Yesterday was Black Friday and I decided to take the kids to New York City for a whirlwind tour of Manhattan starting at the occupy Wall Street site. I hadn't been there since the police forcibly evicted everyone at 1 AM a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to see what had changed. Both Ben and Rebecca wanted to bring a friend along so the five of us drove to Bridgeport, got on the train to Grand Central Station, and then the number four subway to Wall Street.
I was disappointed by what I saw when we got there. Whereas before there were several thousand people moving about freely and sharing their ideas, the park was now completely surrounded by police barricades with just one entry point and no more than 200 people or so within the park. Many have said, "that's okay, it's time to move on to the next phase. It's time to occupy everywhere." I disagree. In the battle, and this is a huge, unending, protracted battle, symbols are extremely important, and a Freedom Plaza with thousands of people needing, beating drums, exchanging ideas, making buttons, holding up signs, etc. was a very important symbol that inspired people all over the country and all over the world to occupy public spaces and make the constant statement that corporations, whose already excessive power and wealth continue to grow, have corrupted our political system and taken democratic control of our government away from us. I see a Freedom Plaza packed with demonstrators stay in night as the fire on the beach in "Lord of the Flies", something to be maintained both as a symbol of the desire for rescue, and a tool of rescue itself. I fear that if we let the fire go out the movement will dissipate.
Visual media, a.k.a. television news, is the dominant source of information for the masses. Not that there was a lot of coverage to begin with, but with a mostly empty Freedom Plaza there will be no further coverage by the news outlets that the great majority of Americans watch. The occupy movement no longer occupies Freedom Plaza. It now merely visits a space that is under the complete control of the police and a private security firm who now control access to the park and prohibit entry to anyone carrying any item that they have deemed unauthorized. It is time to relight the fire as a symbol and a tool for getting the message of the occupy movement, or I should say messages, out to the public who is woefully misinformed. It is time to respond to the systematic, coordinated tactics of the establishment who in city after city have evicted the occupy movement from the public space only to readmit it as an ineffective shell of its previous self.