Category Archives: 11/15 Eviction

Wrapping Up

Dear friends of the People’s Library, we recently hit a turning point in the history of our beloved library. As you may remember, last spring we reached a settlement with the city and it’s various departments and officials. We received $47,000 and a not-quite-apology. We got lots of questions about what we were going to do with all that money.

As the city and the NYPD have made it an impossible thing to plant libraries such as we once had, we knew it would be futile and wasteful to attempt such a thing. Further, we are tired and busy, and many of us have moved on to other projects and several have left NYC for less hellish homes.  Besides which, money being power, and power corrupting… we didn’t want it. After all, it wasn’t really about the money, it’s just that money is how capitalist government says it’s sorry. Earlier on in the lawsuit process, we were offered a settlement without the not-quite-apology. We didn’t take it.

Anyway, we had no use for it, but we knew there were lots of groups that could use it. We drew up a list of groups we’d like to help out, divided, and wrote some checks.

Of course, it wasn’t actually that simple. There was a ridiculous group video conference, where we spent more time trying to get the damn thing to work than actually talking, for example. It obviously took a while. I’d especially like to thank Michele, Danny, and Zachary for staying on top of it and doing most of the legwork. I’d also like to thank our liaisons from Finance for helping us out along the way. And, as always, big thanks to our lawyers.

For transparency’s sake, here’s the list of groups we gave it to. We’ve held on to a little bit for things like maintaining the domain registrations of the blog and what-have-you.

  • Word Up Community Bookshop
  • The Brecht Forum
  • Bluestockings Books
  • Queers for Economic Justice
  • National Lawyers Guild
  • Food for Thought Books
  • Waging Nonviolence
  • Reader to Reader
  • Silvia Rivera Law Project
  • OWS Jail Support / Just Info
  • Indiana Prison College
  • Free University NYC
  • Books Through Bars
  • Housing Works
  • NYC Anarchist Black Cross
  • Pink and Black
  • Urban Librarians Unite
  • Queens Café (new community space in Queens)
  • Leadnow
  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • NYCLU
  • Demand Progress
  • Brooklyn Public Library
  • Queens Library Foundation
  • New York Public Library
  • New Alternatives
  • Bailey House
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives
  • Interference Archive
  • American Indian College Fund
  • Brooklyn Base
  • Tamiment Library
  • OWS poetry Anthology

So, that’s pretty much it, y’all. It’s been great to serve you as your faithful librarians. You’ll hear from us occasionally as we work on further projects. And next time things go all insurrection, we’ll be there, too, books in hand.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Cops, Donations, Friends of the Library, Jaime, Lawsuit

Media Round-Up Part III: Still #Winning

Annalisa Quinn at our beloved local NPR station WNYC mentions the city’s “almost apology…” read more…

Will Bunch on Philly.com sums it up perfectly in his headline “Books 1, Police State 0″ and breaks it down nicely for the haters “Even if you totally disagreed with the Occupy Wall Street movement (as I’ve noticed from past comments that one or two of you might), you must agree that authorities destroying so many books was creepy and smacked of what happens in totalitarian states. This is a small measure of justice, and in 2013 America we’ll take any justice we can get.” read more…

Shawna Gillen blogging at Policymic.com grudgingly predicts a precedent has been set here: “While the NYPD and Brookfield had a strong case to justify taking control of the park, they certainly took a cop out strategy to avoid even more fees. If this case sets any sort of precedence, protestors will have more opportunities to win settlements from New York City.” read more…

Business Insider‘s Michael Kelley reports quite accurately on the raid and destruction of the library “Around 1 a.m. on Nov. 15, 2011, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to evict protestors — some of whom had camped there for almost two months — from Zuccotti Park in New York City’s Financial District. The police threw away 5,554 books from the Occupy library and destroyed media equipment in addition to removing tents, tarps, and belongings.”…and even better, Business Insider refers to the movement, quite correctly, in the present tense “Occupy Wall Street is a movement, beginning on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square, that protests the role of Wall Street in the 2007 financial crisis and aims to resist the influence of major banks and multinational corporations.” read more…

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Media Round-Up Part II: OWS v. Bloomberg Settlement

The Occupy Wall Street library in Zuccot

Huffington Post featured a photo of the later days of the library, when a good part of the collection was protected by Fort Smith (maybe someone will correct Wikipedia on this now..) and uses the AP story to declare “New York City has agreed to pay Occupy Wall Street protesters more than $100,000 for property damaged or lost when police cleared out their encampment in a downtown Manhattan park in 2011, according to court documents signed on Tuesday.” read more…

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The Daily News chose to show off Steve’s smiling face and sounds surprised that a collection of graduate students, writers, artists, seasoned activists and librarians was able to work with a skilled civil rights attorney to win this case… as they report “Remember the anti-authority message of Occupy Wall Street? Remember the backlash over its vague goals and nebulous methods? Surprise! Occupy Wall Street (OWS) just struck a sizeable victory, and it came by working within the system.” read more…

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The Voice of Russia (American Edition) covers the story and connects it, unlike most of the other press, to bank bailouts! Follow the link to listen to the story: “The settlement has returned attention to the issue of bailouts, a central theme of Occupy Wall Street and a central theme of similar protests in Russia, where $25 billion was spent to bail out the financial sector and another $10 billion was spent to bail out the small business industry, said Dmitry Babich, a Voice of Russia political commentator.” read more…and listen here…

Protest-group-settles-suit-for-lost-books

UPI chose a photo for their story that doesn’t fit their description of the occupation as a “sit-in” nonetheless, they report “New York City and a property owner have agreed to pay the Occupy Wall Street movement for books and property destroyed during a sit-in by the group in 2011.” read more…

ows-v-bloomberg-full-text

Galleycat uses a photo of Stephen’s awesome sign that he made while trying to protect the library from being seized by the city. read more…

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This opinion piece on Gather gets at least, and perhaps only, one thing right when they refer to the Occupy movement as “radical” and “anti-capitalist.” The rest of it distorts the facts or just makes things up such as “The police even stored the books for pick-up.” Well…. actually the books that weren’t destroyed were sent to a sanitation garage, not held by the police, and the tweet from the mayor’s office was nothing more than a PR stunt because they were losing the image game in the press. This article also ignores the fact that Bloomberg’s office did not preserve any books or make them available (although they lied on twitter and said they had), because most of them had been thrown away or destroyed – as the city clearly admits in the settlement. read more….(although it’s really not worth reading)

NYPD-Occupy-Raid-Settlement

The Inquisitr, whatever that is, reports quite correctly that it was the NYPD (under Bloomberg’s command) who cost the city $366,000 in this case, writing “The NYPD’s raid on Occupy Wall Street in 2011 will cost the city $366,700. The raid was launched on November 15, 2011 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the police to evict protesters at Zuccotti Park.” read more…

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msn.com mentions the police brutality charges brought by journalists who were stopped from covering the violent eviction writing “Occupy Wall Street hasn’t scaled the same heights of publicity it had in 2011, but at least one NYC organization is still feeling heat from the group. That would be the NYPD, whose (some would say heavy-handed) November 2011 raid on the group’s Zuccotti Park encampment is going to cost them $366,700 in settlement money, according to a recent court ruling. That figure covers the destruction of books, computer equipment and bicycle-powered generators the group was using. What of the brutality charges levied against the NYPD by journalists arrested while trying to cover the raid? That’s covered in a separate lawsuit. So, $366K for one raid — was it worth it?” read more….

occupy-wall-street_top

And finally, Maclean’s uses the prototypical chanting protester image, but quotes Jaime’s blog post! “Our court case against New York City’s various officials and agencies is over!,” the People’s Library wrote on its website Tuesday. “The city has settled with us.” read more…

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Jaime, Michael, Stephen, Steve S.

OWS v. Bloomberg Full Text of Settlement

The settlement text:

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Media Round-Up: OWS v. Bloomberg Settlement

Although the People’s Library plans to hold a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday, April 10, at 11 AM, at 260 Madison Avenue) there is a great deal of attention on your library in the press tonight. So I wanted to round it up here and share how the story is shaping up in the media so far:

The New York Times opens with “As myriad court battles pitting the Occupy Wall Street movement against New York City agencies proceed, protesters claimed a victory on Tuesday, based not on how they were treated, but on how their books were mistreated.” read more…

The Atlantic reports “Fans of justice will be glad to hear that New York City will pay for all those books and all that media equipment that the police trashed when it famously raided the Occupy Wall Street camp on November 15, 2011.” read more…

Reuters reports “New York City has agreed to pay Occupy Wall Street protesters more than $100,000 for property damaged or lost when police cleared out their encampment in a downtown Manhattan park in 2011, according to court documents signed on Tuesday.” read more…

The Wall Street Journal uses the AP story and writes “There’s been a settlement in the lawsuit filed over the seizure of the Occupy Wall Street library at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.”read more…

The Village Voice says “In an agreement announced today, the City of New York will pay more than $365,000 to settle a lawsuit bought by people whose property was destroyed when the New York Police Department raided Zuccotti Park and evicted Occupy Wall Street on November 15, 2001.”read more…

Gawker writes that “Occupy Wall Street won a major legal battle earlier today when it agreed to a settlement from the city of New York that will pay the activist group over $230,000 in damages and legal fees. ” read more…

New York Magazine reports “New York City and Zuccotti Park owner Brookfield Properties have agreed to pay $366,700 to settle a lawsuit over the chaotic November 2011 police raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at the plaza. “read more…

 

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Free Speech, Lawsuit, Michael

Neil Smith, NYC Occupy History and the Political Geography of Revolt

I’ve wanted to mark the recent sudden and tragic death of radical geographer Neil Smith, but wasn’t sure quite how. Just now, as I was re-reading his book “The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City” I realized that I could do this in two ways. First by sharing some passages from the first chapter, which contains an account of the eviction of the Tompkins Square Park occupation in 1988 (and again in 1991) echoing the eviction from Liberty Plaza of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, and second by sharing a link to the entire book in PDF form, which is available free online from the National Technical University (NTUA) in Athens.

Neil Smith’s account of the occupation and eviction, as well as his analysis of urban class struggle are vital texts for occupiers to understand the history of resistance in the city. For those who haven’t read them, or aren’t familiar with the occupation of Tompkins Square, they will be eye-opening:

On the evening of August 6, 1988, a riot erupted along the edges of  Tompkins Square Park, a small green in New York City’s Lower East Side. It raged through the night with police on one side and a diverse mix of anti-gentrification protesters, punks, housing activists, park inhabitants, artists, Saturday night revelers and Lower East Side residents on the other. The battle followed the city’s attempt to enforce a 1:00 A.M. curfew in the Park on the pretext of clearing out the growing numbers of homeless people living or sleeping there, kids playing boom boxes late into the night, buyers and sellers of drugs using it for business. But many local residents and park users saw the action differently. The City was seeking to tame and domesticate the park to facilitate the already rampant gentrification on the Lower East Side . . .”Whose fucking park? It’s our fucking park,” became the recurrent slogan . . .

. . . In fact it was a police riot that ignited the park on August 6, 1988. Clad in space-alien riot gear and concealing their badge numbers, the police forcibly evicted everyone from the park before midnight, then mounted repeated baton charges and “Cossacklike” rampages against demonstrators and locals along the park’s edge:

‘The cops seemed bizarrely out of control, levitating with some hatred I didn’t understand. They’d taken a relatively small protest and fanned it out over the neighborhood, inflaming hundreds of people who’d never gone near the park to begin with. They’d called in a chopper. And they would eventually call 450 officers… The policemen were radiating hysteria . . .’ (Carr 1988:10)

. . .In the days following the riot, the protesters quickly adopted a much more ambitious political geography of revolt. Their slogan became “Tompkins Square everywhere” as they taunted the police and celebrated their liberation of the park. Mayor Edward Koch, meanwhile, took to describing Tompkins Square Park as a “cesspool” and blamed the riot on “anarchists.” Defending his police clients, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association enthusiastically elaborated: “social parasites, druggies, skinheads and communists” –an “insipid conglomeration of human misfits” –were the cause of the riot, he said. . .

Smith, N. 1996. The New Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the Revanchist City. Routledge.

First photo from Ángel Franco of The New York Times. Additional images are from Q. Sakamaki‘s book Tompkins Square Park.

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Michael, Privatization, Public/Private Parks, Reference, Scholarship

Lawsuit Update

Whoops!

So, we here at the Library have been sitting on this for a while, but the cat’s out of the bag now, thanks to the Village Voice.  In short, the city and Brookfield (owners of Zuccotti/Liberty) are pointing fingers and loudly yelling, “nuhuh!”

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Announcements, Brookfield, Jaime, Lawsuit, LOL, Public/Private Parks