New York City--Me and my girlfriend paid a couple of visits to the Wall Street occupation over the last couple of weeks (on September 30th and October 7th), two days with marked contrasts for the site. September 30 was brimming with occupiers--as many as between 700 to 1,000 core individuals from New York were present (exact numbers are difficult to come by since how one defines an occupier can slippery at best), it was literally standing room only with "visitors" like myself.
It's my opinion that as this is a mostly symbolic action, "visitors" are just as worthy of being counted among the occupiers since we all share the same views about Wall Street and the bailout of the biggest American banks. We have come from all over the nation, from all walks of life and from a variety of age groups, a variety of demographics. What all of us share is that we're working class and that we're getting screwed by the economic sector and the political class. We know that working within the political process isn't going to bring about reform.
This occupation could go on record as the most photographed and recorded political event in American history to date, not even the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.
Contrary to the contentions of early mainstream coverage, the occupiers aren't all twenty-somethings and they have a solid focus on why they're there and what their demands are: radical reform of the financial sector.
Also on that September 30 came some of the first representatives of American labor--the Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100--and we were present, recording the event...along with an NYPD surveillance pod on a crane and nearly everyone else there. The TWU has sued the City of New York for commandeering five MTA buses to arrest Wall Street occupiers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and lost, the cops can arrest them if they refuse to allow the action. Interestingly, police on the curbside began enforcing pedestrian codes, as if on cue once the TWU showed, but I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusion. Had the cops not rioted again two nights earlier, beating and pepper-spraying occupiers once again, I wouldn't be so suspicious of their motives.
A number of plainclothes detectives were on hand as well as select NYPD who were photographing and videotaping everyone in the crowd. But many of the cops I've encountered were simply doing their jobs. An "us vs. them" mentality should be applied when brutality and extralegal behavior are present, but not as a default, my opinion.
There have also been unsubstantiated rumors that police planted among the occupiers were arresting individuals on the 5th of October--they have yet to be proven out. It's not the first of such rumors either that has been making the rounds. My own conclusion from both visits is that the core of the occupiers is well organized and know what they're doing. They're resourceful and could be ready for the long haul when the occupation itself ends and the real work of organizing begins, and a beginning is what this is. Right now, the police shenanigans at the Brooklyn Bridge and the resumption of extralegal brutality on the 5th of this month have seemingly thinned the ranks. That's if you only count them and leave out us visitors...From September 30th:Above: Speeches by occupiers, not leaders. As no bullhorns are allowed by NYPD, every few words are relayed across the crowd by selected individuals, spaced-apart, so as to reach the farthest boundaries of Zuccotti Park.All images the intellectual property of Matt Janovic and Isabel Martins. Copyright 2011.