Saturday, December 10, 2011

Occupied Communique #4

November 25, 2011

Dear Unity,

A little time and a lot of events have passed since I last wrote. I keep saying that nobody knows what will happen next, and I learned first-hand just how wrong I could be about the future. I had thought that police invading the park and brutally evicting us would send shock waves across the country, and even the world. Well, the police did invade the park -- after a restraining order was issued that sought to prevent them from even entering the park (but Bloomberg bought another judge to countermand it) -- and the police did brutalize us. That night over two hundred people locked down inside the park, and they were all tear-gassed, beaten, and arrested. All our property was tossed into garbage trucks, dumped in a warehouse, and systematically searched and destroyed (we were later allowed to sift through the destruction in case we wanted our broken, ripped, mangled property . . . if it was still there . . . none of my property was in the pile, all was lost, I am left with 3 changes of clothes . . . nothing else). The police did more than beat us and destroy our property, they also killed four dogs that night. I watched all through the early morning hours from between the first and second barricades. The police would not allow us into the park, and if we exited past the second barricade we would not be let back in. We were also told that when they finished with the park they would come and get us . . . despite that threat we stayed until the end, but they let us be.

I spent the next overnight, 15 hours, standing in the rain at the park, supporting 10-40 Occupiers who refused to leave the park. Brookfield Properties hired a private security force to "help us" follow the new rules -- rules such as no lying down, no sleeping, no personal property left unattended (even for a minute), no sleeping bags, no large backpacks or bags, no food, no music, no large signs, etc, etc, etc. In reality, they are goons whose job it is to harass us in every way possible while the police look on and protect them. Protect them? We have demonstrated time and again we are not violent.But still, they are frightened of us. Perhaps it is because they know what they do is dreadfully wrong.

Then came Thursday, and the day of action. I was involved in actions all day long, from the attempt to delay the opening bell at the Stock Exchange, to the march to Foley Square, and everything inbetween. I did not go on the Brooklyn Bridge march, but more than 32,000 people did go. I was there when we re-took the park, and I was there when the police tried twice, unsuccessfully, to force us out. I was there when they stole our rental truck full of army tents, and I was there when they brutalized non-violent protesters in the park. I was also there when we marched through the city streets, and the people came out on all the fire escapes and cheered us on, as people in their cars honked their horns in support of us, as people on the sidewalks smiled, laughed, took pictures and high-fived us as we passed.

During the stolen truck incident a police officer went berserk and attacked a protester who was demanding the police produce a search warrant before going into the back of the truck. I was right next to them, and, in a break of medic protocol, I tried to break it up after the officer went berserk -- but before I could do anything I was blindsided by another officer, who dislocated my knee and sent me tumbling in a hail of police fists. Lucky for me, the crowd of protesters saved me. They started chanting, "He's a medic, he's a medic!" Before any serious damage was done to me other officers responded to the crowd and pulled the berserk officers off of myself and the protester.

I popped my knee back in, my medic buddies wrapped it up, and back into the fray I went.

I was fifteen feet away when they brutalized one of us during the first attempted park eviction that day. The police beat bloody a protester, by the name of Branden, smashed his head into the granite curb and beat him with fists, feet and clubs. They then picked him up, handcuffed him, stood him on a stone ledge -- the highest spot in the area -- and displayed him to the crowd. When he did not show fear, two officers went behind him, and bent his fingers back until he cried out and sobbed in pain -- that pain was photographed and the New York Post ran the picture over the caption "Crybaby!". I was fifteen feet away, and the line of police would not let me through to treat him. My pleas to be allowed through to treat him were rejected, and I was physically restrained from getting to the injured protester. Who do the police protect? Who do the police serve?

Without our army tents, we decided not to stay in the park -- and we left of our own volition in the evening. Of course, there is a steady presence of Occupiers in the park even now, but the "occupation" has not yet re-commenced. The security goons harass all Occupiers, and police provocateurs continually try to disrupt the determination of the Occupiers. But still we persist. Still we remain peaceful. Our response? We sent a drum circle and love-in festival to Bloomberg's neighborhood. We held a Thanksgiving Day feast and invited the police, the politicians and the 1%. We remained peaceful despite the unjustified, criminal violence perpetrated upon us.

Only the police came to the feast on Thanksgiving -- and they came to disrupt the festivities, not to join in. At one point, 20 police officers entered the park to arrest a lone drummer -- to charge the drummer with criminal trespass because no musical instruments are allowed in the park nowadays. The crowd went to the aid of the drummer, and after a long confrontation where everybody was willing to be arrested with the drummer, the police backed down and left.

I was wrong about the police starting to "get it". I was so wrong, that the violence I witnessed all day long (even I was manhandled or clubbed several more times that day) had a traumatic effect upon me. In the days that followed I found that I could not control my anger. That I was getting dangerously close to fighting with the police whenever they harassed Occupiers. I had to leave for a couple of days in order to center and ground myself, to re-affirm my commitment and reason for being there, to find the ocean of calmness within me so that I can do my job as a medic. Do no harm, is a street medic's first rule.

After the eviction from the park the Occupiers needed a place to sleep. Several local churches opened up their doors to us at night, allowing us floorspace to lay out and sleep. Quickly, however, the police threatened the churches with raids, code violations, arrests, and shutting them down. The Fire Marshall was sent out to intimidate the churches, and some closed their doors to us. This police-church struggle continues at this moment, and overnight housing for the Occupiers is a daily problem . . . but we are not going home.

Whose city? Our city!

Best Regards,

Ed Mortimer

"Only when the last tree has died
 and the last river been poisoned
   and the last fish been caught
             will we realize
      we cannot eat money."
            -Cree Wisdom-

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