Saturday March 17th marked the six month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. It was a beautiful and joyous day despite a dozen or more arrests for crimes like laying down and dancing. Despite the heavy police presence spirits were. That evening we had a great General Assembly with hundreds present, using two waves of the People’s Mic to make sure everyone could hear what was being discussed. We reached consensus to sign a petition to urge the attorney general to investigate the NYPD’s spying on Muslims in New York City.
It was a beautiful evening with lots of smiles and laughter. The drum circle was doing it’s thing. There were lots of hugs and shouts of, “Happy anniversary.” We had some amazing break out groups regarding what we hope to see during May Day; what we hope to accomplish. It was a beautiful moment in a movement with lots of ups and downs over the past six months.
Around 10:00pm, Michael Moore showed up with a huge contingent of folks who had marched over from Left Forum. The numbers at the park probably surged over a thousand people. People chanted and sang. Banners were erected. Blankets were brought. The mood continued to be joyous and peaceful.
At some point past 11:00pm the NYPD claimed some of the ridiculous park rules Brookfield has made up were being broken. Rules, like, no laying down in a public park. Or even better: No setting you personal property down on the floor. Rules that any sane person would laugh at. And so this is the context given to set the NYPD loose upon unarmed, peaceful people. You can watch an interview I conducted by clicking here.
The NYPD reall seemed to ratchet up the violence, particularly against women. Cecily McMillan, a 23-year-old graduate student at the New School was savagely beaten unconscious by the NYPD and then denied medical care for nearly 20 minutes. When they finally took her to the hospital they wouldn’t let her family or her lawyer see her.
By Monday afternoon the everyone who had been arrested on M17 (March 17th) was released. Dozens of supporters stayed on jail support for hours on end to make sure that when those folks got out they would be greeted with hugs, food, and lots of love and attention. Some of the arresttees talked about how wonderful it was to hear people outside chanting, knowing they weren’t alone in this.
Everyone that came out of the Tombs had similar stories of violence and threats. Threats for not submitting to iris scans, which are voluntary. Threats that if you keep protesting we’re going to beat you worst next time. The NYPD only knows violence. And it’s evident that it can’t quite figure out why that’s not working, but rest assured it’s only making us stronger. And I’ll leave you with one of my favorite chants, one we chanted as folks were coming out of the Tombs today:
1. We are the People
2. We are united.
3. This Occupation is not leaving.