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General News    H2'ed 9/19/12

The Birthday of Occupy: Reflections on New York's Fattest

By Charles M. Young  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page. (View How Many People Read This)   3 comments
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It's probably even more uncomfortable to work for a mayor who is cutting your pension while claiming you as a soldier in his "personal army."


At the next big general assembly of Occupy Wall Street, I'm going make a motion that we have no demonstrations at all for the next three years and let the NYPD just waste away from lack of exercise. It's hard to believe those guys have done anything since the last big OWS demonstration on May 1 except eat Big Macs and play with their gadgets from the Department of Homeland Security. Who will protect the ruling class when everyone in the NYPD has occluded arteries?


Such were my thoughts on Monday morning, the first birthday of Occupy Wall Street. I was with about 800 people of the Strike Debt branch of OWS who gathered at 55 Water Street, an unloved and unused Vietnam memorial with no grass in the tradition of Zucotti Park before the original occupation. The future of parks under late-stage capitalism: Nothing that requires maintenance, even for the casualties of empire.


There were several other "meetup" areas surrounding Wall Street with, I'm told, similar numbers of people, plus lots of freelancers who had their own plans. Nobody knows what the real numbers were, but when the corporate media estimated "less than a thousand," as they all did, it's because they didn't understand what was going on, as always. There was never a single mass of people in one place to count. The point was disruption, not a mass rally.


We discussed strategy informally and formally in general assembly from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and then took off in the direction of Wall Street. The idea was to "civilian" (yeah, that's a verb) and proceed in small groups as normal pedestrians and seize on opportunities to cause chaos as they arose. This really messed up the morbidly obese cops on motor scooters, because they prefer to stay in lines to intimidate demonstrators into staying on the sidewalk. Since we weren't demonstrating, and were going every which way on the confusing and windy streets of the financial district, the motor scooters had no one to herd and couldn't figure out where to go.


My small affinity group (or AG) was mostly personal friends from Brooklyn, all gainfully employed and thoroughly disillusioned with capitalism, numbering from six to ten over the course of the morning. We didn't quite know what we were doing at first, but latched on to a black bloc anarchist group at 9:20 who had the moves for tying up an intersection. I had previously thought of blocking an intersection as sitting down in the middle of the street and refusing to move until the cops came and administered a dose of pepper spray. The anarchists had a technique of "swirling," which means a bunch of people walk around in a big circle from corner to corner, never letting cars through. It causes a big traffic jam, particularly in the narrow streets of Lower Manhattan, and the police have a hard time getting there. When they do arrive, the swirl goes civilian and everybody runs off to the next unguarded intersection. The police strategy of barricading Wall Street and demanding company IDs from pedestrians was irrelevant. We caused traffic jams wherever the police weren't. I would guess that a thousand cops were chasing many thousands of demonstrators all day and catching very few. It was chaos, and it was fun.


So my mostly Brooklyn AG joined the anarchists in a rousing chant of "1-2-3-4, this is f*cking class war! 5-6-7-8, eat the rich and smash the state!" as we swirled around an intersection a couple blocks south of Wall Street. It was too much for some a**hole in an $80,000 Porsche, who nudged his honking way into and out of the swirl, taking off at a high rate of speed, until he hit the next traffic jam a block away.


We lost the black bloc after a couple more swirls and hooked up with some splinter of the Guitarmy, led by two young men with cheap acoustic guitars. We found an intersection already full of stopped cars, walked into the middle of it and sang several verses of "The Times They Are A-Changin'".  The two guitar players were only intermittently familiar with the chord progression and the verses, but we made a lot of noise. Finally, one of the white-shirted middle-management cops (more fat-necked than fat) dared to come into the street and scream that he was going to arrest us for singing in a traffic jam. So we walked into a Starbucks and sang several more verses, until the middle-management cop came in and screamed that he was going to arrest us for...I don't know...maybe the crime was singing folk songs for free when Starbucks was trying to sell them on overpriced CDs by the cash register. The veins were popping out of his fat neck, I remember that.


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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)
 

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