martes, 22 de noviembre de 2011

Occupy Wall Street 10-04-11

This is the second column by activist Omar Henriquez looking at immigrant participation in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I walked toward Zuccotti Park by way of Greenwich Street, passing the famous St. Paul churchyard, the one unscathed by the terrorist attack.

Right at the corner of Church and Liberty, a police crane was positioned. On top of it, a cubicle with tinted windows, constantly monitoring, filming and taking pictures.

It was October 4, and the police presence was everywhere, except inside the park. The infamous NYPD white shirts and the metal barricades stood out, but they didn’t stop the occupiers from undertaking their daily marches and actions.

It was inspiring to see the resolve of the occupiers, young people not intimidated by the police, or anything, really.

Just a few days earlier, about 700 protesters were arrested as they were marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. The result: Even more people came and joined the protest after that.

I first walked around the park, just observing and absorbing everything. I saw and read signs, lots of signs.

People were just sitting or standing around the park’s perimeter, holding the signs, talking to each other, engaging people in conversations about why they were there.

As I was wrapping up my second time going around the park, I heard someone shouting “mic check, mic check” and then saw people gathering around the person who had shouted.

What happened next is what happens each time someone wants to address the people. Cornell West, Michael Moore, and the rest, all have to rely on this method.

Since there are no mics, bullhorns, or sound system permitted in the park, the “mic check” is elicited. When attention is given, the speaker begins to talk in short sentences. The crowd then repeats everything the speaker had said, thus amplifying the sound, making it easy for other people to hear what’s being said or discussed.

Very ingenious, I thought. Another example of how the occupiers were dealing with any shortcomings or obstacles thrown their way.

Inside one of the park’s corner, where Liberty and Broadway meet, I noticed lots of books, and then I read the sign, “The People’s Library,” where people were reading and talking. I later met Erick, one of the movement’s librarians.

I had been at the park for close to five hours, and had already spoken to lots of people. Some were the original occupiers, others just supporters, and yet others just plain people, seeing how they could help and get involved.

I recalled Bryan, a young man in his early twenties. He had been there since the beginning. I was impressed by his commitment and world knowledge. He was my first contact and provided me with the answers to my questions.

I was well aware of the relentless media efforts to get the occupiers to state their demands, purpose, goals, message, and the like.

After conversing with Bryan it became perfectly clear to me. He told me what I have and everyone else involved in this movement been repeating since, “We are the 99,” meaning I am part of the 99 percent that have less than the top 1 percent.

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