There have been times this week where I haven’t had words–I’ve just had feelings. In this abyss of feelings, mostly of fear, outrage, and complete shock, I’ve rarely had language to give a voice to these feelings, which has a way of leaving us writers feeling very confused, lost, and annoyed with ourselves.
Then we write things, and it has a way of fixing itself. Or at least making us feel more justified.
So, here goes..
I was at the eviction of Occupy Wall Street, but I did not know that the park was being raided.
I knew that the park was blocked off, and I knew that the police were teargassing us en masse, violently pushing us down Cortland Street, shoving us up against each other and up against walls all the while screaming at us to, “keep it moving.” I knew that people were trying to rally around our solidarity and strength in numbers, but that this is hard to believe when one side has weapons and the other side simply doesn’t.
I didn’t know that almost every subway in Manhattan had been closed. I didn’t know that the Brooklyn Bridge had been closed to all traffic. I didn’t know that there was a no fly zone over Liberty Plaza. I didn’t know that all of this was so that journalists–people like me–would be unable to reach the scene, take in the images, and report what was actually happening.
I still don’t know how what is effectively a “first amendment free” zone can possibly be packaged as constitutional.
I didn’t know that the park was being raided. In my naïvité, or early-morning inability to process practical translations of words like “eviction” or “police raid” I thought that those who were in the park would doubtlessly be able to resist in numbers, and eventually the police would go away. I didn’t know that anything had happened until I saw a picture on Twitter of a completely cleared, decimated park that looked far more like Zuccotti Park than Liberty Plaza.
I was horrified. And I really, really hated the police.
Because they weren’t police that night; they were the hired paramilitary thugs of the top one percent. They had weapons and protection, and we had none. They fired teargas without warning and chopped down trees that had people chained to them. They had shields, batons, and helmets and descended upon us without warning in the middle of the night because they knew that what they were doing was completely wrong and unfounded.
That’s why they blocked the roads to journalists–so that they could proceed with their jobs without accountability. (They picked that one up from the big bankers.)
In times like these, the class war becomes a little bit more of a war-war.
It has been a few days now. Two days after the raid was November 17th–a beautiful day, filled with actions of solidarity that culminated in occupiers, students, labor unions, and supporters marching across the Brooklyn Bridge as lights shined on the courthouse that said, “We are the 99%. Occupy!”
The crowd chanted, “Bloomberg, beware. Zuccotti Park is everywhere.”
Oh, and it is.
Though Liberty Plaza–I much prefer that language to “Zuccotti Park”–had once been an inviting space, filled with solidarity, conversation, and the beginnings of infrastructure modeled after an ideal society that had freed itself from capitalism and greed, it had started to become its own problematic bureaucracy. It was difficult to find meetings, or know how to negotiate the space if you weren’t intimately familiar with its political structure. I left a meeting one night because it was so preoccupied with its own internal operations that it barely touched on how to generate change.
This was happening at Liberty Plaza; it was so concerned with its internal operations–the tents, the infrastructure, the meetings, the general assembly structure–that consensus building became about drum circles and hot tea rather than making the fight for economic justice culminate in a victory.
Bloomberg–and his paramilitary hired thugs clad in riot gear (your tax dollars at work!)–destroyed the pettiness of Liberty Plaza, leaving the only thing we had left uniting us: our ideas.
Our physical occupation may have been destroyed, but our ideological preoccupation is taking to the streets, occupying our hearts and minds with an obsessive force that is resistant to riot police, batons, and teargas. It is demanding that we wake up in the morning, that we use the dialogues we started in Liberty Plaza–the contentions that arose with racial and gender justice, our knowledge of the paramilitary extent of our cities police force, and most importantly, our own and each others stories that we have exchanged that put a human face on our collective struggle, to continue to occupy–just this time, it’s everywhere.