As you probably know, Liberty Plaza was raided last night. An hour before the park was raided my friend Jack Nemo, an older man, let me know a Community Affairs Officer of the same age had told him and an older woman, Kathie, that they should take notice of all the cops, press, and sanitation trucks that had taken to the nearby area. Before leaving, the cop ominously warned, “Normandy”. Jack Nemo then relayed the information to me and I relayed the warning, but was met with much skepticism as we’ve heard the cops would raid us just about every night. And then the lights came on, the cops paraded to the edge of the steps in full riot gear and a sound canon fired, announcing our peaceful time protesting in the park for nearly two months had come to a screeching halt. Campers across the park quickly climbed out of their tents screaming, “WAKE UP THE POLICE ARE HERE!” I ran into the library and let the handful of people sleeping in there know what was happening, then unlocked and pulled the OWS POETRY ANTHOLOGY from the shelves and strapped them to my body, then climbed atop a table in the park and read poems from the anthology. Immediately, the people of Liberty Plaza launched into action, a group of about a hundred protesters took to the kitchen and U-Locked/tied themselves down. After reading the third poem, the cops began to enter the park and I realized that I would most likely lose all of my possessions so I quickly grabbed a bag of my personal stuff, ran into the library and dumped a bunch of boxes of books onto the floor to make the cleaning up more difficult for the cops then ran my personal stuff and a few amazing books to a friends house around the corner. I naively thought I could get my stuff to my friends house and then re-enter the park but could only get to the corner of Liberty and Broadway after prepping myself for a long night.
Once on the corner I immediately launched into action and again started reading from the OWS POETRY ANTHOLOGY. Someone in the crowd said the cops wouldn’t respond to the poems but I countered, it’s not about the cops, it’s about making the voices of all those that have sent poems to the anthology heard. A few cops then got in my face and began pushing the crowd I was in up Broadway. I kept reading poems as the waved batons in our faces, and fellow protesters cried as we realized they were forcing all witnesses away from the park. The further we were pushed away, it seemed the louder the park became as the police became increasingly brutal. We watched in horror as the police entered the park swinging billy-clubs and slashing tents, similar to how police in Oakland brutally assaulted the protesters that had taken Oscar Grant Plaza.
A few moments later a man that had been tear gassed on the sidewalk ran in our direction and the group I was with took him to our friends place on Maiden Lane. I looked on in horror as his bloodshot eyes/face/body was directed into her apartment then into her shower. It reminded me of something that would happen in war-torn Eastern European country in the early nineties… I couldn’t believe this was happening in New York City. Simultaneously, we realized the library was being destroyed. Helplessly we watched the news as it showed clips of the entire park being scooped up and thrown into trash trucks. It’s appalling to think that a city with over 40,000 homeless, would allow for a park full of great resources, such as tents, tarps, sleeping bags, clothing, food, electronics, etc. to be thrown into the garbage. And I must reiterate, the police explained upon entering the park that all materials in the park would be available to be picked up later at a police location and the park was being evacuated because it was unsanitary and unsafe for humans to inhabit. The NYPD lied again!
Again I hit the streets, this time more librarians and fellow protesters had made it to the area and I went to CVS and picked up anti-acid to aid people that had been teargassed. I ran through the streets reading poems and looking out for wounded. Along the way, a main figure from the finance working group tapped me on the shoulder and demanded I join him on a secret mission, basically he told me that he had a very very large sum of cash in his backpack and needed to safely transport it several blocks away to get it into the hands of OWS lawyers. Michael, a fellow OWS occupier and poet joined us! We were given a number to call in case he was taken and he explained he would pass off the backpack to us so we could continue to run it to the lawyers. Luckily we were able to run it there undeterred. After safely moving the money, Michael and I landed in front of Trinity Church where I read poems to the 40 or so cops present for a half hour, finally screaming at them, “STAND ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY! GO INTO THE PARK AND ARREST YOUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN BLUE THAT ARE TEAR GASSING AND BRUTALLY ASSAULTING PEACEFUL PROTESTERS. WAKE UP! STAND ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY. DO NOT STAND FOR THIS BRUTALITY! BE REVOLUTIONARY!” Surprisingly, a few of the cops seemed to really respond and their eyes twinkled as they crept up closer to me… then Victoria, a key figure in the OWS movement, approached us and explained that the entire park had been tear gassed and that nothing was left. With this, I ran back around and down side streets to look for possibly wounded people. Surprisingly, everyone seemed okay. Later I learned that everyone that had been tear gassed had been arrested. We still do not know in what condition they are as they haven’t been heard from.
I then made my way to Foley square to hear the G.A. that had formed, hung out there for an hour, ate some food, discussed the craziness that was the night with folks and then went back to Zuccotti Park around 8am to see what it looked like. I heard rumors that bulldozers had run over the entire park, trees and all, luckily they were just rumors… HOWEVER, everything we brought to the park is gone. The beautiful library is gone. Our collection of 5,000 books is gone. Our tent that was donated is gone. All the work we’ve put into making it is gone. I’ve spent the last month and a half there. Currently I’m homeless so I’ve been completely dependent on the community that has sprung up there. I don’t know what is next and I don’t know how these next few steps will play out, however, I know that the one thing no amount of cleaning and bullying and policing can destroy is the tenacity of the human spirit. WE WILL OVERCOME!
I am so incredibly tired. I hope this account reads somewhat okay. I love you and will hopefully be getting you more books soon! Please send love poems to the OWS Poetry Anthology! We need your spirits to keep our spirits ablaze!