When I heard the news that Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of Occupy Wall Street, was being raided on Tuesday morning I literally felt like I had been punched in the stomach. As waves of nausea swept over me, I read the accounts of what happened. I felt angry at the police and Mayor Bloomberg, I felt guilty that I hadn’t been there, I felt helpless that I couldn’t do anything about it.
All day I kept my eye on OWS’ website, seeing update after update of the eviction reactions. I rushed down to the barren park at the first chance I got and wanted to cry. A place that had been so vibrant and overflowing just hours before was now desolate and empty. I walked around the blocked-off perimeter of the park, tears stinging my eyes, police everywhere.
Some middle-aged women with shopping bags in tow breathlessly thanked the police for “a job well done.” I wanted to punch them. I wanted to take their Gucci shopping bags and throw them in the street. I wanted to scream at them but I knew it would do no good. Besides, deep down I knew we, Occupy Wall Street and social justice movements, were winning.
For there is always that bit of beauty in the madness, that resilient flower that grows in midst of the desert heat, the untouchable idea that flourishes in the midst of oppression. That beauty is the essence of Occupy Wall Street. The protestors marched back to the park that very morning, proclaiming you can take our belongings but you can’t take our vision, you can kick us out but you can’t hold us down– “You cannot evict an idea who’s time has come.” And little did the mayor and the police know how soon that time was coming. The drum beats could be heard in the distance.
Come November 17th, I awoke and felt as if there was a rumbling just beneath the earth’s surface and a humming in the skies. I could almost feel it in the wind that something was brewing, something big; the people were marching. I kept an eye on the OWS website all day, watching update after update of the actions. I rushed down to Foley Square at 4:30 to join in the march and what a march it was!
We were there–all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, social groupings, classes–to proclaim the rise of the people. On one hand, being in the midst of 30,000 people was overwhelming– I felt so small in comparison to this large, marching mass. On the other hand, being in the midst of 30,000 people was exhilarating– I was part of this huge mass of people that shared my passion for social justice and I was swept along in this loving tide as we marched.
The police presence was massive. Everywhere I looked on every block and barrier surrounding the protest area were helmeted police, police vehicles, police on horses. police in counter-terrorism gear, police with batons. It’s not a presence that intimidates me, rather, it makes me angry and even makes me laugh at the absurdity of it.
I understand, on some level, the protocol involved with massive protests but the sheer volume of the police presence and the unnecessary aggression they use is beyond ridiculous. I also feel sorry for the police, on some level. I don’t know where they stand in regards to Occupy Wall Street, if they support us or not, but that doesn’t matter. The police are just as much a part of this system as we are and, as much as I despise them at times, they are my counterparts in this journey for justice– many of them just don’t realize it.
As two busloads of our own arrested protestors were taken away as an example of what could happen to the rest of us, we did not cower in fear but cheered them, sending them our love and strength as if to say, “Hold on, we’ll be in the next busload right behind you!” And God knows we would.
We took the streets, we took the subways, we took the bridges, we took the city. And we sent the message to those who had evicted us: You can hate Occupy Wall Street but you cannot deny us. You can arrest the people of Occupy Wall Street but you cannot destroy us. You can kick Occupy Wall Street out of a park but you cannot evict an idea whose time has come. I think the world is realizing that more and more every day. And those two middle-aged women are probably crying into their Gucci scarves, choking on their very own “thank yous.”