Yesterday afternoon, news was flying around that the Occupy Wall Street contingent would be removed from the park today at 7am for cleaning. This message was sent by the private management company that owns the space, but allows it to be open to the public. The OWS crew has sparked this incredible national movement, with similar protests around the country.
Because of a serious call to action yesterday, thousands showed up at OWS last night and this morning to show support for the protest and prevent the eviction. The OWS team created cleaning crews in an attempt to clean the park themselves (the owners claimed conditions were unsanitary). Allison Kilkenney has the full story for The Nation about what went down at OWS late last night and early this morning:
Hundreds more were prepared to go to jail to hold the park. In the pre-dawn hours, activists rolled up their sleeves and scrawled the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild on their forearms in permanent marker. A foreign journalist saw me writing the number on my arm and asked, surprised, “[The police] arrest press?!” I started laughing before realizing she was seriously asking me.
Occupiers then rehearsed over and over again a meticulously choreographed routine to lock arms and defend the camp. The plan was to allow the cleaning of the park, but only a third at a time. No one I spoke to really seemed to think this would transpire without a major incident. Many activists seemed completely prepared to go to prison in order to defend what has become the nexus of the largest activism force in the U.S. to come along in four decades.
This morning, the company announced it would put off the cleaning for a few more days in an attempt to negotiate a suitable arrangement with OWS, according to Bloomberg Business Week.
This is a definite win for the OWS contingent, whose protest has only gained momentum as it’s gone on. While a number of people were arrested during a post-decision march to City Hall, the OWS remains firmly rooted in Zuccotti Park.
I made it down to OWS for the first time last weekend. I’ve been fascinated by the movement, and in particular, their way of making decisions via consensus. This video was just released about the decision-making process at OWS. It’s a complicated one, since there is no leader, and all decisions are made by large groups of people gathered for daily general assemblies.
I think we owe a lot to these dedicated protestors. Just as the Tea Party captured the imagination of our country two years ago, so do the thousands of people involved in Occupy movements around the country. They are not without their problems, but they seem to be having a positive impact on our right-leaning culture. From the Washington Post:
If you want to know more about the economic climate that spurred OWS, this is a good place to start.