Eyewitness: #occupying Wall Street as well as people’s minds
L-R: a peaceful shrine filled with momentos; a funny ad that was pasted to the “public library”; Lady Justice with her scales (thought it was a doll, not a real person at first!!) and one of the huge statues that mark Liberty Square. ***Please excuse the quality of the photos, as they were taken with my Blackberry (which malfunctioned just like everyone else’s these past couple of days, thanks RIM!)
During my trip to the city the other day for a job interview I made a stop afterward to Zucotti Park, pka Liberty Plaza (a name which has since been reintroduced) to see what #occupywallstreet was all about. Stepping out of the correctly-named Wall Street station, I found myself amiss as which direction to go (the Cortlandt stop, right next to the WTC site, would be a better option) but instantly a guy with a backpack asked me “Which way is west?” Using my better judgement, I asked him if he was heading to the protests. He was, and we set off together in search of West.
That was the perhaps the best thing about the protests: seeing like-minded people joined in solidarity. It didn’t matter who you were: everyone was there for the same cause, and everyone felt like they were already friends. At first glance, it might seem like a huge hippie protest: the fashion statements were intriguingly unique (I even saw two girls who, forgoing fashion, wore nothing but body paint!) and every person seemed to be sporting a tattoo. I know I smelled weed at several different points throughout the park, and there was a group banging on drums and dancing.
But this wasn’t no ordinary protest: these people were organized, at least in terms of their occupation. They had people doling out free food (and sing-songing for volunteers); they had people creating clothing and blanket drives for the many occupiers actually camped out on their sleeping bags; they even had a “public library” where people donated books and cds (including several economics books). And it is well documented: not only were there professional reporters with cameramen, but everyone seemed bent on documenting the scene with their cell phones.
All in all, I was rather impressed by the whole scene: the air was festive, the signs people held up were witty and thought-provoking. Although organization on an greater level–i.e., a solidified reason as to why the people were protesting–seems kind of vague, the actual physical protesting was great to witness. It was my first protest, and as I sat the “sacred space” shrine (where I donated a plastic shamrock, fittingly, for luck) I hoped it would not be my last.