Occupy Wall Street: Where We At, In Three Acts

mcduh @questlove sayin he saw hundreds of riot cops on South St, Manhattan bout 1hr ago. #occupywallst@DiceyTroop are yall aware of anything?

DiceyTroop   @mcduh @questlove all quiet at the Park. What did you see questo? Maybe Batman stuff?

questlove   @OccupyWallStNYC if its shift change so be it. they always watch yall in the thousands like that?

OccupyWallStNYC   @questlove In the 1000s, no. @LamarEsq has some pics he says r of them doing drills near BK bridge. This what u saw?!/”¦

questlove    @OccupyWallStNYC if you say so. i assumed cops in line blocks from #ows meant sweep. my bad yall. camp away.

OccupyWallStNYC – ANNOUNCEMENT – #LibertySquare is BEING RAIDED NOW. #owsquestlove

questlove @OccupyWallStNYC wait. so i was right? #ows is being raided? told yall! tryna make me think i was crazy! i knew i saw what i saw.


On Tuesday morning, sometime around 1AM, riot police surrounded Zuccotti Park, forcing out demonstrators and tearing apart the small, yet thriving community that had been built up in the past two months. Many watched in horror, whether directly across the street from Zuccotti or from shaky livestream feeds further away, as the situation became more and more cloudy. Reports came in that there were bulldozers, an LRAD, and the closing of all subways stops in the financial district, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge and streets 4 blocks away from Zuccotti. Journalists were effectively banned as the media blackout began, and the NYPD threatened all press with loss of their NYPD press pass if they didn’t leave (if you lose your pass, you lose your job). 200 people were arrested, including city council member Ydanis Rodriguez, who was beaten and bleeding when he was taken into central booking. Alternet has a breakdown of other events that happened during the night, including the attempted takeover of a space on 6th and Canal, resulting in several more arrests.

“NYC authorities clearly feel #OWS eviction is just and reasonable. That’s why they are doing it at 2am and barring all press.” – George Zornick

“And so began the minutely planned, almost military-style operation to remove those who had been camping in downtown Manhattan for two months. Hundreds of officers were involved. The overnight hours of Monday into Tuesday were chosen because it was believed the park would be at its emptiest. The operation was kept secret from all but a few high-ranking officers, with others initially being told that they were embarking on an exercise.”  – Al Baker, Joseph Goldstein, NY Times

As it stands now, OWS has lost its petition both for a restraining order against the city and allowing them back into the park. This means: no tents, no structures, no evidence of “permanent” living, and limited access to the park, instituted by a 10PM curfew. Word has yet to come in on how OWS is responding, but one also has to wonder, what possessed the NYPD to add fuel to the fire only two days before one of the largest protests OWS has planned thus far?

Before all…this..happened, one of the people with whom I have had the privilege of speaking is Hena Ashraf, an activist involved in OWS. Hena is one of the many voices involved in the collective, In Front and Center: Critical Voices of the 99%, a group which is made up of  “people of color and allies who want to ensure that the voices, experiences and issues of the most oppressed and marginalized communities are in the front and center of this movement.” The group believes firmly in the idea that both solidarity and criticism go hand in hand, emphasizing less inclusivity, more equity, less reaction and more action. Hena had spoken to me previous to Tuesday night’s events,

From our conversation:

Persephone Magazine: How did you initially get involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement? 

Hena Ashraf: My first time at OWS was by accident. The day after Troy Davis was executed, an impromptu rally was held in Union Square, and the crowd decided to march and take the streets. I joined, and we ended up zig-zagging our way down to Occupy Wall Street. After that I kept showing up to OWS because I was curious, and wanted to listen and engage.

PM: Can you talk about why you created In Front and Center: Critical Voices in the 99%? What was the process of starting this site and what are its aims?

HA: We created the blog because we wanted a site where we could gather all of our writing and collect more writing from friends and allies, in order to showcase a framework that consists of solidarity with critique, in regards to the Occupy movement. We started off with posting the writing some of us had already done and pretty soon we got a large number of submissions.

PM: One of the central statements of In Front And Center is  “As participants of this occupation, we also believe that solidarity and criticism go together.” Can you talk about the challenges you have faced by trying to create anti-oppressive measures in a space that, while said to be anti-oppressive, can be the opposite?  Can you also talk about the positive measures that have come from this action?

HA: I am writing an article in regards to this that will be very in-depth, so for now I’ll write something short. The challenges in attempting to make Occupy Wall Street a more anti-oppressive space have been immense. That’s another reason why the blog was formed, was to have a space online where we can discuss the challenges and solutions in making these protests and encampments more anti-oppressive. Some of my friends have been involved in doing anti-oppression trainings, but it is hard to engage in a space where one can feel the power and privilege of others over you.

PM: What have been your own personal experiences at Zucotti park? What is your day-to-day life like?

HA: I’m someone who is curious, who shows up to listen, to engage, and speak up when necessary. I’m not there everyday nor do I stay there overnight; I believe for people who want to engage in the movement to do so in a healthy and sustainable manner, which is what I’ve been attempting to do for myself. I’ve been present at several working group meetings, marches, rallies, etc., usually just to gauge where the conversation is and where it’s going.

PM:How do we make movements like this sustainable? How does this keep going?

HA: I think that’s a question several thousand people are asking themselves around the country everyday. I can’t give one answer to that, I don’t think anyone can. I will say that the movement has grown exponentially very quickly, and that’s a massive strength right there. People have joined because they saw a space for themselves within it.

PM: In what ways can people support?

HA: People can support through donations, through sharing informed media about the movement, but I think the best way to support is just by showing up.

To find out more information, check out Hena’s site, as well as In Front and Center. Also check back as we will hopefully be interviewing more folks from In Front and Center, as well as OWS.

So now, many wait until November 17th, a mass international day of non-violent action that is taking place not only in New York, but in Portland, Ghent, and several cities in Germany and Spain.

The NYC schedule from OWS’s page (as well as other actions):

Shut Down Wall Street – 7:00 a.m.

Enough of this economy that exploits and divides us. It’s time we put an end to Wall Street’s reign of terror and begin building an economy that works for all. We will gather in Liberty Square at 7:00 a.m., before the ring of the Trading Floor Bell, to prepare to confront Wall Street with the stories of people on the frontlines of economic injustice. There, before the Stock Exchange, we will exchange stories rather than stocks.

Occupy The Subways – 3:00 p.m.

We will start by Occupying Our Blocks! Then throughout the five boroughs, we will gather at 16 central subway hubs and take our own stories to the trains, using the “People’s Mic”.

  • Bronx
    • Fordham Rd
    • 3rd Ave, 138th Street
    • 163rd and Southern Blvd
    • 161st and River – Yankee Stadium
  • Brooklyn
    • Broadway Junction
    • Borough Hall
    • 301 Grove Street
    • St Jose Patron Church,185 Suydam St, Bushwick
  • Queens
    • Jackson Heights/Roosevelt Ave.
    • Jamaica Center/Parsons/Archer
    • 92-10 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights
  • Manhattan
    • 125th St. A,B,C,D
    • Union Sq. (Mass student strike)
    • 23rd St and 8th Ave
  • Staten Island
    • St. George, Staten Island Ferry Terminal
    • 479 Port Richmond Avenue, Port Richmond
Take The Square – 5:00 p.m.

At 5 pm, tens of thousands of people will gather at Foley Square (just across from City Hall) in solidarity with laborers demanding jobs to rebuild this country’s infrastructure and economy. A gospel choir and a marching band will also be performing.

Afterwards we will march to our bridges. Let’s make it as musical a march as possible – bring your songs, your voice, your spirit! Our “Musical” on the bridge will culminate in a festival of light as we mark the two-month anniversary of the #occupy movement, and our commitment to shining light into our broken economic and political system.

Well y’all…. Here’s to Thursday.

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