A Sunday Afternoon Occupying Wall Street

“There are truly difficult questions that confront us. We know what we do not want. But what do we want? What social organization can replace capitalism? What type of new leaders do we want?” Slavoj Zizek addressing the Occupy Wall St. gathering on Oct. 9

I drove into New York City on Sunday with two women well experienced in the art of protesting, occupying, demonstrating and being arrested. Both of these grandmothers reminisced about their 30 years of Peace Action work and told tales of what they had seen in the trenches. We were headed downtown to the Occupy Wall Street gathering in Liberty Square. We had plenty of time to discuss all the possibilities of what might happen at the site, making sure to take along bail and donation money, plus phone numbers of friends who might need to come to our assistance. It was a beautiful sunny day, the city was teeming with people and the general mood of my companions was festive.

When we arrived to Liberty Park the first thing that struck me was how small an area the park covered, the second thing was that there were people, sleeping bags and cameras everywhere. There were also large numbers of police officers walking the area in groups of four; and when you looked up towards the tree tops there was the black windowed NYPD tower looking down on you. I could see the protesters inside the park and then there were the tourists circling the area snapping off picture after picture. On the edge of the park were the artists silk screening newly purchased “I Heart NY” T-shirt’s with the words, Occupy Wall St.

I was immediately struck with how important it was to be here, to see, smell and hear what was taking place. Even the most trusted journalists could not convey the experience of being present to this event. I had to see it for myself, otherwise it becomes another story coming from a virtual world with opinions, rhetoric and descriptions by writers who may never have stepped foot in Liberty Park. I am one of the 99% and I needed to know who was making a stand for me.

Once I settled into the crowd I could see how the park had been organized to accommodate a make shift kitchen, a media center, a First Aid area, a library of books along the wall, and a place to dance and raise a fist or two. It looked like a big sleep over party, but it is, in reality, dead serious and the people here have put their lives and possibly all our futures on the line.

Wherever I turned there were people of all nationalities and ages, (yes, babies and children too), looking, discussing, eating, sleeping and when the drums started howling they began to dance and chant, “Occupy, occupy, occupy.” On and on it went, round and round the park we went, moving in and out again, feeling ever the tourist we had not meant to become. I overheard one well-dressed young woman tell her boyfriend that she didn’t want to go into the crowded park. “But why?” he said. “It is the reason we traveled all this way, to be a part of what it happening.”

At one point my traveling companion gave a big sigh and told me how jealous she was that she could not stay and occupy the park by living and sleeping here. She took a deep breath and exhaled the pleasure of being part of another action meant to elicit change in our government. She had just returned from Washington D.C. where she had marched with a thousand other people to demand an end to the war in the Middle East. In the current web of protests and demonstrations they are all connected and interwoven; end the war, protect our food supply, take care of the 99%. And the slogans, signs and quotes were everywhere in Liberty Park, written on posters, cardboard and T-shirts.

We the 99%
Tax Wall Street Transactions, Heal America
I’m with You, Be with Me, Open Your Eyes, Imagine and See
Trickle down BS
2010= thousands of teachers jobs, 2011=?

I heard someone compare the occupation to the Vietnam war protests, but they are not the same. This is the hopelessness of a people come together because we do not know what else to do. Our hands have been tied, our rights weakened, our jobs out sourced, our homes confiscated and our resources plundered. As I see it there are no demands or agendas because there is only this collective helplessness that has assembled a rag tag army that will not step down in the face of a corrupt authority. It takes courage and patience to continue, especially not knowing when you might be attacked. On October 5 the NYPD pepper sprayed the crowd and arrested 20 demonstrators, and in the dead of night on October 10 the Boston police stormed the tent city of Occupy Boston and arrested 100 people.

When I returned home from NYC I fell asleep thinking about the young women and men sleeping in the open on a cold October night, dreaming of a hot shower and a warm meal, and determined to go the distance. If you decide to make the trip to Liberty Park or to an Occupy Wall Street in your own area, bring food to share and take the time to listen to each other, and you will hear what is in your own heart.


Rommi S.
Rommi S.5 years ago

Occupy Wall Street in Toronto, Canada

Helen K.
Helen K.5 years ago

Well, I am certainly one of the 99%. Some of these comments reduce me to tears. I am too old now to sleep outside on the grass (or parking lot) but I will go to my local "occupy" during the day. Support these people. A revolution is our only hope, I have thought this for a year but never thought we could do it - let's keep it going.

Oh, and @Dolores M - there will be no "healthy living" for at least 99% of us if we don't get involved in the politics.

Dianne Prang
Dianne Prang5 years ago

Roger B: Aren't you ther critical one.... wow, what a nasty comment you made here
Obviously you have no idea what is going on with these demonstrations. How forutunate your life must be.

Michael C.
Michael C.5 years ago

Hopefully, these demonstrations will continue to spread across the US, and continue on, to become America's "Arab Spring." Our American Autumn.

We are well past our time for renewal, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, "change is our right, our responsibility."

People, lets take America back from the 1%, they are trading on your future. These people are traitors to the true American way. Let us see heads roll.

The question is, since the 1% didn't respect the 99% yesterday, what efforts will be needed for us to call upon. Can we get there with non-violence, god knows the 1% doesn't respect Non-violence, not in a violent world of their own making.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
" Thomas Jefferson

Linda E.
Linda E.5 years ago

Thanks for your comments from the streets. This really is an important time, and the occupiers of Wall Street are heroes to me.

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson5 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

Thanks Delia.

Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

Thanks Delia.

Bonnie B.
Bonnie B.5 years ago

It takes a village. Thank you for a little peek into the original #OWS "village." If you haven't been to your local Occupy perhaps this will spark a visit. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg is trying to oust the Zuccotti Park #OWS by using the lame excuse of cleaning and repairs...and making a new rule of no sleeping bags and other things when/if they go back. This is, of course a stunningly obvious ploy to get rid of them. You can go to his web site or call him to let him know you are against this and that you are watching what he does to these peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.


Or call New York City's complaint line at (212) NEW-YORK--that's (212) 639-9675.

Maureen Heartwood

Great article.