Category Archives: Public/Private Parks

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.

Leave a comment

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!”

1 Comment

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

The People’s Library summering on Governor’s Island

This summer the People’s Library has partnered with Superfront and artist collective DADDY in a project called the Library of Immediacy. Superfront challenged designers to create a semi-outdoor structure for our library within a set of strict parameters in a two-hour charrette that took place on June 10, 2012.

One of the aims of the project is to explore the notion of the library: to create and promote engagement, prompt collaboration and participation within a temporary public space–some of what we at the People’s Library do best! The project will serve as an evolving art installation, a functioning library and a welcoming gathering place.

Here are details about the winning design. The structure is currently being built for us on Governor’s Island–we plan to move a portion of the collection in to the space in the next few weeks.

The library will be open on Governor’s Island weekends from July 21st through September 23rd. Check back here for details about library programming and info on the opening party.

Directions and Ferry schedules here.

7 Comments

Filed under Announcements, Art, Betsy, Education, Ephemera, Friends of the Library, Literature, Party time!, Public/Private Parks

so much meetings in the world

Today, the library working group held not one, but two different meetings. Here are some notes from the 2nd meeting that took place in the café of the Barnes & Noble at Union Square at 6pm.

Library storage space
Top of the agenda was getting the library collection out of SIS before the end of the month. Folks from the first meeting at Carmine secured a storage space for the books. A detailed list of rules and regulations (from the storage company) for the unit will be sent out to working group members & interested parties on the email lists. The space has 24-hour access and is intended for storage of the library collection. There are two sets of keys and the group consensed that the keys will remain with Zachary and James.

Moving books
Monday at 5:30 we will meet at SIS to move the evidence books to the agreed upon safe location. On Wednesday we will meet at 11 am to move the rest of the collection from SIS to the storage facility. Come help us move stuff! Cars especially welcome. Rumor has it one of our favorite Canadians is going to be in town–maybe he’ll make an appearance? We love you Sean!!

 

 

 

 


 

May Day
There’s a lot going on for May Day. We will be setting the library up in Bryant Park in the morning, Madison Square Park later in the day and doing other exciting things that we aren’t going to be discussing on this website. Want to know more? We’ll be having another meeting next Sunday after the Town Square pop-up at Union Square. We’ll meet at 6 pm near Gandhi, weather permitting.

 

1 Comment

Filed under #OWSBookmobile, Meeting Minutes, Public/Private Parks, Working Group Meeting

OWS In Solidary with the Shutting Down of West Coast Ports + Police Brutality

On 12/12/2011 at the Winter Garden Atrium, a “public” space inside the World Financial Center along West St. in Downtown New York; Occupy Wall Street Demonstrators enjoyed a day of action in solidarity with the shutting down of West Coast Ports. The merry-makers danced in a circle in the winter garden, as they danced arm-in-arm they chanted, “All Day! All Week! Occupy Wall Street” and “Occupy! Shut it down! New York is a People’s Town!” Demonstrators banged drums and waved umbrellas overhead as they celebrated their free human spirits. And true to form, the NYPD just couldn’t bear to see such a wonderful band of merry makers and came to shut them down with violent force.

Part 2: Show’s the wrath of NYPD… Watch as peaceful demonstrators are arrested and forced out of their demonstration. NYPD and Homeland Security were behind the forceful end of this demonstration. It’s appalling to think that in the United States of America in 2011 such force is used against people demonstrating their given right of FREE SPEECH. A demonstrator overheard one officer announce to another, “It’s time to chain ‘em up!” And an African-American Officer called an African-American demonstrator a “nigger”. Meanwhile, the United States of America is enforcing wars across the globe.

So tell me? Who’s the bull(y)?

The next day, 12/13/2011, a group of us (extremely elated by the daring and beautiful shut down of West Coast Ports) met for a day of action to honor our West Coast family. The NYPD were pissed to see us in our streets again. We went to Wall Street – Our Street and engaged in a day of “practice”… we chanted “this is just practice” as we marched onto Wall St – Our St to hold a G.A. and “practice” demonstrating. We danced up and down Wall St – Our St and we sung songs of protest and we threw up up-sparkles and we giggled and we ran full speed at barricades stopping just before we collided into the metal we’ve grown so familiar with, we chanted “GET THOSE ANIMALS OFF THOSE HORSES” at the cops on horseback and we basked in the radiate glow of one another… it was fun!

Photo is of us holding a moment of silence on behalf of all those that have suffered police brutality.

We played “Red Rover” on Wall St – Our St as it’s an American classic and demonstrates the power of locking arms, an important tactic demonstrators often use when engaged with police brutality.

After awhile on Wall St – Our St we decided to go to 1 Police Plaza to welcome our family members that had been arrested at the previous days action. As we hit Broadway, the cops showed up on motorcyles… At every march I’ve been on, I’ve been hit by police officers on motorcycles. I don’t know who raised these jerks, but NYPD motorcycle cops believe it’s okay to hit people with their motorcycles…

As they chased us up Broadway our group began to run… and we ran faster and faster…

The cops chased us into City Hall Park… They followed us on their motorcycles as we ran into City Hall Park…. Please keep in mind, we are a group of twenty people that were walking up the street. The only thing that separates us from anyone else is that we’ve been targeted because we are loud about our politics. Besides being a bit noisy, we were doing nothing illegal. The park was full of unaware bystanders. NYPD is extremely lucky they didn’t sideswipe a kid… I watched in shock as they sped through the park….

And was even more dumbfounded when they sped out of the park and up the sidewalk… an old man shouted, “Are there terrorists? I just see kids! What in the hell are they doing?!”

Eventually the cops jumped off bikes and tackled two demonstrators. Both were beat up pretty badly. They threw them to the ground and punched them, slammed them into the concrete.

Other officers created a “human wall” in an attempt to block press and all photographs of their brutality. The use of a “human wall” is becoming an increasingly common tactic. Expect to see it whenever NYPD is enacting police brutality. It’s so people cant take photos. These aren’t police officers these are abusive thugs that must be dis-empowered

As the violence winds down, the demonstrators scattered… Five police vans, a group of police cars, and an army of officers came seemingly out of nowhere and scour the streets, seemingly searching for specific members of the group of demonstrators. Notice the zip-ties officers wear on their belts. It’s so they can quickly and more-often-than-not very painfully arrest demonstrators.

This is a photo of one of the two people that were jumped by NYPD. The other demonstrator was arrested. She wasn’t arrested. But she received a concussion.

Leave a comment

Filed under Direct Action, Public/Private Parks, Solidarity

earlier this morning

 

Earlier this morning (around 7am?) the police very briefly opened the barricades in one section at the north of the park.

 

 
A few of us made our way back and began to settle in. We only had a few minutes before they announced that they were re-sealing the barricades.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Betsy, Brookfield, Ephemera, Public/Private Parks

New “Rules”

Here are the new “rules” posted at Liberty Plaza. So far, there are reports of Police stopping occupiers from standing on higher-than-ground surfaces in the park, police preventing food delivery from coming into the park, police stopping musicians from bringing in instruments and police searching people who enter the park. My take: this would appear to be very much like the protest pens that were a popular tool of the G.W. Bush administration and it would seem to violate the agreement that was made to grant Brookfield that extra height on their building. Perhaps they would be willing to lob off a few floors? Or, return the park to the free and open space for public use that it has always been.

Either way, we don’t ask permission to occupy.

3 Comments

Filed under Brookfield, Michael, Public/Private Parks