Look at me, not in shul. This morning I was pretty sure I was going, in spite of my earlier assertions that I knew the right thing to do on Rosh Hashanah would be to go down to Occupy. Around noon, I stopped thinking so hard about it and went down to Wall Street.
The actions started at 7 am, so by the time I was downtown, people were gathered in Liberty Plaza, where Occupy Town Square was happening and lots of folks from unions were speaking. I kept overhearing accounts of ridiculous shit going on-one girl was talking about how her friend got detained by the Department of Homeland Security for writing on the sidewalk with chalk. (Go ahead, read that sentence again.)
Across the street, there was an action at a Bank of America branch (“Bank of America? Bad for America!”) before the police attacked and sent folks running. I was in the crowd, and this time, I didn’t move when people ran. I stood still and thought about how I’d written the National Lawyer’s Guild hotline number on my foot in blue ink (it looks like a weird tattoo), as people had been advising. We chanted, “Who do you serve? Who do you protect?” It quieted a little bit, or rather, the flailing and swatting of the cops stopped; it wasn’t totally clear to me if someone actually got arrested.
Last night in Liberty Plaza, someone announced that the NYPD were likely looking to evict folks from the park. “We need you in the streets tomorrow,” this occupier said. “Please don’t get arrested tonight.” It was sobering. It felt like war, or rather, like there was about to be a war. I feel like the police are blurring what’s really going on, like they’re becoming the story, instead of the Occupy actions becoming the story. (I just read a tweet that said, “For someone supposedly “dead” OWS sure is throwing itself a helluva birthday bash.”) The corporate media is never going to cover Occupy -or any other social movement-with anything resembling nuance, respect or accuracy, and so we can’t evaluate it through that lens. This is why we need independent media, folks. Check out this clip from Melissa Harris-Perry on Occupy’s role in changing the conversation on class.
(Tomorrow: the Free University in Madison Square Park.)