There is nothing more infuriating than dragging your lazy ass out of bed at 5 a.m. in anticipation of heading downtown to watch some rabble rousers get their heads cracked open by the cops and it doesn’t happen.
That’s what happened this morning. Bloomberg blinked and I missed it by 15 minutes. I knew I was going to be late to the dance as usual, except this time the dance was canceled.
I arrived at around 6:45 and Zucotti Park was filled to capacity. Protesters formed a human wall around most of the edges of the park. They left their west and east flanks totally exposed. But it seemed more symbolic than anything else.
Almost the minute I arrived I could tell there would be no action. Cops left traffic flow on Broadway and on Church. If they were going to make a move, there weren’t enough cops on hand to roust anybody.
As the 7:00 deadline came and went, I was sure the eviction was called off. I talked to an observer from the NYCLU who informed me they had called it off indefinitely. That’s when I learned about the announcement to the crowd at 6:30. She then continued her project of counting the surveillance cameras in the area.
The Halal trucks across from the park were doing brisk business. I bought some coffee and asked the guy how business was this morning. He shook his head back and forth. Then realizing what I had said, smiled and said, “This morning? Business is real good.”
Another reason I had my doubts about any police action was that the Halal trucks were open and doing business inside Zucotti Park. It seemed strange that cops would allow them to be there if any action was intended.
At around 8:30 all of a sudden reinforcements started to arrive. A Phalanx of cops with plastic cuffs attached to their waists started marching down Broadway past the park. It was around that time the “scooter unit” took off down the street and police vans one after another filed by.
A Spanish news camerawoman told me, with a smile and a glint in her eye, there were more on the way. She saw them walking down Broadway.
But it seemed it was merely a show of force; an attempt to intimidate which had no effect.
By late morning, the crowds had thinned and the protest was back to normal. As I made my way through the park, quite a few people were sleeping the sleep of The Just. More than likely they had been up all night cleaning and anticipating trouble at dawn. Now they were dreaming, probably of puppies and unicorns shitting rainbows.
One of the more heartening sights was the presence of hard hats, guys working at the WTC. They were standing inside the park in solidarity with the protesters.
Now, some will say, yeah we know that organized labor is with them. But we’re talking hard hats here.
For those who are too young to remember, and for those who are too old that they don’t, at one time, protesters and hard hats were mortal enemies. That was during the Vietnam War. Hard hats would have loved to beat the living shit out of those kids and sometimes they did.
Granted, that was decades and generations ago, but that sight today made a huge impression. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts those hard hats today share no other political view with those in the park. It showed that the issue is not left or right, but an issue that all working Americans get can behind together.
Along with the hard hats, I saw many waving American Flags. Yup, that’s right the dreaded American flag. Today seemed to be a day when the flag was taken back from the right wing crazies who wrap themselves in it to justify their depraved ideology. They have co-opted that symbol for far too long.
I did encounter some humorous moments such as an older guy, standing all alone with a little hand written sign that read “We’re here, We’re unclear, Get used to it.” Then there was the woman with the Protest Chaplain sticker on her shirt. I asked her why she was against Charlie Chaplin. He was the Little Tramp, after all. Apparently, I won Miss Originality with that joke. “That’s one we haven’t heard, she told me.
The big question of the day is why? Why was no action taken? One reason may be that since the park is private, the owner has to go to court get an order evicting them which the owner Brookfield Properties has not yet done. But why not? No answer has been forthcoming.
Here’s some grist for the conspiracy mill. Bloomberg’s “girlfriend” sits on the board of Brookfield Properties. Brookfield is involved in a renewable energy project in New Hampshire and last year received a $535 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
Another scenario is this was a dry run just to see what the protesters would do. It seems odd that the City would warn them and give them an eviction deadline. My theory is that when and if they decide to roust them, there will be no warning. They’ll swoop down in the middle of the night with their Black Mariah’s and invade the park and sweep everyone up. No chance to respond, at least in an organized way.
Until then, the OWS movement has been re-energized. They won a big battle by standing their ground. If and when they get booted from the park, they can be satisfied that they achieved what they came to do. Well, maybe they haven’t changed the country yet, but they got off to a damn good start. And they did it against all odds and the harrumphing of cynical old bastards like myself.
What started as a rag tag, rudderless protest has grown into an international movement. When they leave, let’s hope they continue it in their own communities. Except without the drum circles and burning sage. Oh, and for Pete’s sake, would it kill you to put on a tie?