OWS | Asleep & Awake
|Occupy Wall Street, October 11th & 12th 2011
In a sense Occupy Wall Street was a movement concerned with place: the name itself describes the seizure of a location known in contemporary culture as the scene of all those crimes they railed against.
Though very early on the protesters shifted focus from the physical Wall Street to camp in nearby Zuccotti park, there was a pronounced need for a geographical center for the movement. The police barricaded the park, locking the protesters in, and there they built a suspended village. There was a library, a medical station, portable generators, a field of tents. There was social stratification, with anarchists and free-loaders in the west, and academic suggesters-of-policy in the east.
Though many brought tents and sleeping bags, many others slept sitting up on the concrete benches.
And eventually the role of the park as a primarily public space was cited in the NYPD clearing letter. Due to the reportedly unsanitary and hazardous conditions, on November 15th the police evicted all protesters, preventing them from returning until a cleaning crew had passed through.
Returning protesters were not permitted to bring tents, tarps or sleeping bags.
OWS protesters countered that the effectiveness of the campaign had been reached, and that the usefulness of a standing encampment had been exhausted. Their phrase ‘we are the 99% percent’ had successfully entered the mainstream lexicon.