NEW YORK, Oct 11 –To the mixed smells of fumigant and marijuana, the sounds of enigmatic buzzing and drum solos, hundreds of young people revel in peace in Zuccotti Park, a small strip of Manhattan real estate given over to twilight candles and talk of peace and reform.
Of course, this is not 1969. These people have been assembling in
“People of many colors, genders and political persuasions…” the official website of the demonstration says.
“The Wall Street Occupation has made New York City the physical and spiritual capital of a great people’s awakening,” says a flier making the rounds from former New York Congressman Major Owens, , Entitled a “Call for Coalition and Solidarity,” Owens declared “ it is a magnificent movement and hope it goes on until it has an impact.” He definitely would like to come back and involve all the New Yorkers.
On a recent Tuesday evening, Owens took part in the movement’s nightly “General Assembly, held from 7 am till 9.30 pm every evening. Due to city prohibitions on the use of megaphones or other amplified sound, protesters employ a ”human microphone;” that is, they inform the rest of the park of the Assembly’s decisions by whispering information from one person to another until it has reached everyone in the protest.
While the Assembly helps protesters to organize and plan their next moves, the mundane realities of life in a small, crowded and exposed place go on. A volunteer is quietly sweeping the area and sanitary men are picking garbage, while, on the other side of the park, a girl is selling her graffiti pictures for $100 each.
Jay Sullivan has been giving away pirated movies for 7 years at
Next to them, Yoga classes are held where everyone can participate and relax for a while. A few feet away, there is the kitchen where free food is served. Nearby pizzerias offer them meals but also people from the neighborhood cook them or let them use their kitchens.
The movement also launched its weekly newspaper entitled The Occupied Wall Street Journal. People can read in two languages, English and Spanish, news of the sympathy demonstrations have garnered as they spread to other parts of the country and all over the world. On the back of The Occupied Wall Street Journal there are “Five Things He Can Do Now” to help the movement, including: Bring instruments, food, blankets, bedding rain gear, and your friends, Spread the Word, Donate, Follow the Occupation or Educate Yourself.
“People are out here and they are happy. There is free massage, medical supply, library where we can have free conversations,” said Molly McCartney , a 21-year-old young lady, who was very determined why they need to be on Wall Street. Everyone has their own stories how they ended up being among the protesters. Molly said, her father passed away in April and he had hoped that a movement like this would happen. Besides supporting the political reasons for the protest, she also came to represent her father.
While city authorizes have largely left the protestors alone (with some important exceptions), they have made life harder for the movement. Some days ago, the electricity was shut off in the park. Later, someone donated a solar power truck, and since then, it serves the protesters’ needs. Participants are not allowed to use tents in the park, so they are covering their belongings, including their donated sleeping bags, with plastic wrap.
The area is under supervision by the New York Police Department. Protesters believe the presence of the NYPD is totally unnecessary because the movement is peaceful and always will be. According to Molly, instead of having the NYPD in the neighborhood of Wall Street, they should provide more support in other areas of
“The NYPD should be in
Some people do decide to leave the park around midnight so they can sleep at home. Rob, audio engineer, has been at the protest since Wednesday last week, chose this option. He has an apartment where he also lets people crash and use the shower. Generally, people are very welcoming with the protesters. The nearby McDonalds, and pizza places have let individuals use the restrooms.
While many have offered help for the protesters as they seek to survive the elements and other challenges, others see the seamy side of letting them settle in the park. Patrick, a student of finance, said that, “No way of human being to live like that. They are selling drugs and having sex in their shelters. Yesterday, they helped to hide someone from the police. Today, the guy got arrested.”
Ruwan Meepagola, 24 years old sales manager, does not believe in protests and thinks they will never achieve their goals and should get a job. His friend, Giancarlo Alvarez, 27, agrees with the cause but not the means. “The protest is incorrect because it is very localized. This case is present across the country. There are other means of mass communication.”
No matter what some think of this protest and its fulfillment, these people are practicing two out of the five fundamental rights. They speak and assemble for one common goal and try to live by the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world!”