OWS: The Day After
Wednesday November 16, 2011, noon.
It’s raining in Zuccotti Park. A hundred or so steadfast protesters and a fleet of officers in florescent green vests mill about the now spotless stone ground that two days ago was nearly invisible beneath a tarps, tents, and signs.
By now it’s old news that in the early hours of Tuesday morning, that police in riot gear moved in and cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment two days before its two month anniversary.
The eviction has been relatively poorly documented by the media for a number of reasons, one likely being that reporters were allegedly restrained from accompanying the police as they moved to empty the square. Several reporters that did remain to observe the eviction were arrested.
A day and a half later, there are still people here, but not many. And compared to a busy Sunday a month ago, the crowd feels more fringy, more hardcore, perhaps a little less middle of the road.
People are visibly tired. A man occupying from Honolulu named Fredrick described being evicted from the park a day ago, at times losing his words, and then admitting he’d only had one or two hours of sleep a night for the past couple weeks. “I was being interviewed by CNN yesterday, and I really don’t know what I said, I’m so tired,” he said, a salvaged and taped together umbrella in one hand and a piece of cheese pizza – courtesy of OWS – in the other.
The movement, at least here in New York, is at a crossroads. And New York is the obvious epicenter of this now global call to action.
Can a movement based on occupation sustain its momentum without a consistent space to occupy? Much of the power of Occupy has come not from clear demands, or even commanding numbers, but from the simple, constant, undeniable presence of those involved. In the absence of a physical occupation, a new focal point needs to emerge.
Tomorrow is a planned day of action, which has been outlined as follows on the OWS website: 7am, shut down Wall Street before trading starts, 3pm, occupy the subway, 5pm, occupy the Brooklyn Bridge.
While maintaining public awareness of the movement is imperative if it is to maintain its momentum, it also seems like disrupting the delicate flow of New York City on a weekday has the potential to win Occupy more enemies than followers among the 99%.
Tomorrow could be a big day: it may reveal whether the public is ready for this whole Occupy thing to just go away, or if – as the protesters are hoping – the 99% stands behind them.
I spoke with a lot of people about the matters outlined above at the now extremely clean Zuccotti Square today. Their thoughts and stories will be posted here this weekend. In the meantime, here are their faces.