November 25, 2011
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
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
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
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!
"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."