Daily Archives: November 23, 2011

Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of Over 3,000 Books

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          CONTACT: press@occupywallst.org

For this event: Michael Oman-Reagan owspeopleslibrary@gmail.com

Occupy Wall St. Librarians Demand Accountability from Bloomberg for Destruction of Thousands of Books and NYers’ Rights to Free Expression

Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of over 3,000 Books by Raid

The People’s Library was not only forcibly removed from Liberty Square in the early hours of November 15th and destroyed but – since the raid – has been harassed and prevented from operating in the park by the Bloomberg Administration. Only about 1,300 books – a third of the stock – were returned to them, they said, and around a third of those were damaged beyond repair. Only about 800 are still usable. About 3,000 books are still unaccounted for. Photos of the books are available here http://bit.ly/u4QeTP

Civil Rights lawyer, Norman Siegel, opened today’s press conference, at a table of damaged books, with his statement articulating the demands of the OWS Librarians: “The Bloomberg Administration needs to replace every book missing or damaged. Together about 3,161 books. We have the titles and authors. The Bloomberg Administration needs to acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again. We need a space to recreate the people’s library.”

Hawa Allan, a Fellow of Columbia Law School, added, “the People’s Library represents the town hall spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement.” Referring to the piles of destroyed books on the table, she also noted “This display is a chilling image of the attempt to destroy free expression.”

13 Librarians from the People’s Library were in attendance, and several spoke, talking about the important role the library played in the movement, as well as their own experiences of the raid and the aftermath. In response to questions from the press, the librarians stressed that their request is not about money, but rather about accountability and that they are asking the Bloomberg Administration to replace the books they destroyed, not write a check.

People’s Librarian, Betsy Fagin, stated, “What’s important isn’t just the cost of the books that were destroyed . . . The People’s Library was built entirely of generosity, of community spirit, of love.” Michele Hardesty described her visit to retrieve some of the seized books, “It was clear from what we saw at the sanitation garage that our books—the community’s books, these donated books—were treated as trash.”

People’s Librarian Danny Norton called the destruction of the library by the Bloomberg Administration a “crusade to destroy a conversation” and People’s Librarian Frances Mercanti-Anthony stated, “You can take our books. You can take our park. But you can’t take our spirit. And we’re not going anywhere.” In closing, Norman Siegel was asked about any planned legal action against the Bloomberg Administration, and he responded that he wasn’t going to answer any hypothetical questions, but said “in the words of Clint Eastwood, make my day.”

Coverage in the Guardian (UK) http://bit.ly/vMOCAD, New York Times http://nyti.ms/ugzNAi, Washington Post http://wapo.st/tF7Ptg, and Associated Press http://on.wsj.com/tnVm1m

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Filed under 11/15 Eviction, Media

People’s Library Demands Accountability from the Bloomberg Administration

The People’s Library: CALL TO ACTION

Contact Mayor Bloomberg and ask him to respond to our three demands: 1. Replace every missing/damaged book, 2. Acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again, 3. A space to recreate the library. You can call 311 or 212-639-9675 from outside NYC, or email him here: www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Today’s Press Conference

The People’s Library called on the Bloomberg Administration to accept responsibility for the destruction of the library today in a press conference with civil rights attorney Norman Seigel, Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild, and Hawa Allan a Fellow at Columbia Law School. The Library is calling on the Bloomberg Administration to replace the both the library and the 80% of the books that were destroyed.

Seated alongside the librarians at a table covered in books damaged during the raid, Seigel said:

“The Bloomberg Administration needs to replace every book missing or damaged — not usable. Together about 3,161 books. We have the titles and authors.
The Bloomberg Administration needs to acknowledge that a wrong was committed and that this can never happen again.
We need a space to recreate the people’s library.”

Official Press Release will follow.

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Filed under Announcements