19/04/2014

Occupy Wall Street: protesters regroup after eviction

Posted by MereNews On November - 17 - 2011

5.30pm: That’s it for today, but we’ll be back with live coverage of the day of action tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

5.14pm: Karen McVeigh adds that Coreale Jones, from Brooklyn, emerged from the garage with her belongings – a couple of sleeping bags and a fleece, intact. But said she was close to tears when she saw four smashed up laptops and cellphones lying among people’s belongings in the garage.

Police, who asked for ID at the entrance, refused the Guardian’s request to enter.

Andre Lakes, 27, from New York, said that police told him they couldn’t find his suitcase and now were holding onto his ID.

“They took my suitcase and it’s got my name on it and now I’ve got to come back Monday” he said.

5.09pm: Karen McVeigh is at the 57th Street sanitation centre where possessions removed from Zuccotti Park were taken on Tuesday.


Karen McVeigh

Under a tunnel on the Upper West side a group of unhappy-looking protesters are standing next to a metal door guarded by four police officers. They have come, as instructed by the mayors office, to collect their belongings, taken during the NYPD’s early morning eviction of Zuccotti pArk on Tuesday. But they have mostly been unsuccessful.

A couple have been turned away after police told them they were too late, that the place shuts at 3.30pm (although the official notice on Sanitation dept website says 4pm).

Brendan Butler, who has helped take care of OWS’s sacred space and altar for the last two months was waiting to find out what has been salvaged. He wasn’t optimistic.

“We tried to keep a sacred space where people could pray and connect with their hearts. My friends are in there now but we’ve heard that everything was smashed and destroyed.

Eyewitnesses told us and you can see stuff on the live stream of the eviction being smashed.”

Butler who believes spirituality lies at the heart of the protest, accused police of unwarranted destruction and said that the protesters would be looking into whether they could take legal action against them.

“There’s no need to smash items if that nature” he said.

“Everyone was outside the park when they began taking the property so they can’t say things got smashed up in the action. They were tearing stuff up. This is going to be counter-productive for them.”

4.48pm: Paul Harris has more on events planned in New York tomorrow.


Paul Harris

Protesters are planning actions all day in each of the city’s five boroughs. A potential early flashpoint will be a rally planned to begin at 7am that will target Wall Street itself, as the protesters seek to disrupt the operations of the New York Stock Exchange before the ringing of the opening bell that signals the start of trading at 9.30am.

Since the protests began, Wall Street has become a virtual permanent protest zone, ringed by steel fences and heavily policed. Later actions are planned to take place across the city’s subway system, as marchers will enter at 16 different stations and begin protesting.

Finally, the day will end with a rally at Foley Square, near New York’s Town Hall, and then a march to the Brooklyn Bridge, where hundreds of protesters were arrested in a previous headline-grabbing mass action.

Bridges will be the focus of some actions in other cities too. In Boston, Detroit, Washington DC, Portland and Seattle, protesters, some allied with union workers and community groups, will march on high-profile bridges in order to highlight the problem of America’s crumbling and underfunded infrastructure.

“We don’t want to make this about police and protesters,” said Stephen Squibb, an organiser with Occupy Boston, whose group will target the city’s North Washington Street bridge. “It is about jobs and other things. That has been our message for two months and we are going to keep saying it,” he added.

The range of activities across America spans a spectrum from the dramatic to the small-scale, including teach-ins, rallies and direct actions aimed at banks and corporations. In Portland, Oregon, protesters plan to target a city bridge and then try to organise flashmobs to go to local banks. In Detroit, protesters are marching from their camp downtown to the city’s municipal centre, where they aim to highlight the brutal impact of government cuts on ordinary citizens.

4.37pm: My colleagues Mariana Santos and Simon Rodgers have produced this animation explaining what key data says about wealth in America:

So what of the 1%? In an accompanying blog post Simon Rodgers, the Guardian’s data editor, explains:

In fact, the super rich – the top 0.01% of the population – own more of the national wealth now than at any time since 1928, just before the Great Depression. And the richest 1% of the US population? They own a third of US net worth.

3.44pm: The New York action tomorrow will be backed by a number of unions. The strong economy for all coalition, made up of unions and community groups, has a post about the day of action on its website. “Participating labor organizations include UFT, SEIU 1199, SEIU 32BJ, CWA, TWU, UAW Region 9A, Workers United, and PSC-CUNY,” the coalition says.


The Occupy Wall Street movement and the November 17th day of action have also been endorsed by the following organizations: Make the Road NY, Move On, Citizen Action NY, Coalition for the Homeless, Common Cause NY, Community Voices Heard, Goddard Riverside Community Center, Granny Peace Brigade, Hunger Action Network of NY, 2022- A Penn South Organization, 99ers, Chelsea Forum, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), Coalition for Educational Justice, the Job Party, Judson Memorial Church, NEDAP, New Deal for New York, New Sanctuary NYC, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, NYC Coalition for Education Justice, Peaceful Uprising, and Right to the City.

2.10pm: Move on, the public policy advocacy group backing OWS have set up a webpage which allows the public to tap in their post code to find out about any local actions on Thursday 17 November, reports Karen McVeigh.

The site urges people to “show the 99 per cent cannot be evicted or silenced” by engaging in the events planned or to host their own events.

It said: “We’re just days from the Super Committee’s deadline to propose more cuts for the 99% or increased taxes for the 1%. So come out and help increase the pressure on Congress to tax Wall Street to create millions of jobs.”

1.31pm: Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s office assuring protesters through Twitter that the ‘people’s library’ was safe and well, some of Occupy Wall Street’s librarians have been to see the books taken on Tuesday morning and complain some items are damaged or missing.

The Occupy Wall Street library blog quotes people at the sanitation centre as saying “many books [have been] destroyed”.

One of the librarians has compiled a list of what is missing:

* Between 2,000 and 4,000 books (we’ll know if it looks right when we see it ), this includes five boxes of “Reference” materials many of which were autographed by the authors;
* Our custom made “OWS library stamps;”
* 5 (4?) laptop computers;
* Our wifi device;
* miscellaneous paper supplies;
* A round portable table;
* a rectangular portable table;
* 6 metal shelves (five of which had been set up in two pieces);
* three sets of wooden drawers;
* a periodicals spinning rack;
* Approximately 60 plastic tubs/bins of varying sizes (most small, but several big);
* archival materials (I was starting to collect some stuff in the library);
* posters (including many original posters created by OWS participants);
* two lamps;
* four solar lights;
* 7 (or so) chairs;
* a wooden dinner table (that was our’s right?);
* periodicals/newspapers/zines (not counted in our book total);
* our awesome tent;
* signage;
* personal belongings of librarians;

1.10pm: Daniel Alterman, one of the lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild who represented OWS in their attempts to take back Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, said he was concerned about police going beyond rules they could legally enforce at the park, Karen McVeigh reports.

He said that police efforts to impose a ban on sleeping bags could be challenged.

“We’ve very concerned that the camping equipment was seized and was either thrown out or is not being made available” said Alterman.

“We are also concerned about unreasonable searches going on in the park. They are trying to say that you cannot bring a sleeping bag into the park. In our view that could be challengable.”

Alterman said lawyers were talking about these issues and would decide later today whether to take any action. They will also decide whether to appeal Justice Michael Stillman’s decision not to grant an emergency order which would have allowed activist back into Zuccotti Park with their tents.

1.06pm: On the East side of Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street had built up a considerable collection of books in the so-called People’s Library, members of the library committee are laying out freshly donated books in plastic bags to protect them from the rain, writes Karen McVeigh.

Stephen Boyer, 32, from the library committee said that, over the last hour, the library has already triped in size.


Stephen Boyer
Stephen Boyer Photograph: Karen McVeigh

“Yesterday there was so much press about the destruction of the library and 5500 books that Mayor Bloomberg put out a picture saying they hadn’t been destroyed. But we’ve had donations come in fast. In the last hour, it’s tripled in size.”

Boyer said that people from the committee were “trying to salvage what they can” from the Sanitation Department garage where the city dumped all the confiscated property from the eviction. But he wasn’t confident that much could be salvaged.

“Ten computers donated to us were all destroyed. The majority of the books are destroyed.”

In the process of Tuesday’s eviction, during which police confiscated tents, clothing, backpacks and other property, protesters claim more than 5000 books from the library were thrown into a dumpster truck and destroyed. The mayor’s office then tweeted a picture and the message that “Property from #Zuccotti, incl #OWS library, safely stored @ 57th St Sanit Garage; can be picked up Weds.”

According to the city’s eviction notice, the “property will be stored at the Department of Sanitation parking garage at 650 West 57th St.”

But the librarians dispute this: “It was clear from the livestream and witnesses inside the park that the property was destroyed by police and DSNY workers before it was thrown in dumpsters.”

12.12pm: A small group of up to 40 diehards who stayed in Zuccotti Park all through Tuesday night, after the previous day’s eviction, were tired and dazed after two nights of little rest, writes Karen McVeigh.

Anyone found lying down and even a few of those who tried to sleep sitting up were woken by security guards for Brookfield Properties, the park’s owners, in a fresh crackdown of strict rules, which, in case anyone is in any doubt, have been posted on metal plaques around the park. Huddles of security guards in yellow jackets were dotted around the park, while metal barricades surround it. There are a couple of entrances and police were searching those with large bags attempting to enter.


Kristopher Cook Occupy
Kristopher Cook Occupy Photograph: Karen McVeigh

Kristopher Cook, 32, from Buffalo, New York, has been with the protest for a month, said the police and security guards were no longer allowing people to sleep in the park.

“I tried to get some sleep. I didn’t have a sleeping bag or anything because they took all my stuff – my tent, my clothes and all I had. But a female cop came and told me to sit up, she wouldn’t allow me to lie down.”

Cook said that he was unable to go and collect his confiscated belongings from the Sanitation Department, where the city authorities told protesters they could collect them, because he did not have proper ID.

“I’ve got a social security card and a metro card with photo ID and that’s it.”
Another protester, Alex Wilkins, 24, from Yonkers New York, said he stayed all night in the park with about between 30-50 others.

“They were scattered around the park,” Wilkins, who arrived at the protest on Tuesday after seeing the eviction being live streamed by Occupy, said.


Alex Wilkins occupy
Alex Wilkins occupy Photograph: Karen McVeigh

“I managed to sleep for about two hours. The sign outside says you can’t lie down and I saw the guards enforcing it all around, but it seemed to be totally arbitrary. There was one girl who wasn’t even lying down, she was trying to sleep sitting up but they disturbed her. No-one got much sleep.’

“We’re not allowed tents, sleeping bags, large backbacks. We’re not allowed cardboard but if it’s written on, they allow it because then it’s a sign.”

Wilkins said there was a “bit” of trouble as protesters, tired from lack of sleep and bored, fought with security guards and vice versa: “The security guards are bored too.”

He was concerned that the security guards have no identification badges.

“None of the Brookfield guys have badges. They have no accountability to us. And the enforcement of these rules seem to be entirely arbitrary.”

Others in the park said they had spent the night with friends or in subway tunnels as they were warmer than the park.

11.40am: A London update – officials have attached eviction notices to protest tents outside St Paul’s Cathedral, asking demonstrators to remove the camp within a day or face legal action.

The notices posted by the City of London corporation said the encampment was “an unlawful obstruction” of a sidewalk, and asked protesters to take down “all tents and other structures” by 6pm (1pm EST) Thursday.

Cathedral and city officials had suspended legal action to remove the camp two weeks ago, and offered the protesters a deal to allow them to stay until the new year if they then agreed to leave. But the corporation said Tuesday that talks had failed and it was resuming legal action.

If the tents are not removed, the corporation says it will go to court seeking an eviction notice – a process that could take weeks or months.

More than 200 tents have been pitched outside the famous domed church since Oct. 15 in a protest against capitalist excess inspired by New York’s Occupy Wall Street, and the protesters said they would resist attempts to move them.

“We will contest it,” spokeswoman Naomi Colvin said. “We will be speaking to our legal team and we will be fighting it.”

The governing Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral said in a statement that it recognized “the local authority’s statutory right to proceed with the action it has today,” but would continue to meet with protesters in a bid to find a peaceful solution.

10.56am: AP reports that an 84-year-old woman and a pregnant woman were among the protesters pepper-sprayed at an Occupy demonstration in Seattle on Tuesday.

“Police police scattered a crowd of rowdy protesters … with blasts of pepper spray,” the agency said.

The picture below shows 84-year-old Dorli Rainey after she was hit by the spray. The image looks dramatic but it should be noted that the fluid dripping from Rainey’s face is probably a solution applied by medics to calm the effects of the pepper spray.


Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, after being hit with pepper spray at an Occupy Seattle protest
Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, after being hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest. Photograph: Joshua Trujillo/AP

Seattle protest organizers apparently denounced the use of force, saying that police indiscriminately sprayed the chemical irritant at peaceful protesters.

From AP:

The Occupy Seattle movement released a written statement late Tuesday expressing support for “a 4-foot 10-inch, 84-year-old woman, a priest and a pregnant woman who as of this writing is still in the hospital.”

Dorli Rainey is an activist who has supported liberal causes in the Seattle area for decades. A photo showing Rainey being cared for by fellow activists in the immediate aftermath of the police incident appeared on news websites around the world.

Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said he didn’t have specifics on the Rainey incident, but he said pepper spray is “is not age specific. No more dangerous to someone who is 10 or someone who is 80.”

He added, that if it were harmful, “we probably wouldn’t be using pepper spray if that was the case.”

Kappel said police had not yet established whether a pregnant woman was involved.

Paramedics examined a handful of people, including a 19-year-old woman who was three-months pregnant, Seattle fire department spokesman Kyle Moore said. The Seattle Times reported on its website that the woman was taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center.


Seattle police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest.
Seattle police officers deploy pepper spray into a crowd during an Occupy Seattle protest. Photograph: Joshua Trujillo/AP

This photo shows the pepper spray being deployed by police:

10.30am: Occupy Wall Street’s website has a list of the action they are planning tomorrow.

It begins with a bid to “shut down Wall Street”, and includes a bid to occupy the subways. From the OWS site:

BREAKFAST: Shut Down Wall Street – 7am

Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us. It’s time we put an end to Wall Street’s reign of terror and begin building an economy that works for all. We will gather in Liberty Square at 7am, before the ring of the Trading Floor Bell, to prepare to confront Wall Street with the stories of people on the frontlines of economic injustice. There, before the Stock Exchange, we will exchange stories rather than stocks.

LUNCH: Occupy The Subways – 3pm

We will start by Occupying Our Blocks! Then throughout the five boroughs, we will gather at 16 central subway hubs and take our own stories to the trains, using the “People’s Mic”.

[...]

DINNER: Take The Square – 5pm

At 5pm, tens of thousands of people will gather at Foley Square (just across from City Hall) in solidarity with laborers demanding jobs to rebuild this country’s infrastructure and economy. A gospel choir and a marching band will also be performing.

Afterwards we will march to our bridges. Let’s make it as musical a march as possible – bring your songs, your voice, your spirit! Our “Musical” on the bridge will culminate in a festival of light as we mark the two-month anniversary of the #occupy movement, and our commitment to shining light into our broken economic and political system.

10am: On Tuesday morning Occupy Wall Street protesters were removed from their base at Zuccotti Park, two days shy of their two month anniversary.

This morning a small group of protesters have returned to the base in Lower Manhattan, after a chaotic day yesterday which saw protesters decamp to Foley Square half a mile from Zuccotti, briefly occupy Duarte Square after a protest march, and fail in their court bid to win the right to resume camping in Lower Manhattan.

On Thursday Occupy demonstrators were already planning an ‘Occupy Everywhere’ day of action, with call for action across the globe.

In New York protesters say they will “shut down Wall Street” at 7am, before protesting at various Subway stations around New York. In the evening a march is planned from Foley Square to Brooklyn Bridge – where some 700 protesters were arrested in October.

Follow live coverage as planning continues for Thursday’s day of action, and as protesters adjust to having lost their Zuccotti Park base.

Article source: http://www.guardiannews.com/world/blog/2011/nov/16/occupy-wall-street-live-protesters-eviction

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