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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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5 responses to “Packed Press Conference Documents Ruins of Over 3,000 Books”
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Sincerely, kudos on getting media attention on this matter into hundreds of sources. The articles are, I’m sure you’ll admit, entirely slanted your way.
Should there be any journalists interested in an alternative viewpoint necessary for journalism instead of ad copy, please see “Occupied ALA Ignored Cuban Librarians; OWSLibrary is Not a Real Library and People Knew It Would Be Removed” http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2011/11/occupied-ala-ignored-cuban-librarians.html
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I’ve posted the Guardian story with additional information including video of the conference here on Reddit: http://tinyurl.com/peopleslibraryconference . Please vote it up.