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Occupy My iPhone N17

This is what N17 looked like from my iPhone’s POV.  She can’t shoot straight and she’s blurry but I think she captured the spirit.

Some notes on the subject matter:

First, my pictures show people.  Those people could be your neighbors.  If some of them are dressed kind of funny, that’s not because they’re hippies.  That’s just New York City.  Dressing funny is the default.  Perhaps this is a source of confusion to those of you who don’t live in the NYC metropolitan area but there you go.  In the City, you either wear black or you make a statement.

Secondly, not everyone who marched from Union Square to Foley Square was a student.  About half of the crowd was over thirty, some of them were older than me.  And what I didn’t have time or battery life to capture were all of the retail workers and manicurists and waiters who stood outside on the sidewalk and cheered us on.  Nor did I get a shot of all of the cars and taxis and buses we had gridlocked for the length of the march who were beeping and honking.  The taxis had a good take that evening.  Nor can you hear the shouting and chanting from the apartments above us.  Some of them had signs in their windows.  The voices of all those marchers and apartment dwellers and onlookers echoed and thundered all the way down the street.

Thirdly, not everyone in Foley Square was a union member.  The union members were carrying signs.  But there were families with kids in strollers there too.  Given how the day started with so much violence, they were very committed to be out there in that cold for hours with their kids.  I saw one man giving his toddler his little battery operated candle to hold during the march.  It was really sweet.

Finally, once the projection went up on the Verizon building and drivers could see it from the Brooklyn Bridge, the whole city was occupied.

Don’t let anyone tell you it was only 32,000 people.  It was millions.  And Wall Street knows it.

I have something to say about this

This video has been making the rounds.  It’s of OWS protestors in California resisting non-violently and then getting pepper sprayed:

On November 17, I walked back to Zucotti Park from the corner of Pine and Nassau.  I wanted to write a blog post.  I asked a cop at the barrier if I could go in and sit down.  He nodded so I went in and sat on a stone bench lining the perimeter of the park.  By the way, the park suffered no permanent damage from the occupation.  It’s a beautiful granite rectangle filled with locust trees that were at peak golden color.  The crysanthemums from a month ago are gone but they were likely to be replaced for the holiday season.  It smells just like Zuccotti park *always* smelled- like food from the mixture of grease wagons at the perimeter of the park.  It’s very kebab scented.  Must have driven the vegans to distraction.

Protestors headed back to Zuccotti Park from Pine and Nassau on N17. These are the typical Dirty Fucking Hippies that everyone wants to kick the shit out of.

Anyway, I sat there and composed a brief post.  Just as I was finishing, a big group of noisy protestors arrived carrying flags.  They were mic checking and celebrating.  I talked to an American professor who was teaching in Budapest.  We laughed about getting hit with a golden shower- of leaves- just before she left the park to find a bathroom.  I was thinking the same thing when  I saw a guy handing out purple sashes and asked him what they were for.  He told me that purple was what you get when you mix all of the colors of the American flag, which made the wearer “ultraAmerican”.  So, I took one.  Just as I was tying it around my hair, someone to my right walked briskly into the park and said that he had heard from the lawyers and the police scanner that the park was going to be kettled.  I really didn’t want to get arrested on a full bladder so I headed for the break in the barrier where I had come in.  As I approached it, the cops closed it up.  I looked to the other side of the park and they had closed that too.  Then another occupier who seemed to have a bit more authority ran over to a group of us and said, “Remain calm, remember we are non violent.  We are peaceful.  We do not resist.  Don’t do anything stupid that will make them come after you.”

Stupid?  For being in a park?  All I was doing was blogging, talking and tying a ribbon in my hair.  This is what I get for just being there?  I called Katiebird, because that’s what I find myself doing when I’m in trouble.  She said she could see what was happening on TV.  Just after I hung up, there was a running scuffle behind me and a group of about five people were being chased through the park.  They threw me off balance as I darted behind a tree.  The whole thing happened so quickly that I didn’t realize I’d pulled a muscle in my right shoulder.  I stood there in pain for a few seconds and noticed that the police on the north side of the park had moved in a line towards the west side, leaving the barrier unattended for a moment.  I dashed out of the park between a break in the barrier.  A few seconds later, the police lined up again and pushed the barrier toward the middle of the park, trapping everyone else in.    I spent the next half hour in Mickey D’s in line to use the bathroom and trying to find Katiebird’s sister in case one of us was arrested.

About 20 minutes later, Bev and I walked around the park perimeter from the outside.  The police presence was ridiculous.  It was over the top.  When I saw the battalions (multiple) lining up in formation outside the park, I knew something bad was about to happen.  There was no reason to have that many cops for the protestors in the park.  Yeah, they can occasionally be loud and rowdy.  But there is nothing about them that can be remotely considered dangerous.  They are armed only with their voices and their bodies.  Jeez, they even meditate before an action so they keep their heads.

Police batallions lining up at Zuccotti park just before the crackdown

And what about the rest of us?  Can we just occupy a space, talk to people, blog, without a threat to our bodies or pepperspray to the eyes?  I was just standing in the park and nearly got caught in a trap.  If a cop can’t see that a group of people sitting on the ground aren’t posing a threat to him, are any of us safe?

They are regular, normal looking, average Americans.  They human beings with dignity.  They are not dirty or smelly.  They don’t have lice.  And the freaky looking ones who were hanging out before the eviction are gone. They are well spoken and cheerful and determined.  Why am I saying “they”?   I mean “WE”.

Next time, I’m peeing before I enter the park and waiting it out from the inside.

More later…