6 Stories That You May Have Missed From the Occupy Movement
A sign in Foley Square, November 17th 2011
Photo by Sarah Seltzer
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer
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The Occupy movement is still going strong, and it continues to make headlines. There's no question that the Occupy movement has spurred an ongoing national dialogue about income inequality, and about the protests themselves. Just last week, Time magazine named "the protester" its person of the year, and President Obama suddenly went from talking about deficits to stumping on income inequality and jobs.
But in terms of the day-to-day actions of the movement, the media is somewhat less interested now that Zuccotti Park and many other occupation sites have been cleared. Therefore, you may be missing some intriguing stories from occupiers around the nation. Here are several such stories that were under-reported over the past few weeks.
1. Occupy Wall Street has been gearing up to re-occupy.
Zuccotti Park may have been (violently) cleared of protesters last month, but New York City's occupiers are still meeting and organizing regularly. One of their latest plans is to re-occupy lower Manhattan, this time in a spot owned by Trinity Church in Tribeca.
The attempted re-occupation -- or Occupy 2.0, as it's being called -- started at noon on Saturday, December 17. To gear up, protesters were canvassing the neighborhood, handing out fliers that read, "D17: We ask you on December 17th to assemble once more. Noon begins Occupation 2.0. We will stand together in solidarity. Exercising our fundamental right to re-occupy our commons."
The day's events began in a festive way with a re-opening of the People's Library in the public part of Duarte Square and the staging of a brilliant puppet-supported satire of A Christmas Carol with Mayor Bloomberg in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
The festive mingling turned into serious direct action in the 3 o'clock hour, however, when a number of protesters and clergy climbed a staircase that had been set up and entered the chained-off vacant lot adjacent to Duarte Square--this was the contested space. On Twitter, one person described the action that happened on the other side as a "spontaneous dance party."
But police action quickly followed and a number of protesters were arrested while others, leaning against the fence, were shoved back with batons. Again on Twitter and on livestreams, there were reports of journalists being shoved and threatened by police. Alison Kilkenny notes the most dramatic of these:
Journalist Ryan Devereaux tweeted at length about being assaulted by an NYPD officer. Devereaux details the officer "pushing his fist into [Devereaux's] throat." Despite repeatedly insisting he was press, the officer replied, " get the fuck back." Devro's credentialed cameraman was punched in the kidney three times.
Devro also tweeted: "I'm a small guy. The cop that assaulted me is probably about 6'5", 250. One man is bleeding from the head right now, hit by a cop. " Liza Sabater tweeted that an entire school-busload of protesters had been taken away, and that several members of the clergy were carted off in a separate van.
Finally, as the arrested protesters sat in the lot with their hands cuffed behind their backs, the rest of the OWS community gathered for a general assembly "to talk about space, to talk about the police" -- and presumably to talk about what was next.
As night fell, marchers took to the streets of New York's West Village up through Chelsea and into Midtown, blocking traffic and declaring "Bloomberg, beware! Zuccotti Park is everywhere!"
As they neared the throngs of shoppers close to Macy's, a standoff with police made it seem as though a mass arrest were imminent--eventually, the protesters were allowed to pass through.