Occupy Wall Street is the kind of thing that you had to have been there to understand. Even two years later, the memories of the occupation still bring up very strong feelings within me. I spent a night in the park, although I did not sleep, and I witnessed many acts of bravery as well as the more despicable aspects of human nature. There is much warranted criticism at the tactics of the occupation, but to those who were there it opened up many different doors to various possibilities, and lent itself to an overall feeling that it was possible to change the course of human history.
I remember being in the beginning throes of sleep when someone announced that the police were moving in to take down a medical tent. I went over to that area to see what was going on, and lines of cops were inching forward. The protesters had linked arms in a protective circle around the tent. It looked like things were going to take a turn for the worst, when Jesse Jackson showed up, attempted to negotiate with the police, and then linked arms with the occupiers.
After that I had a new found respect for Jesse Jackson because it didn’t make the news and wasn’t done for publicity. He had helped defuse a potentially volatile situation for reasons that I’m still not sure of. I’m unclear as to how he knew something was going on. Someone suggested that he might have a police radio, but I really have no idea.
That was the only night I spent in Liberty Square before it was shut down by the NYPD. After that, I went to Washington D.C. For Occupy Congress and then May Day where Occupy finally lost its momentum and died helped along—of course—by the gestapo tactics of our nations police force. To be fair to the police though, it wasn’t their decision to evict the camps but must have came from high up within the government. I don’t hate the police, but I do hold them responsible when they do the wrong thing or support it through inaction.
On Occupy’s second anniversary, hundreds of people were arrested. I witnessed many arrests including two of my friends who were with me that day. The arrests appeared random at the time, but thanks to a video released recently, arrests were made in a calculated, strategic way. But the most defining moment of my time with Occupy was when during the anniversary, I witnessed a cop chasing after a young protester who couldn’t have been older than 15 and attempting to arrest him. Someone from the crowd jumped on the cop and started beating the cop before he was apprehended. The younger protester got away.
This was an interesting moment because I had never seen anyone in Occupy attempt to fight back against the police before. Occupy is supposed to be a non-violent movement, but I noticed that the police officer who was being hit froze up and so did the other one who was nearby. It doesn’t take much effort to learn from that scenario that if protesters were to fight back in a militant way against police, it could lead to complications in terms of the governments ability to crush dissent. That does not mean I advocate violence but violence is inevitable when peaceful protest is destroyed.
Occupy Wall Street may not be around anymore, but it will always have a place in my heart. I hope the next movement does not use consensus.