What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What I Saw Tonight

Written Monday 4/16

So after work (which I am now apparently on my way out of again) I ran over to the occupation on Wall St.  There was lots of chatter about the police talking about pushing people out and mass arrests etc.  I got there at a point where it seemed little had happened yet, but that maybe it was at a tipping point.  There was a group of about a hundred occupiers sitting on the steps kitty corner to the stock exchange.  The protestors have been staying down there for a solid week now, sleeping on the sidewalks while being harassed ever few hours by the police.     

But apparently, by tonight they'd had enough.  As it turned out later the police changed the designation there to a "high security" area so normal laws no longer applied. Apparently several people from the local community had taken umbrage and set up directly across the street from the occupied steps.  There sat the Occupiers being shouted at and shouting and mic checking right back at the community members (about 10-15) and with the community members shouting actually even more vociferously.  I will certainly say that there were a few community members that were really loud and nasty and seemed to me to be antagonizing.  The occupiers were of course engaging in there typical protest filled banter on the system.

The interesting thing of course was the police.  They were positioned in a guarding position for the community members.  Letting them shout nasty things from the protection of a police barricade.  At one point it started to get ugly and the true nature of our police state became very evident.  I don't know what was said, or what provoked it though.  There were a few occupiers doing what they do, holding signs and pointing out hypocrisy and educating people on society's ills in a pretty frank manner.  The one guy directly involved with this incident I know fairly well.  He is a pretty mild mannered unabashedly gay African-American guy.  Like I said, I don't know what he said, but what I know of him, I can't imagine it warranted the response he got.  A middle aged white guy from the community (later rumored to be on the community board and wedded to someone on the Today show), attacked him.  Again, I didn't see how it started, but I saw where the protester was standing prior to it, and where the other guy was, and the other guy crossed through the police lines and attacked the protestor - two of them actually.  Swing punches and going all out.  The police and other protestors had to pull him away while the protestor being attacked used his sign as a shield and was giving ground.  What do you think happened next?

The two black protestors got arrested, and the white guy got ushered around the corner - only to be seen later milling around and chatting it up with people.  WTF!!  That was the way the night went.  The cops protected and did the will of the non-occupier's, arrested occupiers for being too loud, but not the locals. Arrested us for sitting on the sidewalk, but not them.  One blonde woman stood there from behind her police barricade and shouted obscenities at the occupiers, and then cheered and smugly smiled as we got arrested for shouting back.

The whole thing was shameless.  Lily almost got arrested for having some horrible arrogant white guy from the neighborhood that earlier I had to walk away from as he was so rude and bigoted.  He accosted her, they bickered, and when he realized she was actually probably a WHOLE lot more intelligent than him, he started throwing personal -hurtful - insults at her, shameless.  But even more shameless was the officer coming over and telling Lily she had to move or get arrested.  When the guy realized that he was at a loss as a woman might actually be able to intellectually best him, he went and told the cop she was provoking him.  So in comes an African American police woman who came and got after Lily.  Seriously?!?  This is our lives; they start it, we interact and engage with the dialog, and then we get arrested while they smirk.  This is what a police state looks like.  

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