Bloomberg’s Controlling Nature Blacks Out Media Coverage of OWS Middle-of-the-Night Ouster; Reassessing Use of our Parks, Public Spaces

City Park Duarte Square - Canal & 6th Yesterday

The media today and yesterday is focused on looking at Occupy Wall Street every which way. The orchestrated middle-of-the-night ousting of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park by Mayor Michael Bloomberg raises so many questions but here’s a few:

In today’s cities, should there be places people can mobilize from 24-7 if needed? Who decides? Perhaps the pure definition of public space and its usage needs to be revised. Our parks have become about rules and control vs. being actual public spaces geared to what people want. There needs to be a balance and currently it’s tipped too much one way, as we see again and again.

Then, there are large overarching questions about Bloomberg’s decision to shut down media coverage of what went down – as it happened. I understand it was not particularly convenient for him if there were images and reporters on site recording his NYPD in action. But does that mean he shuts it down? And is allowed to, with no repercussions? Yet, again he shows his controlling nature while spouting his great love of democracy.

Thankfully, Judson Church, across from the park, stepped in – in the middle of the night – and offered shelter space to those ousted from Zuccotti and again last night. I stopped by yesterday morning and it was very heartening to see the space opened and welcoming to those who needed it.

Some snapshots from the media coverage (more photos from yesterday coming) —

From Daily Kos via Reader Supported News: Media Blackout on Mayor’s Raid on Zuccotti Park” 11/15:

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to stage a middle of the night raid on the Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park, there was one thing he didn’t want … media coverage. So Bloomberg said screw the First Amendment:

New York Observer Politics Reporter Hunter Walker:

I was blocked from viewing nypd raid at #occupywallstreet along with reporters from cnbc, nbc, cbs, wsj and reuters #mediablackout

New York Times Reporter Brian Stelter:

I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared. He thinks violence was “completely deliberate.”

Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson:

Cops just violently shoved me away as I tried to shoot this man in a stretcher being loaded into ambulance http://twitpic.com/7efa2v

And from the gothamist:

During our coverage of the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early this morning, a NPR reporter, a New York Times reporter, and a city councilmember were arrested. Airspace in Lower Manhattan was closed to CBS and NBC news choppers by the NYPD, a New York Post reporter was allegedly put in a “choke hold” by the police, a NBC reporter’s press pass was confiscated and a large group of reporters and protesters were hit with pepper spray. According to the eviction notice, the park was merely “cleaned and restored for its intended use.” If this is the case, why were so few people permitted to view it?

Empty Zuccotti Yesterday A.M. Pigeons & Men in Yellow - Before Being Re-Occupied

New York Times, Beyond Seizing Parks, New Paths to Influence11/15:

In New York, where the police temporarily evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, and in other cities, dozens of organizers maintained that the movement had already reshaped the public debate. They said it no longer needed to rely solely on seizing parks, demonstrating in front of the homes of billionaires or performing other acts of street theater.

“We poured a tremendous amount of resources into defending a park that was nearly symbolic,” said Han Shan, an Occupy Wall Street activist in New York. “I think the movement has shown it transcends geography.”

Dr. [William] Galston [a senior fellow in governance at the Brookings Institution], predicted that though protesters across the country were being pushed out of their encampments, their issues would endure.

“The underlying reality to which the movement has called attention is too big, too pervasive, too important to go away,” he said.

New York Times, Zuccotti Park Largely Unoccupied and Quiet 11/16:

Many protesters, however, did not stay at the park.

At Judson Memorial Church, across the street from Washington Square Park, about 60 protesters were sprawled out on blankets in the church’s lower parish hall, said Lisel Burns, a volunteer there.

“They came in all night,” Ms. Burns said. “Some were so tired they just fell right asleep.”

The Guardian, “Occupy Wall Street: You Can’t Evict an Idea Whose Time Has Come” (Statement) 11/15:

This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic. The “us” in this movement is far broader than those who are able to participate in physical occupations. The movement is everyone who sends supplies, everyone who talks to their friends and families about the underlying issues, everyone who takes some form of action to get involved in this civic process.

Such a movement cannot be evicted. Some politicians may physically remove us from public spaces – our spaces – and, physically, they may succeed. But we are engaged in a battle over ideas. Our idea is that our political structures should serve us, the people – all of us, not just those who have amassed great wealth and power. We believe this idea resonates with so many of us because Congress, beholden to Wall Street, has ignored the powerful stories pouring out from the homes and hearts of our neighbors, stories of unrelenting economic suffering. Our dream for a democracy in which we matter is why so many people have come to identify with Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement.

More photos from yesterday coming.

The Washington Square Arch: Some Additional History

Washington Sq Arch late 1800's/early 1900's

The Arch at Washington Square Park was originally built in wood half a block away from its current location for the Centennial of George Washington’s Presidential inauguration in 1889. It was then commissioned in marble and completed in its current location at Fifth Avenue in the early 1890’s. The community came together to raise funds to build the permanent Washington Square Arch which was designed by noted architect Stanford White. The sculptures which adorn the ‘legs’ of the Arch — Washington At War and Washington at Peace, described in this previous blog entry — were not completed until 1916 and 1918.

The picture above must have been taken at some point between 1892 and 1916 – before the pedestal sculptures were completed as they are missing in the photo. Also note the decorative fence in foreground.

Stanford White died in 1906 (he was murdered atop the 2nd version of Madison Square Garden, since demolished, a building he also designed) and did not see the two Washington sculptures completed and adorning the Arch.

Judson Memorial Church, another building White designed, can be seen through the Arch – as White intended.

More on the history of the Washington Square Arch, “Exitus Acta Probat” (the Washington Family Coat of Arms) and architect Stanford White here.

Thank you to Matt Kovary for sending this photo in.

“The Vanishing City” to screen Tuesday, Jan. 12th at Judson Memorial Church, 7 p.m.

“The Vanishing City,” a documentary by Fiore DeRosa and Jen Senko, will screen Tuesday, January 12th, 7 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South at Thompson Street.

The Vanishing City exposes the real politic behind the alarming disappearance of New York’s beloved neighborhoods, the truth about its finance-dominated economy, and the myth of “inevitable change.” Artfully documented through interviews with – and testimony by – tenants, city planners, business owners, scholars, and politicians, the film takes a look at the city’s “luxury” policies and high-end development, the power role of the elite, and accusations of corruption surrounding land use and rezoning. The film also links NYC trends to other global cities where multinational corporations continue to victimize the middle and working classes.

$5 suggestion donation.

Jane Jacobs Night At Judson Memorial Church Tuesday, September 22nd, 7 p.m.

Readings and musings by those inspired by the defender of neighborhoods – MC’d by Rev. Billy Talen and Savitri D!

Tuesday, September 22nd * 7pm to 9 PM with Afterparty to follow!

Presented by Reverend Billy Talen for Mayor NYC:

Why?: After a street in the Village was named Jane Jacobs Way –and the presiding city official of the ceremony was Christine Quinn– we learned a lesson. The legacy of our heroes will be appropriated by our opponents as a matter of strategy. The letter to Saving Coney Island by Ned Jacobs, Jane’s son, urging resistance to the Bloomberg-and-Quinn backed highrises of Coney – underscores the need to hold our values in the face of sophisticated public relations spin.

What: Jane Jacobs Night. Activists and authors read excerpts from “Death and Life of Great American Cities” and correspondence that Ms. Jacobs sent in support of neighborhood-saving campaigns over the years.

Who:

With:
Michael Premo, New York Hip Hop Festival and Picture the Homeless

Cathryn Swan, Washington Square Park Blog and Save Union Square (Yes, that’s me! Come say hello.)

Christabel Gough, NYC preservationist hero

Bob Holman, Howl Festival, Bowery Poetry Club

Joy Chatel, Defender of the Duffield House Brooklyn Underground Railroad landmark

Philip Dipaolo, The People’s Firehouse and Brooklyn neighborhood activists

Carol Greitzer, City Councilwoman, Landmarking of Tammany Hall building on Union Square

Evening is hosted by Rev. Billy Talen and Savitri D

We celebrate Jane Jacobs Night to share the personal impact that she has had on our campaigns to save neighborhood diversity here in the city.

Where: Judson Memorial Church
239 Thompson Street and Washington Square South
Take the B, C, D, E, F, or V trains to West 4th Street, or the R, W trains to 8th Street/NYU station

Free. Donations encouraged for space rental.

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More on Jane Jacobs (one of my first blog entries) and Washington Square Park here.

Calendar of Upcoming Events

Calendar of Some Upcoming Events …

Sunday, March 29th

* REALLY REALLY FREE MARKET

The Really Really Free Market is a bazaar and a celebration, where capitalist notions of interaction are discarded and people have fun trying new models of exchange. Expect and share free food, skills, music, clothing, books, other things!

3- 7 p.m., Location: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South @ Thompson Street, Manhattan. (A,B,C,D,E,F trains to W. 4th/Washington Square)

* THE VANISHING CITY: Part II – Films & Townhall Discussion: The Changing Bowery, Chinatown and Lower East Side.

View 20 minutes of the work-in-progress documentary “Vanishing New York” as well as the short film “The Over-successful City” followed by a discussion on the changing face of our city and neighborhoods focused on The Bowery, Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The first event was a big success. More info on speakers at Colonnade Row blog.

3 p.m., Location: Dixon Place Theater, 161 Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey), Manhattan. $15, $12 students and seniors. Followed by reception. Reserve tickets in advance.

Saturday, April 4th

* TRIBUTE AND MEMORIAL TO ROBERT GUSKIND, GOWANUS LOUNGE BLOGGER AND JOURNALIST (Must RSVP.)

2 p.m., Location: Brooklyn Lyceum, Fourth Avenue between Union and President Sts., Gowanus (next to Park Slope), Brooklyn (R train to Union Street)

Saturday, April 11th & Sunday, April 12th

* ANARCHIST BOOK FAIR

Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South @ Thompson Street

Tuesday, May 7th

* 4th Annual BROOKLYN BLOG FEST

Meet local bloggers, learn about blogging, discussion of the impact local blogs have had, watch some great photo montages of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Brooklyn, socialize, and more!

7 p.m., powerHouse Arena, 37 Main Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY; Admission: $10. ($5 for students and seniors)** After-Party, Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY

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For subway information and directions to venues: check out HopStop.