Obviously you won't hear this from any mainstream media, (that goes without saying) and chances are that you haven't heard it from alternative sources either. Unless you happen to be one of the handfuls that were present, it remains unknown. The OWS birthday was filled with so many amazing stories and experiences, and most have been posted in blogs and YouTube videos. But, there is one I can report with certainty that escaped notice. In the hopes that these people's victory will not remain in obscurity, I am obligated to share it with you now.
I traveled from Denver, Colorado to show my support and contribute whatever possible. I made many new friends and stood with complete strangers in a common goal. After a day filled with marches, demonstrations, and solidarity with many various groups and issues, the movement settled into Zuccotti Park for an evening of sharing and community. As I walked among my fellow occupiers I was filled with a sense of joy, peace, and an energy unlike anything I'd ever felt before.
Despite this sensation of sanctuary, the presence of the NYPD looming around the perimeter of the park was ever present. As the evening progressed, the police continued to grow in number yet for the most part kept their distance. Unlike many previous reports I'd seen, the police were not in the all too familiar riot gear, and seemed almost complacent and content to just sit back and observe the proceedings.
Around 10pm the police made their presence known again by entering the park en masse as they encircled the crowd in a show of attempted intimidation. Several officers told occupiers they needed to leave the park (despite the closing time of midnight). Some representatives from the National Lawyers Guild confronted the officers regarding this, to which the officers quickly recanted their statements. Several occupiers responded to this police action by joining hands and creating a circle of people chanting, praying, and meditating. This peaceful demonstration effectively led to the dispersal of officers from the park, leaving the occupiers to continue their festivities.
As midnight approached it was still unclear what further response would be taken by the NYPD. There was an isolated incident in which 3 demonstrators were arrested, yet when things settled down an announcement was made. Apparently the NYPD would not take action as long as people didn't camp out or sleep, so those who needed sleep adjourned to Trinity Church while the others remained to hold their ground in Zuccotti Park.
Somewhere around 2am I noted the police had dwindled to only a handful, and by 4am there was no sign of police, security, or the press. A few dozen occupiers remained; some quietly playing music, others reminisced sharing stories and discussing issues, while some just sat quietly reflecting upon the day's events. Regardless of the diminished numbers of occupiers, the energy in the air was still palpable.
As the clock approached 5am a light rain began falling and several of the occupiers left in search of shelter from the moisture. By 6am only 4 of us remained (with an occasional occupier passing through). We shared stories and told each other jokes, which kept our energy going and our spirits high. With the exception of a brief excursion for food and coffee, the 4 of us remained in the park until shortly after 10am.
So the success story I speak of was our victory of holding the park for the full duration of the night. Despite the park closure time of midnight, which the NYPD could have used as justification to clear us out, they backed down and allowed us to stay.
It may not seem like much, but for the four of us present it will be remembered and worn like a badge of honor and pride. Occupy has yet to win the war, but it is small victories like this that sustain us for the long haul ahead, and the ultimate victory awaiting us.