The following photographs were taken on November 8 at Zuccotti Park and on November 17 at Foley Square. The Zuccotti Park images record the days before the tents were removed by the police on the orders of Mayor Bloomberg. They offer insights as to how the park was transformed once it was filled with tents. The Foley Square images document about three-and-a-half hours, beginning ca. 4:00 pm, as people began to gather for what eventually would be a march across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Zuccotti Park, Nov. 8
|Zuccotti Park: Edwin|
|Zuccotti Park: Debora|
|Zuccotti Park: Faith|
|Zuccotti Park: Restaurant Chefs|
|Zuccotti Park: The Goddess|
|Zuccotti Park: Michael Cardacino (on left)|
Then, someone painted and hung a large banner titled The Goddess, which appears to be inspired by certain early Renaissance images of the Virgin Mary–in particular aspects of the Maesta and the Madonna of Mercy. Another artist, Michael Cardacino displays a wonderful piece that visually and powerfully portrays the greed of the 1%. Creativity and commitment dominate in every corner of this tiny plot off Broadway. Zuccotti Park has truly become an uplifting place, and, over my visits, I see more and more tourists who now consider it a must place to visit.For anyone curious about how this Zuccotti Park community operates, watch this 24-minute InFocus video by Danny Schechter.
|Zuccotti Park: Joseph|
|Zuccotti Park: Tents|
|Zuccotti Park: Tents|
The tents were removed in the early hours of Tuesday, November 15, after which Zuccotti Park was cleared. Once tents, tarps, the library and everything else were carted away, the park was cleaned and the occupiers were allowed to return.
|Zuccotti Park: Sustainability Sector|
Foley Square, Nov. 17
|Foley Square: View south on Lafayette St. ca. 4:00 pm|
|Foley Square: You Cannot Evict an Idea|
The park in the lower photograph, with trees and the lone individual carrying a sign, is actually called Thomas Paine Park. Foley Square can be seen in the distance, but the two are contiguous and essentially merge into one.
|Foley Square: Triumph of the Human Spirit|
|Foley Square: Parade Marshalls Gathering|
|Foley square: Parade Marshalls, SEIU members|
SEIU President, Mary Kay Henry, was arrested as she stepped onto the Brooklyn Bridge in what I have heard was part of a symbolic, prearranged agreement to arrest the first 99 people to enter onto the bridge. She has said that “this is about our members being united in the belief that things are broken in this country, and we need to come together in numbers to help fix it. That means joining forces with students, neighbors, the unemployed, and working people in the encampments. This is an act of solidarity with the 99% movement.”
|Foley Square: Poetry Assembly|
|Foley square: Sandra|
|Foley Square: Jacqueline|
|Foley Square: Matthew|
|Foley Square: Gwen|
|Foley Square: Adrienne|
|Foley Square: This Is So Not Over|
|Foley Square: Gil & Devon|
|Foley Square: Pierre & Elise|
|Foley Square: Casey & Bill|
Pierre & Elise remind us of the insanity of our Supreme Court decision, giving corporations the same rights as people, while also reminding us of an event that recently occurred at the APEC world leaders meeting in Honolulu in the sign that reads, “Occupy with Aloha.”
This is a reference to the musical entertainer who performed at the APEC formal dinner, Hawaiian slack guitarist Makana. He very innocently sang subversive songs before our world leaders, including a new one with lyrics such as these: “You enforce your monopolies with guns/ While sacrificing our daughters and sons/ But certain things belong to everyone/ Your thievery has left the people none.” He then opened his suit jacket to display a tee shirt that read, “Occupy with Aloha.”
Casey & Bill make a plea to save our middle class, which is disappearing with the increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth in our country. They also point out the fact that corruption has not only permeated the operations of Wall Street bankers, but also our Congress. Of course, these two issues are related. The income of middle class families has dropped by 21% while, as a CBO study released in October reveals, the top 1% of earners enjoyed an income growth of 275% between 1979 and 2007. In the meantime, the 1% and their corporate lobbyists have insured that most laws are written in their favor, and they often help members of Congress by writing the laws themselves.
|Foley Square: Christian|
|Foley Square: Lisa|
|Foley Square: Musician Solidarity Council|
I encountered a large group of musicians from local 802, the first of which was Lisa, a pianist from Manhattan. Her sign, “Musicians will not be Silent,” conveys the obvious fact that music is about sound and auditory experience. But when extended into the political sphere, the issue of silence reminds us of the dangers of complacency and remaining silent. This is one of the major tenets of holocaust teaching. It also is a constant among the major figures of social justice, whether Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King or Elie Wiesel, who stated, “to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”The blue sign in the lower photograph is taken from a speech Barack Obama gave on August 2, 2008: “When special interests put their thumb on the scale, and distort the free market, the people who compete by the rules come in last.” The Musicians Solidarity Council has participated in order to support the goals of OWS as well as “to defend the rights and livelihoods of all.”
|Foley Square: Quoting Martin Luther King|
Ignoring the wisdom of MLK, Congressional Republicans have been attempting to cut social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. Now that their latest ploy, the “supercommittee,” failed to come up with ways to pare $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, as they were charged, automatic spending cuts will kick in; these cuts are to be evenly divided between domestic (social) programs and defense. Of course, now Republicans like John McCain (R, AZ), Lindsey Graham (R, SC) and Buck McKeon (R, CA) are talking of reneging on any cuts to defense spending. No surprise here: most reasonable and clear-minded people are painfully aware that conservative Republicans began suffering a spiritual death more than a decade ago.
|Foley Square: 3 sections of a line of silent protesters sponsored by South Asia Solidarity and War Resisters|
On the topic of war spending, the most powerful statement came from a line-up of over twenty people. Standing in silence, mouths sealed by either an American flag sticker or a Chase bank sticker, they commanded attention while creating separation from the milling crowd. Each held a sign indicating the place and date of a different deployment of US armed troops around the world.
A shocking statistic in support of their statement is that, since 9/11, the United States has spent at least $4.4 trillion on military operations abroad.The War Resisters League has been active since 1923 and today is among the leading voices of the global anti-war movement. It allied with the South Asia Solidarity Initiative in mid-October of this year to participate in OWS actions. They call on the people of the world to resist empire, rebuild our world and recreate solidarity.
|Foley Square: United Auto Workers Union representatives|
|Foley Square: Schools Not Wars|
|Foley Square: CUNY representatives|
|Foley Square: Let’s Be Realists|
|Foley Square: Crowd Massing in Preparation of Marching to the Bridge|
|Foley Square: Crowd Begins Moving South Towards the Bridge|
|Foley Square: Death as Retirement Plan|
|Foley Square: Police Barrier & Mounted Police Reserves|
|Foley Square: Proud to be an American|
|Foley Square: Vox Clamantis In Tenebris|
|Foley Square: Make This Nation One Again|
I offer three final photographs of the day: A man wrapping himself in the flag–it’s just a wonderful photo; a cry from the darkness that all progressives and liberals hope will happen–will the candidate they supported three years ago finally pay attention to them and their needs?; and the hope of so many–that we can become a single, unified nation once more–that we become the 100%, not merely the 99%.To quote Cornel West’s article in the November, 2011 issue of The Occupied Wall Street Journal, “Our movement–leaderless and leaderful–is a soulful expression of a moral outrage at the ugly corporate greed that pushes our society and world to the brink of catastrophe….we intend to sustain our momentum…in order to create a better world through a deep democratic revolution.”
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