all the available space. There are now safe tents for women and soon for men.
The homeless are in evidence. Commercial sales of Occupy Wall St buttons and T-shirts are present on the outskirts of the park. Several people panhandled for money that did not seem destined for the cause. The air of camaraderie was still present. But some demands such as the American Indian protest are examples of narrow interest groups. Santa? You judge.
Members of the group got to march in the Village Halloween Parade. The neighborhood complains about the drumming. But it only occurs during the day. As loud as it seems to sound up close in the pictures, you cannot hear the drums from less than a block away. The canyons of skyscrapers absorb sound very well. And, finally portable toilets have been brought into the area. That will end the complaint of public urination. The city should have consented to do this weeks ago.
Gallery and additional info follow:
In the arms of police and restrained from running
I happened to be sitting across the street from the courthouse. I had moved to avoid arrest after overhearing a protester’s mumbles. The police wanted the front of the courthouse steps clear. A young girl, Nicole, from Virginia, ran across the street in the cross walk. She had no shoes, just socks with holes. An undercover cop jumped out and spoke to someone else I did not see. “You want her?” And with that I witnessed an arrest. I was surprised that there seemed to be very little commotion from the protesters. A few called out. Most people were unaware of the arrest or chose not to harass the police. Others were downright taunting. “Hey go fix a ticket.” In this instance the police officers and their superiors were professional. NBC was there. The story was spun out. Her friend, the redhead, told the NBC reporter that Nicole had been knocked to the ground by the police for no reason. I did not see the alleged offense, so I cannot comment on whether Nicole was innocent. She was not abused. After being cuffed, she sat down on the ground so that she could not be removed from the scene easily. The first amendment was in abundant display. Mostly the protesters and the police showed restraint. The news reported about a dozen arrests. I saw about six.