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'It's All Political': Eviction and Arrests of Global Revolution Livestreamers Part of Pattern of Crackdowns on Alternative Living

Released from jail after their arrest at a Brooklyn collective living space, livestreamers affiliated with Occupy Wall Street tell their stories.

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Whether the vacate order was an attempt to shut down the Global Revolution livestream, the byproduct of a nasty fight with the landlord, or a combination of both, the story runs much deeper.

Inside 13 Thames

I embarked on a  journey to 13 Thames before Global Revolution found its home there, and as integral as Global Revolution has become to the space, 13-1, as it is also called, was much more than Occupy's livestream station. And like 13 is more than Global Revolution’s home base, its eviction is part of a larger framework.

13 Thames was an experiment in living; it exemplified another option. Its inhabitants, dwellers, and weary travelers, many of whom used 13 to crash for a day or two (or much longer), had created a space similar to Zuccotti Park, long before it became Liberty Square. Radical ideas were rampant, leadership was shunned, and community and sharing were necessities, because money was tight. To provide one small example, Jai walked me to the subway at the end of every visit I paid to 13 Thames, to swipe me onto the subway with his unlimited metro card. 

I first visited 13 Thames in May, when my desire to write about punk culture in New York led me to Nick James (who would only give his first and middle name), and Ryan Perry (stage name as former member of the punk band Total Chaos: Ryan Rebel) two homeless street punks who seemed much younger than their mid-twenties. They had both been homeless since around the age 12 or 13, and met in upstate New York when they were 16 and 17, while Ryan was living in a bus with his mom and her boyfriend, and Nick was sleeping in a yurt. Nick and Ryan were crashing at 13 Thames when I first met them, and they often had nowhere else to go. 13 Thames was like a shelter, but without the sense of charity. It was welcoming, and there, Nick and Ryan shared their music, and their stories, with people who cared. 

13 Thames was designed to accommodate parties and residency, so that the artists and activists who lived there could pay the rent promoting their passions and enjoy a communal life. In each other, they found mutual inspiration and support, an effective achievement of self-sufficiency. For youths like Ryan and Nick, whose histories should have condemned them to reliance on our broken social system, this was especially important. Someone always had their backs.

The residents have shifted some since I wrote about 13 Thames in May (Schiller is one example) but the substance of what I wrote then holds:

They use this space to be free -- to make art and seek refuge from a society that does not serve them. In the midst of the devastated economy, they are able to hold their own. Kids like Nick, whom society failed, find a way to live free and be happy. At 13 Thames, one might meet at a Trinidian black metal kid who grew up in Bed-Stuy, a punk rock woman mechanic who worked for six years at a law firm, a dreadlocked community gardener, or an interestingly “off” German man. They come together to accept people that society fails and rejects, and they pride themselves on open-mindedness.

And then they party – often with a conscience. They throw film screenings, noise, metal, and punk shows, art galleries, showcasing whatever parcel of the underground they deem cool enough.

Residents were activists, artists, and musicians -- many of them people of color -- who shared a desire to reject the mainstream and experience alternative living. But they struggled within the confines of a society that demands one lifestyle, and overwhelmingly champions the pursuit of individual wealth and accomplishments. 13 paid the bills hosting rock shows, but when the Department of Buildings and police presence demanded they stop the music, they were forced to pool their resources to survive, and abandon part of their dream -- to have a free, creative space.  The change added considerable pressure to 13 Thames, as money to secure rent and pay bills became tighter, and dwellers without economic means scrambled to find new ways to contribute. And still, they survived.

That is, until Monday, when the space was issued a vacate order for being “perilous to life.”  But it wasn't life that the collective threatened. 13 Thames was perilous to the very leadership that ultimately dismantled it -- as was Occupy Wall Street -- by exemplifying the possibility of another life, away from the dog-eat-dog lifestyle of capitalistic gain.