The cold weather has arrived to tail Mayor Bloomberg’s midnight raid on the Zuccotti encampment. I haven’t visited the protest site since the day after the raid. Today, around 9:30am, I strolled by.
The cold, morning light revealed an empty park, completely surrounded by police barricades. As I neared it was unclear whether the three people standing just inside were protestors, beggars or guards. On closer inspection I concluded that there were two protesters, one with a sign, in debate with a passing messenger, the other standing nearby; and a third person skirting the line between protestor and beggar. His tin can was out to receive donations as he cradled a kitten in his jacket, his sign ambiguous.
I walked around the barrier perimeter, wondering if there was an entrance, wondering how those protestors had gotten within. As I rounded the corner I noticed the protest proper: a group of about 10 men lurking over an empty carton that one must assume once contained breakfast. The park was clean and damp around them and the cold kept them moving. I continued around, finally locating a small aperture through the barricades, lorded over by a guard in flourescent vest and 3 bored cops. The side streets buzzed with police cars, and at a safe distance from the site a group of around 30 police were massed near a paddy wagon. One can only assume they were there just in case the protest returned.
It seems the protest site is dead, killed by Michael Bloomberg’s sweep under cover of darkness (media and otherwise). His covert action invigorated the protest for a day or two but then succeeded in its purpose. Without a physical encampment, and with the coming of the cold, fewer protestors are occupying Wall Street. In no way, do I presume that the movement itself has waned. Rather, it has moved to other sites and other phases of its cycle. I, for one, still carry the torch.
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