Did you hear? Occupy Wall Street came home to Liberty Square on June 1st.
“What?” you say? OWS is still around?
Yup. It sure is.
Since the day after the NYPD brutally raided the park, smashing our things and throwing out our library, we have continued to organize and build the Occupy network.
Why June 1st?
Summer is just around the corner! And many people agree that having actions when it’s warm outside is usually more popular than when it is ten below. That aside, here’s a bit of history as I know it. Several months ago an individual (not well known in Occupy circles in NYC) created an event on Facebook called “Re-Occupy Wall Street.” Many people said they were “going.” Several people I know from different Occupy circles wanted to know more details. They asked him simple questions about how the event was being organized. Looking at the conversations, I consistently saw that their questions were met with name-calling and cynicism. (This should also be a reminder to everyone, that electronic conversations are easily shared with the world.) After seeing those conversations, I decided that I didn’t want to be a part of that action, so I removed it from my events.
But I couldn’t help but feel that yearning tug to connect with people again. To be present in - to occupy – public space. To get out of the three to 20 person meetings and feel a part of that bigger whole. To let ourselves been seen. Sometimes, that’s the most powerful thing: Sitting down and talking with each other, using the public commons to listen and take part in the democratic process with the people around you.
I was hoping that someone or someones would plan a gathering in Liberty Square in a respectful, principled, and thoughtful way for June 1st.
As it has always been with Occupy, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. If you don’t like what someone else is doing or the way they’re doing it, it’s on you to do it better.
I am glad to say that some folks took on that challenge. Some of them are folks I know and trust who I have seen plan fantastic Occupy Town Squares, Direct Actions, and ongoing Occupy-related campaigns here in New York City. Some of them I have not met yet. But I have seen them express patience and understanding in online forums. I also see that they are taking care to be very intentional about their call to action. They are calling the event, the “Occupy Wall Street Homecoming.”
It is also common for Occupy to do actions in solidarity with other movements around the world. I just found out that a group called “New York Action Group in Solidarity with Occupy Gezi Parki Istanbul” is calling for an assembly at noon on June 1st in Liberty Square in solidarity with the current Occupation of Gezi Park by people in Istanbul against the privatization of public resources and the against the violence of the police towards the demonstrators.
While being a way to reconnect with each other, the Occupy Wall Street Homecoming is very much about continuing to change the conversation by putting our bodies on the line, and taking a stand against the greed and injustice that is corroding our democratic institutions and our planet.
However, rather than a typical occupation that stays in one place, the organizers are calling for people to use a tactic that was popularized in the winter of 2011 after the camp in Zuccotti was evicted. It’s called a Sleepful Protest (a play on "peaceful protest"). It usually involves picking a corporate target (we’ve targeted Goldman Sachs, Trinity Church Corporation, CitiBank, Chase, and Bank of America in the past) and legally sleeping outside of it with a group of 5 to 20 people. This helps spread our visibility and helps with educational outreach about the corrupt and unjust practices of some of these institutions. No experience is necessary to take part in the Sleepful Protest and legal training will be provided so everyone knows how to stay safe.
Sunday, June 2nd
9AM: Convergence Begins Again! Each and every day, we will meet in Liberty Plaza to reclaim the public forum and work together to change the world!
2PM: Direct Action Planning Meeting for the Monday, June 3rd Direct Action. Join us in determining how together we will stand up to Wall Street and their captured politicians in Washington!
8PM: Sleep Cell Convergence!
Monday, June 3rd
9AM: Convergence for Direct Action!
8PM: Sleep Cell Convergence!
Passed: Saturday, June 1st
9AM: Convergence Begins! Bring your signs, your opinions, your children – bring your willingness to support your fellow human beings and speak truth to power! Noon: Protest In Solidarity with Istanbul Gezi Parki Occupiers. For more information, See the facebook event here.
6PM: People’s Assembly! Come be a part of political dissent and talk to others in a non-oppressive, horizontal assembly. We invite performers, musicians, puppeteers and artists to come perform at the assembly. We will be fluid and will respond to the needs of the community in stewarding the assembly. Simply raising your voice in public and saying “Enough!” can be a radically transformative act, and our voice shared together is a mighty thing to behold! For more information on The People’s Assembly, visit this facebook event page.
8PM: Sleep Cell Convergence! Liberty Plaza is the home of Occupy Wall Street, but we express our power by direct action, and sleep on the streets as a political action to expose the corrosion that is corrupting our world. Our targets may consistently change, but we can always be found here first as we choose our actions of resistance on a nightly basis!
What to expect at Liberty Square on June 1st
Expect a friendly atmosphere, good conversation, some awesome costumes, some people in suits, mic checks, and lots of old and new faces.
That said, expect that the Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) will be barricaded except for one small entrance on Broadway. Know that this is a tool to indimidate us from exercising our rights to peaceful democratic assembly. But let us not give in. Let’s let our creativity, our determination, and our hope for a more just world give us the courage to assemble anyway and the strength to ignore and resist their tactics to distract us.
Expect that the police will find a way to cause a commotion in the park at night (like confiscating someone’s musical instrument or arresting them for no particular reason). This may likely lead to them closing the park. This is more or less what happened on March 17th, 2013. Dozens of people were arrested and some of them were injured as police forcefully removed people who refused to give up their right to democratic right to public assembly in public space. The organizers of the Homecoming are hoping to avoid a similar situation by having people intentionally leave the park at 8PM to participate in the Sleepful Protest at corporate targets around Manhattan.
Also expect that you may not be allowed to bring your large backpack into the park. People with tenting equipment or their facsimiles are also often prevented from entering the park.
Expect that when you leave the park to take place in the sleepful protest the police will likely bother you (deciding the sidewalk needs to be cleaned – twice- and making you move several times during the night). This is despite the fact that it is legal to sleep on a public sidewalk so long as so long as no building entrance is blocked and no more than half the sidewalk is used so that others may walk by.
Know your rights! And check out the nifty write up Mutant Legal put together. Have the NLG number written on your body somewhere, just in case the police get out of hand. The NLG number is (212) 679-6018).
If a police officer stops you, remember you can ask, “Am I being detained?” If the answer is no, then you ask, “Am I free to go?” If you are not free to go and are being search make sure to loudly say, “I do not consent to this search.” Once you have said that you can say, “I invoke my right to remain silent, “ and then continue to remain silent.
Lastly, remember the Golden Rule! Keep calm and cameras on.