Monday, December 5, 2011

Zuccotti Park Revisited

Two weeks, has it been two weeks since the New York Police cleared Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park? More you say?

Under cover of darkness, at 1:00 AM in the morning, with the press sequestered “for their protection” a block away, following direct orders from Mayor Bloomberg, cleared the park in a military-style raid. It was an appalling display of political power that belongs in a fascist nation, not in our democracy. Hundreds were arrested for acting on their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. Police destroyed lap tops and other personal property as well as threw out hundreds of books (the OWS had set up a library). The park was renamed Liberty Park, had a Burning Man cooperative feel and in and of itself, was a statement against the system the current form of capitalism economy has metastasized into where the middle class is destroyed and the nation’s wealth and power is concentrated into an ever shrinking percent of the population (Bloomberg is proudly part of the 1 percent).

Similar evictions occurred in other cities throughout our land. Evidence indicates that it was a coordinated effort. Other police departments were more brutal, sending scores of protestors to the hospital. One wonders when the last time these officers took a look at their pension funds.

Yet, the movement is still in the news; I encountered two protests this week in Manhattan. Issues raised so far, concentration of wealth, student loan forgiveness, taxing the wealthy, universal healthcare, as some examples, seem actually being discussed where as before, they weren’t even on the radar.

I was in that neck of the woods on Friday. You want to know what it looks like to live in a police state, take a gander. Remembering the hope and joy I saw earlier in the autumn compared to the antiseptic lock-down atmosphere now was like a punch in the stomach. Barricades – two barricades thick – align the entire perimeter of the park. Cops are everywhere along the perimeter line; several vehicles are parked in spaces on one side of the park. The obvious goal is to intimated. You feel like you no longer live in America, it’s a nightmare vision, a dystopian police state only even more horrifying because it is real. It is here, this is now us.

From the Times: “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself,” the mayor said. “What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” He said the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”

What a load of crap. He cited health and safety conditions for evicting the peaceful protestors, yet he did so under cover of darkness with the press, under threat of arrest, were sequestered far away from the action. Remember in 2004, this mayor who invited the republican party to NYC for their death star construction celebration, cited the rights of central park grass for not issuing a permit for a rally, offering instead, Queens! I remember that August, I walked over to MSG to take a look, was not allowed to get within two blocks of the public space, and was not even allowed to stand still and try to see some republicans. Keep moving, you cannot stand here, barked a cop.

What happened in ’04 was a lock down; this martial law approach is now in place at Zuccotti. The state of seige has begun. So much for the park now being unavailable to anyone else because of protestors. The park seemed empty and clean, now hardly anyone is there. The barricades and heavy police presence (these protestors were and are peaceful and non violent) means nobody else is in the park, unlike what the movement started.

About a hundred or so protestors were huddled in groups inside, I was told there was going to be a meeting to plan an Occupy Broadway protest. A few straglers were along the perimieters, holding up protest signs. They seemed mostly to be yelling at the cops; a few torusits lingered. The absurdly disporportionate police presence and precautions in response to the tiny number of protestor was shocking; those in power indeed are freakign out. The park is now a containment camp without the camping or other pedestrians prior to the eviction.

This intense monitoring by the personal army of Bloomberg and Wall Street, paid for of course by our tax dollars, is the largest police action I’ve ever witnessed or heard about – certainly more intensive than anything to stop drug trafficaking or other widespread crimes. There seemed to be as many cops patrolling and watching as there were protestors.

 You can’t evict an idea was the response to the evictions. At Zuccotti you realize the truth of that statement. The ideas and issues they address are bigger than a park and have spread throughout the land. But you also see the real result of the eviction: a militarized police force protecting those with wealth and power by suppression of inalienable rights.

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