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...

Monday, September 17, 2012


September 17th was great...  Occupy's one year anniversary was a truly festive day that I didn't know how much I'd be able to be a part of.   After getting hit on my bike again (yes, again, coming back from going to the hospital to get checked out from the first time), I was pretty tense and sore.  Neck, back, hip and now knee.  I thought for the day that I'd sleep in and see how it felt when I woke up/if it was swollen, and I didn't even go to sleep until almost 2am.  But wouldn't you know, that my soul knows better that to take such absurd precautions.

I was already partly awake at 5:45 when my friend texted to see if we could go in together.  I wavered for a sleep deprived moment thinking of my plan to be prudent about my knee.  But I quickly found absolutely no reason not to get my ass up and get in there.  Passion is passion after all.  I mean, its the year anniversary!  I/we put so much into this, and it means so much to me.  My body, heart, and soul knew what my mind was trying to rationally ignore: nothing was gonna stop me from being there.

I had this song coursing through my head all day....

So the Think Tank crew met up around 7 at 55 water street as part of the debt area protest.  Lower Manhattan was divided into four areas, the 99%, education, eco, and debt.  We sorted out our crew, took our precautions, and started off with everyone else.  The morning was planned to be pretty open and fluid.   We were going to keep people from getting to the stock exchange.  But I'm not as much of a direct physical action type and not interested in getting arrested, so I didn't get to far into all that.  As people saw the next day though, there were a lot of arrests.  Many for people sitting down in the streets or blocking the way to the exchange (typical civil disobedience ala Ghandi style), but sadly most of the ones I saw were pretty random and absurd.  Grabbing people out of crowds on the sidewalk and arresting them seemingly just for being there.  But that is an old and tired discourse. The police are absurd, and the media's coverage of it all are of course going to be as well.  Again, we know this.  So lets talk about things we don't know!!

My feeling from that morning as I limped around lower Manhattan was that there were swarms of occupiers on every corner.  Around every building we turned, swaths of people.  Yes, I know the media will say there were 100 people marching and 180 arrests.... but I swear to you that something within that statement is inherent false!  There were a couple thousand people down there in the morning probably.  The point of the whole protest though was for them to be dispersed and to not move as one large mass.  The groups just kept moving and swirling their way away from cops and blockaids. 

It was a really good and inspiring action as I saw it.  But one that will not get good press given it seeming smaller than it was and fragmented - even if by design.  After a while I sat down with my co-occupier (who recently found out that she was being occupied by a little mini occupier!  Yes, be wary, we do multiply!!  ;)  Anyway, we caught a rest and then headed back out for some fun and excitement.  We walked around for a while, getting back into the flow of the day and the different actions.  

Eventually a number of us settled into liberty/zuccotti park and started up a Think Tank discussion.  WOW!!!!  We went for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS!!!  Talking about how to reach the 99%.  There was so much interest.  Our group varied from about 40 to maybe 70 people at any one time.  Such incredible insight and vantage points.  You can see notes here and someday audio will be up there as well.

The Think Tank discusses reaching the 99%

After this I poked around the park for a few hours.  Meeting new people, catching up with old people.  It was great.  We then had a popular assembly to discuss the day, what people thought of it, and what they did.  My group had a guy that had come up from New Orleans, one in from London, four more local stalwarts, and a new older woman there for her first time.  Everyone had different expereinces of the day and different perspectives to add.  you know the media has complete over blown the hurricane issac story?  That's the word on the street...  London can't do like we do in NYC, but their doing it like they do and are doing it, doing it, doing well!!  (yeah, to the melody of LL Cool J...).

It was getting late at this point and we were over 12 hours straight with little rest or to eat.  We wanted to stick around for the OWS Birthday cake, but that was apparently coming much later.  We slowly started to disband, but two of us ended up grabbing some of my favorit indian food around the corner and talking Occupy with the owner.  I've been going there for a year, and as I do, am tight with the owners.  Good perspectives to be learned there from local business owners.  In it for the long term, they agree with teh cause and the issues, but still, have additional issues with the methods of the movement.  Time to make the think tank happen!!

Home I went.  I was asleep 20 minutes after I got in the door.  Exhausting, invigorating, and inspiring.  I am so glad I was there for it all, and so glad that Occupy will be around forever.  

Yup!!  Free Kisses!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Occupying Decency

Occupy!!!!!  So yesterday was wonderful!  Back in the occupied saddle.   It was lovely.  I saw so many friends and acquaintances that I have sweat with and stood ground next to, even bled with.  I was at Occupy town square for the anniversary festivities.  The first occupy town square was at washington sq park, and this one was much better and bigger!  Not that the first one wasn't great.  But this one seemed more magnanimous and had a whole crew of people from all over the world there.  A huge convergence for the Occupy S17 anniversary.  I guess all I can say is that it was so nice to be back around these people that are all working towards such great causes, and focusing on treating people with such dignity and respect.  I don't ever have to convince anyone down at occupy about world views or my contempt for the political system. The minute I step out of Occupy I run across people where I am always seemingly taking a "radical" stance.  I am the crazy guy tearing apart the system, raising issues that others don't see or don't maybe care much about

But this is where I came to yesterday: I don't care what you think about occupy or its methods, but if the world was full of people with Occupy's values we would have no problems.  Caring, loving, patient (or at least devoutly trying to be), they just fundamentally view the world in a way that respects everyone and everything in it.  Imagine a world where everyone respected everyone?  Everything?  No really, imagine if every person you came across today treated you with dignity and respect from the depths of their and your core?  Imagine if governments, businesses, services, everything was designed by and for people that fundamentally respected each and every person and thing in the world above all else? Black, white, brown, male, female, both, young, old, religion, ethnicity, whatever.  Imagine if EVERYONE was like this and had a world view that was like this.  The world would be a TREMENDOUSLY different place.... a much better place I think. So say what you will about Occupy, but they are good people, with great values.  We would all be so lucky to be surrounded by such good people. 

Police Thinking

So I gt hit by a car on Thursday (9/13).  I was riding my bike in the bike lane on Christie street headed towards the Manhattan bridge.  A big black BMW SUV pulled out of standstill traffic and into the bike lane, thinking he'd get ahead while cutting me off.  When he got pinched and couldn't go any further I went around him and pointed to the bike lane and said “so where do we go?” “You're in the bike lane!?” He responded with with an abrasive Fuck You styled aggression filled response you'd only expect stereotyped from Jersey Shore.  I kinda kept moving slowly while responding in a kinder version biking legalese that didn't resemble backing down but wasn't aggressive like his but more matter of fact (those who know me can imagine..;).  As the lane opened a bit I started to go through, only to hear the roar of an engine in my left ear and all of a sudden I got hit on my left side and handle bars from behind (I think).  The wheel turned maybe, I went straight over the bars, the bike I think landed on or my hit back area while the car sped off.  It stopped briefly at the light ahead (as I tried to write down the license plate number), and then turned and was gone.  I lay on my stomach assessing my bits while others checked on me and tried to help me up.  I was amazed, and really just wanted this guy to not get away with it.  I called the 911 and some passers by in a car gave me a little first aid kit.

I refused an ambulance because I felt ok, I had a couple scrapes and bruises, but I'd had worse in football and life.  Of course, by the time the cops got there it was one hour and twenty minutes later and three calls to 911.  By this point my back and hip were starting to stiffen up.  But still I didn't think it was anything to get concerned about.  Really I just wanted to make sure this guy didn't get away with it.

The cop eventually pulls up and firstly wants to know if I need an ambulance.   I'm wishy-washy.  I don't know if I still have medicaid.  I think I do, but never got that confirmed as I lost my address before I got paperwork confirming it.  So I am reticent to get an ambulance as with no insurance and no money I'm screwed.  I can't afford that bill.  So I say no.  If money was no option, yeah, I'd have gotten checked out. But it is.  He pushes, "it's a simple yes or no answer." "yes or no?", as if someone just hit by a car thinks so clearly?  Kind of like, officer, are you an asshole?  Yes or no?  Come on, its a simple yes or no answer.  No you obviously are not. You have friends and family, people you love, things you do that show it.   No you are not an asshole.  So don't act like one right now to me. This was the way the conversation would go.  He then asked for my ID.  Which I had forgotten that day of all days.   He then proceeded to lecture me about not having an ID on me.  That I could be making up names and my life, and this incident.   That I could get a summons for not having a valid ID on me.   What?!?!  um, right....  Anyway, I questioned it subtly in an attempt to just get past it and move on.  Kind of an I don't need a drivers license to ride a bike, I don't have it what info do you need.  Needless to say he just continued on in his police speak aggressive tone.  The authoritative, shut the fuck up speech that they always give you when you ask a question or don't immediately jump as high as the ask you to.  It's like there's cop school where they send them to go learn how to verbally bludgeon people into submissiveness.  It's so sad.  I finally got to the point where I just said to him, “officer I just got hit by a car, it would really be nice if you could show a little compassion”.   He responded defensively and with vigor about how his job was to weed out people faking these claims.   That he had to be certain that I was telling the truth and not making things up.  Claiming it was his job to push me and to make me feel awkward to the point that if I was making my story up that I would waver and give up the attempt.  Basically, that I could just have a vendetta against someone and be filing a false police complaint.   Yeah well, if it didn't take an hour and twenty minutes for you to get there there would have still be witnesses....

Anyway, it was absurd.   To say that this was what he was supposed to do.  How he was trained to push people and to make sure they were in the right place.  As if getting hit by a car is an everyday occurrence and doesn't require any empathy.  Would you treat your grandmother like that?  Your mom?  Anyone you weren't assuming was a criminal?

This to me is what the problem is, and I hear it in the words of every police and law enforcement officer I speak to.  You are a criminal if you come in contact with me, you are a criminal in general until I eliminate that from my detectiving.  ----Pause---- I am writing this in the hospital and they just put a neck brace on me. It's tough to write in a neck brace ----Unpause----  So yeah, police officers always are looking for criminals.  If that is your soul goal, then how you treat people initially is going to come across as such.  It is tragic really.  After he and I got all done playing paperwork games and had developed a more friendly repore, I mentioned to him again that just as a thought that maybe he should work towards finding a better balance between doing his job and showing compassion in this type of situation.  We talked for another 15 minutes and I would consider him a friend at this point.  Yes, I consider everyone a friend, but you know what I mean.  I mean that is the way it always works with me! ;)  But still though, I think I got the message across to him.  He told me where he always is working there and writes tickets all the time for the bike lane.  But as it is, my point in writing this is to say that I think its horrible how cops speak to people.  Aggressive, authoritarian, and as if their authority is unquestionable and inherently legitimate no mater how just or lawful what they are saying.  They do not speak with respect or from a place of dignity for others.  Power over others that is all to often abused - as I felt it was with me after I was run down by a car. Sadly.