Last night we published a special call to action urging our readers to occupy Zuccotti Park early this morning to defend the community from what seemed to many an effort to evict the protesters and end the occupation. Mayor Bloomberg had announced that the occupiers must leave the park from 7am to 7pm this morning allegedly so that the city could clean the area. Yesterday, at the OWS General Assembly it was decided that the occupiers would themselves clean the park in addition to allocating $3,000 in GA funds to hire professional cleaners. Throughout the day and well into the night the protesters put this plan into action.
We attended another smaller meeting last night (though this was several blocks away from Zuccotti Park, there were at least ten police officers present), in which the protesters prepared the strategy for this morning’s event. Volunteers were given the opportunity for assignment in various roles, some of which required training. Roles included column (linking arm to arm to form a barrier), escort, jail support, media wrangler, and others and were classified as either “arrestable” or not, giving volunteers fair warning of the likelihood of arrest.
As we joined this morning’s meeting in the center of the park, the tension was palpable. Dozens of uniformed and unknown numbers of undercover NYPD police officers surrounded the square, and nearby vans filled with SWAT officers stood by. We were amazed to watch as an increasingly large crowd continued to file in from all parts of the country and beyond in numbers which appeared to exceed three thousand.
As the General Assembly prepared the crowd at large for the upcoming act of civil disobedience, various scenarios and options were offered. We could form a column surrounding the park and forming a first line of defense, we could remain in the center of the park (this is what our team had decided to do), or we could cross the street and offer moral support to the occupiers.
The energy of the crowd was infectious and each of us found ourselves inspired to defy the authority gathering against our borders. As we prepared ourselves for the oncoming assault it was difficult not to recall descriptions of siege warfare of the European middle ages. In typical melodramatic fashion, it was at this instant when breaking news was echoed across the human microphone system (traditional voice amplification being prohibited), announcing that the Park’s owners, Brookfield Properties, had decided to “postpone the cleaning of the park.”
The crowd broke out into enormous cheers, and applause. Many began reciting chants such as: “the people / united / will never be defeated” and others began to sing, dance, and some could be seen shedding tears of joy. A considerable effort by those in power was made to remove the protesters from their occupation and that effort was defeated. At least for the time being, the people hold Liberty Square and are now celebrating their victory on Broadway and Wall Street.
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