OWS Occupies Thanksgiving; Free Meals & Festive Atmosphere While Zuccotti Park Uber Restricted and Barricaded

Zuccotti Signage

Double Barricaded

Occupiers at Thanksgiving

NYPD vehicles line Liberty Street

NYPD Surveillance Tower across fm park


Food Line - It's Free!

Vegetarian, vegan, turkey options

Handing out water


Bouncers, uh, Security

NYPD Occupy Thanksgiving

WikiLeaks Truck

Ledges Now Off Limits

NYPD "Community Affairs"



Despite being double barricaded in with only two entry points on the north and south sides of the park, Occupy Wall Street occupied Thanksgiving yesterday at Zuccotti with an overflow of free Thanksgiving meals – turkey, vegetarian and vegan options – (Some of the food was later donated to a church in Upper Manhattan and perhaps elsewhere), a multitude of bottled water, ice cream and dessert.

Unlike the previous set up – pre-raid – where the food was allowed to be laid out inside the park, the food display is now only allowed outside on the sidewalk. Among other things, this ends up not being the most environmentally friendly option – endless bottles of water and pre-packaged trays of food – but the spirit remains lovely and strong.

People say “You can’t evict an idea,” and that is oh so true. And yet, what is so threatening about the alternative society that Occupy Wall Street set up that all physical remnants of it have to be abolished? Now, double barricades surround the entire park. Books, food, and, yesterday, even a banjo are not allowed in. There are bouncers, uh, security at the TWO entry points and the ledges are off limits. No sleeping lying down. In addition to the much publicized no tents and sleeping bags.

A fellow last night tried to bring in a banjo and security attempted to deny him entry. People began chanting “let the banjo in!” and surrounded the space. There was a negotiation; the NYPD got involved and, at last, guy with banjo was allowed in. Mic check was called. A speaker called out “We’d like to thank” … “the NYPD” … “for letting the banjo in.” (Words to that effect.) Amazingly gracious as that would not have been my first inclination feeling it was already crazily restricted (what right did this security have to keep the banjo out to begin with?, my friend asked).

When I first arrived, I spoke to one of the bouncers. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way but that is the feeling that was given off and clearly he identified with the role. I pointedly questioned and criticized the barricades everywhere and the reduction of entrance to the park to two barricaded-in entry points. He said, “Everyone’s complaining. Look at the festive environment you get to go to going in here.” Clearly his attitude was that Brookfield Properties (which “manages” Zuccotti Park) and the city were doing everyone some favor by allowing them there. Then, as if this was a reasonable argument, “If you went to a club, you’d have to go on a line to get in.” “This isn’t a club,” I replied. “It’s a public park.” He began to argue, “It’s not a public park. It’s a private park.” I said, “It is not a private park. It is a privately owned public space.” He stopped the back and forth; he had to agree that was accurate. He then continued on claiming this was all for everyone’s “safety.”

The site is barricaded in with an imposing NYPD tower with cameras bordering the park with NYPD officers and Brookfield-hired “security” checking people coming in and out. A public park? Certainly doesn’t feel like one. A friend of mine commented that “This feels like a prison camp.” Nonetheless, the vibe inside was festive, upbeat and giving.

“You can’t evict an idea.” Indeed.

I wanted to include this last shot although, on first glance, you can’t tell what it is.  The trees at Zuccotti have tags tied on them (similar to ones you might put on a gift) that said “I’m giving…” and people had filled in sentiments on them.

I don’t expect Mayor Michael Bloomberg and those of his ilk in the 1% to understand but I’m sure many of us do. Written on this tag were the words: “I’m giving thanks for OWS. You gave me hope.

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Interesting post here on Occupy Boston and Community Planning.

Previous WSP Blog post: My visit to Zuccotti and Occupy Wall Street October 7, 2011

Washington Square Park 6 A.M. Tuesday 11/15 (Photos)

Washington Square, 6 A.M. Tuesday 11/15, hours after Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park-based movement ousted:

The Arch At Dawn

Morning / Fall at the Park

Fountain Plaza

Judson Church Washington Square South

Judson Supports Occupy Wall Street

Looking North - Park Empty

SouthEast Entrance to Park Barely Open

I fixed that

Photos: Cathryn

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.

My Visit to Zuccotti — aka “Liberty” — Park and Occupy Wall Street

The Scene

CNN

Meditation Circle

The People's Library

The Death of the American Dream

Daily Schedule

Guy Sweeping Up

Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps

NYPD

Pigeons take refuge

Where to Recycle

Free Phone Charge

A final look upon leaving

I was quite moved by the scene at Zuccotti “Liberty” Park. For everyone who has been coerced or lulled into believing that our city — as envisioned by NYC billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg — must be increasingly privatized, homogenized and sanitized, thereby crushing much of the essential character that is so intrinsic to New York; the freewheeling, gritty, and collective spirit of Occupy Wall Street/New York illustrates another alternative: what a thoughtful, colorful, and collaborative NYC looks like.

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Previous WSP Blog post: Downtown Public Park Acts as Home Base for Those Taking a Stand September 28th, 2011

Downtown Public Park Acts as Home Base for Those Taking a Stand

"Liberty Plaza" aka Zuccotti Park downtown

So, on the same day that hundreds showed up at Washington Square Park to battle each other with Light Sabers, activists who have set up camp downtown to protest and highlight the inequalities in the U.S. today, particularly in relation to the financial “system,” battled in real life with the NYPD.

Mark Crispin Miller has a piece with video from Saturday (9/24) on his web site which captures the police rough handling mainly females and young kids at 12th Street and University (he wonders “Does Michael Bloomberg wants his cops to kill somebody?” based on the harsh and over-the-top treatment).

Zuccotti Park, a privately owned public park (figure that one out!), has been taken over as home base since September 17th.

See more —

Read Arun Gupta’s piece in The Indypendent: The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation

New York Times, Videos Show Police Using Pepper Spray at Protest on the Financial System

New York Times, Park Gives Wall St. Protesters Place to Call Home

Photo: PWeiskel08 via Flickr