Occupy Wall Street to World: This Is So Not Over!

Olivia Rosane
Yes! Magazine / News Analysis
Published: Saturday 19 November 2011
Two days after being evicted from Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street’s flagship occupation marked its two-month anniversary with a massive celebration of resilience.
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When I asked a young woman why she was linking arms as part of a human barricade at Hanover and Wall Streets during the morning portion of Occupy Wall Street’s November 17th Day of Action, she explained that she had been in Zuccotti Park, the movement’s home of two months, during the surprise raid and eviction of the park at 1 a.m. Tuesday morning. She wanted, she said, to show that “the more they kick us around, the bigger this is going to get, because its time has come.”

It was this mood of jubilant defiance that characterized the day’s events—the morning attempt to disrupt the New York Stock Exchange by forming human chains in front of major financial-district intersections, a 3 p.m. student rally in Union Square and several marches downtown, and the culminating march of thousands over the Brooklyn Bridge. According to both The New York Times and Occupy Wall Street’s own website, at least 200 protesters were arrested over the course of the day, including City Council members Melissa Mark Viverito and Jumaane Williams and SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry in an attempt to block a roadway leading onto the Brooklyn Bridge.

The day of action, which was intended to commemorate the two-month anniversary of the movement, was planned before the protesters and their belongings were cleared from Zuccotti Park.  But coming two days after the raid, it offered occupiers a chance to prove, as one protester’s sign read, that “this is so not over.”

“We coordinated today without a park, you know, without a hub,” said Kevin Sheneberger, who had been part of the occupation since its first week and is a member of several working groups, including information and facilitation. “People have been here for months; they’re in it for the long haul,” he said.

For Kevin, the goal of the day of action was the same as the goal of every action taken by the movement: “We’re sending a message, we’re waking people up, and we’re taking back our country, we’re creating democracy, this is what it looks like, this is what it takes, and we have to do it every day,” he said, acting out his words as he linked himself into a human blockade during the morning action.

The celebratory atmosphere only increased by the time of the march across the Brooklyn Bridge, which began with a 5 p.m. meet-up in Foley Square and continued past 8. When I finally made it onto the pedestrian walkway around 8 p.m., someone had found a way to project captions onto the Verizon Building—an appropriate choice given that the Occupy Wall Street movementhas marched in solidarity with Verizon workers negotiating a union contract. Messages included, “It is the beginning of the beginning,” “We are winning,” and “Happy Birthday Occupy Movement,” which elicited a chorus of “Happy Birthday” from the marchers, accompanied by an almost constant stream of supportive honks from passing cars.

In one of the most troubling details of the raid on Zuccotti Park, police confiscated the occupation’s library of more than 5,000 books (some of the books were later returned). William Scott, a member of the people’s library working group for the past six weeks, explained that after protesters were allowed back into the park on Tuesday evening (though they were prohibited from bringing camping gear or other supplies), they brought new books to begin rebuilding the library—only to have it confiscated again on Wednesday by the NYPD and private security guards.

On November 17, occupiers set up two mobile People’s Library stands on the Brooklyn Bridge. Scott said the library now planned to have a mobile presence at any future OWS actions and events. The eviction, he said, “has only breathed new life and energy into the movement.” 

What direction that energy will take now that the occupation is not maintaining a physical encampment remains to be seen, but occupiers are confident that the community they’ve formed will not disintegrate. Athena Soules, an artist who had made a large “Occupy Wall Street” banner that was used during the march over the Brooklyn Bridge, pointed out that the movement had access to a donated office space and that over 90 working groups had already been meeting in locations other than Zuccotti. “It’s a wonderful physical symbol, but the working groups will keep working,” she said.

And she pointed out that the movement, sans tents, still has a presence in the park itself. Back in Zuccotti late Thursday night, I spoke with Rich S., an information and community alliance working-group member from Pelham Bay who has been spending the nights since the eviction in the park, alongside a team of 30 to 40 others “to let them know that we’re still here, that they can’t just scare us away.”  Without sleeping bags, the volunteers walk around and drink hot chocolate for warmth.  Other occupiers who came from out of town have found places to sleep at friendly churches; the occupiers’ kitchen, now operating out of nearby Trinity Church, still feeds the movement. 

Asked about what would come after the day of action, Rich answered, “We have to keep on occupying places, keep on demonstrating, keep on disrupting things that go on here, so that the bankers in Wall Street know that it’s not business as usual anymore.”



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13 comments on "Occupy Wall Street to World: This Is So Not Over!"

zonarj

Sandra Streifel

November 20, 2011 10:28am

You may object to the content or intelligibility of the message; you may object to the language, or methods used to spread the message; you may object to the people spreading the message, or to whom they are talking; or you could get involved and do it your way. Many will remember the parable in the movie "Network", and how one sick TV anchor got everyone to yell out their window: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" What the 1%, or 10%, or their hangers-on are worried about, is lack of control.

For a "Global Spring" to work, in our democracies just as in the Arab countries, it's necessary to have a network of grassroots political activism to follow through with the non-violent resistance to tyranny, as in Tunisia, which has elected a Constitutional Assembly, because they had organizations like labour unions and other democratic groups organizing for years when the "sudden" overthrow of the government came. The library and other groups meeting away from Zuccoti Park are some of the ways mentioned in the article we can influence politics and make sure our Change will be more "Tunisia" than "Egypt"--without an united follow-through.

Matthew Jacobs

November 20, 2011 11:55am

I object to there being ......NO MESSAGE!
All I see is Lots of Bumper Sticker Messages coming from Bumper Sticker Minds.
Is it possible thats all this movement is About is Emoting, Chest Beating and Hair Pulling.
Judging from the post on this board .......that is a Strong Possibility
When you Start acting like Adults....... Wake Me UP

bionicknight

November 20, 2011 10:13am

THE OWS “BLACK FRIDAY BOYCOTT.”

OWS and the 99% have Power! “BUYING POWER.” It’s about time we used it. WE CAN INSTANTLY STOP THE FLOW OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Here’s how.

WE’RE NOT BUYING ON BLACK FRIDAY.

STRANGLE THE COMPANIES THAT ARE STRANGLING US!

Companies want our money, but they don’t want to help America get back on its feet?
We are being starved, now let’s starve those greedy corporations who took our money.
We want companies to hire us, politicians to vote for us, and this is how to force it.
We have an incredible mobile army of millions and millions and millions of people!
Let’s combine the power that we all have. VOTE, by NOT spending.

Stop buying as much as you can. Stop buying from ALL of the big corporations, retailers and banks; Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, Costco, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears, Lowe’s, Supervalu, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Georgia Pacific, RJR, Brown & Williamson, Kraft Global, Sara Lee, Tyson, BP, Shell Oil, Exxon Mobile, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Sprint, Dell, Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Kimberly-Clark, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Disney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, The Gap, Penny’s, Colgate, Nike, Staples, Office Depot, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Dean Foods, General Mills, eBay, etc., All of them!
Add your own companies to our list and pass it on.

Don’t use global banks. Move your money from a big bank to a neighborhood bank.
Don’t use your credit cards or ATM’s…at all.
Don’t shop any retail chain stores. Shop local, or mom and pop shops.
Don’t buy gasoline. Walk, take a bus, car pool, or ride a bike.
Don’t buy any extras like music, movies, electronics, or toys…nothing.

BUY AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.
STOP SPENDING OUR BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND WATCH WHAT HAPPENS.

Greedy global companies will be shocked and not know what to do.
Wall Street, the oil barons, corporate fat cats, stockholders, executives, marketers, retailers, politicians, and President Obama, will be asking us, the 99%, what we want!

“WE” WILL FORCE WALL STREET AND CORPORATIONS TO HELP AMERICA!

We have already started.

V

David Burham

November 20, 2011 12:08am

I have two comments. One is about message, the other is about language. I believe it is imperative for any and all of the Occupy movements to have ONE message, and one message only. I know there are myriad things that need changing, and those can and will be dealt with. However, when one message is repeated over and over again, it has a chance of resonating and being remembered.

That message should be, in my opinion, the following: WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEMAND AN IMMEDIATE AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES WHICH SAYS THAT ALL ELECTIONS SHALL HENCEFORTH BE PUBLICLY FUNDED, AND THAT ANY DONATIONS FROM OTHER ENTITIES SHALL BE ILLEGAL AND PROSECUTED AS SUCH.

As to the use of language, the Occupy movement all over the world is endeavoring to change decades (if not centuries) of entrenched greed and inhumane actions. Occupy is trying to change to the minds and actions of people to who "image" is EVERYTHING. So, language is important.
When I read: "This is so not over", I felt like I was listening to a retort from 12-year-0ld (with all due respect to that age group).
Simply say: "This in NOT over".
Leave the "so" 's, "like" 's and "dudes" to the teenagers. Present the messages of occupy in the most direct and intelligent ways possible, which includes the words chosen to convey these messages.

Matthew Jacobs

November 20, 2011 12:32pm

Here is just one fly in your argument. Their have been endless attempts to rid the political process of people with money from getting the Mothers milk of politics MONEY into the process.
Right off the bat I would think Politicians would redefine what exactly is part of or not part of the Election Campaign. That would make your efforts Null and Void.
To remove Money from the Political Process is not possible trust me better people then you or I have tried.
So what do you think of this idea. Open it up to anyone with a SS# and Pulse
No Corps or Organizations of any kind would be allowed to donate either directly or indirectly with free labor or any machination that favors one candidate over another.

Matthew Jacobs

November 20, 2011 12:30pm

Amending the Constitution is a very hard road to hoe The last real ATTEMPT Was on Equal Rights for Women. Now that cause covered half the population of the United States and it FAILED. IMO the chance of getting through this change is Slim To None and...... Look Slim just left Town.
One of the reasons its hard, is that once the amendment process is started it is imposable to limit the process to just one agenda. It like opening Pandora Box only in reverse. People are trying to put their Agendas inside. Example: Right To Life.
So Be careful what you want because you might get it

Matthew Jacobs

November 19, 2011 8:23pm

World to Occupy ....Oh Yes It Is
At lest the Tactic of Occupying Public Property it is, which whether you know it or not is a good thing for your Movement. The World can only see examples of Miscreants who have become the face of your movement for so long before coming to a conclusion. They can only see Occupy members squatting on sidewalks taking dumps so many times before forming a less then flattering view. No this is the time to come up with some goals that have some depth , to move beyond bumper sticker thinking......If You Can

Stephanie Freeman

November 19, 2011 4:59pm

Occupying physical spaces to make a point about the chronic, unsustainable economic and political injustices and inequalities which have been committed against the 99% by the ultra-wealthy 1% has been quite successful, but occupying physical spaces, while the economic, political, social and cultural systems remain "occupied" by the 1%, becomes counterproductive.

The Occupy movement is definitely "so not over", but it may be time to create and deploy new strategies and tactics designed to "occupy" the hearts and minds of the 99% so they can not only be won over to the movement, but encourage them to become active participants in it and become the "critical mass" which triggers lasting, positive and meaningful changes.

Cherrylogger's picture
Cherrylogger

November 19, 2011 4:20pm

It seems quite possible that the eviction of Occupiers will be a good thing. Certainly other tactics to spread the word and help convince 1%, and their corporate cabal ,that short of massive violence on their part, wealth will be more usefully distributed.Period. It will happen. If they pursue violence they may expect their troops to turn on them. If... no, no need to go there. We are not going to storm the Bastille but we might insist that all mandatory drug sentences be revisited. The movement has already succeeded. I've become a yellow dog Occupier. POGO for president! Us Occupiers are revolting!

Esteban

November 19, 2011 3:34pm

It was interesting to walk by Occupy Austin today and observe 12 uniformed police keeping an eye on what appeared to be 15-20 protesters. No wonder cities are going bankrupt, oh wait, I'll bet someone else is paying the overtime and it is out of our pockets.

Esteban

November 19, 2011 3:33pm

It was interesting to walk by Occupy Austin today and observe 12 uniformed police keeping an eye on what appeared to be 15-20 protesters. No wonder cities are going bankrupt, oh wait, I'll bet someone else is paying the overtime and it is out of our pockets.

marcadrian

November 19, 2011 1:34pm

Even if the repression and illegal attacks on the OWS movement did deflate the movement, another movement would rise up. The issue is not this or that movement or their (un)focused demands, the issue is that the corruption in the US Government wrought by big corporate interests is untenable. The emperor wears no clothes, and we all know it now. The logic of the economic realities now faced by a vast number of Americans, that 1/3 of Americans are poor and the ongoing inpoverishment of the middle class, cannot be denied. And it will only lead to continuing uprisings against the criminal class (that 1%) that have recurred to fraud for the last 30 years. That logic has a consequence, essentially it leads to an opposition: us (the vast majority of Americans) Vs. them (the criminal class that has usurped the wealth of America). In the end they (the 1%) either destroy us with lethal force or we triumph and place them in jail.