(In Part 4 of his oral history of Occupy, Truth Now discusses his fondest memories, as well as the eviction of occupiers from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan.)
What is your fondest memory of Occupy?
Within all the chaos, my friends and I were doing this meditation, silent meditation, so it was a very interesting juxtaposition to some of the, like, “This is what we want,” “We’re this,” “We’re that,” “This is what’s messed up,” “That’s what’s messed up,” so we were bringing a calmness, an added presence of peace to the park.
A certain amount of people meditating for peace and harmony can actually create peace and harmony. It actually has tangible impacts that can be viewed. I didn’t necessarily always know that was happening, but there was just a feeling of calm, of peace, of knowing that I was part of my community’s addition to Occupy.
So, I’d say some of those silent meditations are my favorite memories. I got to see all my friends in my community, but we were also offering something that was very different to people who maybe didn’t have any intention to meditate that day or were just walking by, like, “Oh, this is different,” then maybe sat down to meditate. Having that experience and those moments was definitely my favorite thing that happened.
What was the largest meditation group you were a part of at Zuccotti?
At least, like, 75 people, a lot of people. And there were others sort of quietly observing it, even if what they were doing wasn’t actually sitting and meditating. It had this field and then other people would become, like, tourists to the field. So, it had a bigger circle than just the people who had the intention to just sit down and actually meditate for 25 minutes or an hour.
Take me through the day of the eviction of Occupy from Zucotti Park, from beginning to end, for you.
At around 3:00 a.m., I was in my room in Bushwick and there was, like, an “all call” on social media, and through all the chatter and everything, to show up and show a presence, because the eviction was taking place.
So, by the time I got there, maybe it was, like, 3:40, 3:45, and there were a few levels of barricades – you know – to getting to the park, set up by the NYPD, so I couldn’t get back in, but there were, like, thousands of us answering that call, even if we weren’t all occupying on a daily basis.
So, it was just a bunch of – you know – being moved around, coordinating with people about where we could go, where we couldn’t go, where there was gonna be an action or information about what was being asked of occupiers in response to people being arrested and things like that.
I remember being stuck at multiple blocks, then sort of moving around with a flow of people interested in getting more information about what was happening, how many people were in custody, what was being done about all that, then we ended up at a smaller park and occupied that. That was when media coverage came out that morning.
So, basically all morning, from, like, 3:40 to 7:30 a.m. or so, maybe 8 a.m., I was just with people, talking to people, showing solidarity, doing interviews, too, because that seemed like a time when some people were too traumatized to speak on the matter, so I gave multiple interviews that day.
I gave an interview to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, because he came out, which I thought was really nice, because he wanted to get people’s stories out and talk to people. I also gave an interview to Fox 5 or something, one of the local Fox channels, about what had gone on, what I’d been hearing, why we came out, why we were ever there, and how inhumane and disrespectful the entire police response had been.
The police created atrocities, giving people no warning. People might’ve obviously resisted, but it was just a very shocking, difficult, and in my opinion, illegal seizure of property, because they weren’t just doing mass arrests where they actually, like, hold your property. They were just throwing everybody’s shit away.
The police were intentionally, I think, creating a lot of chaos as, like, a way to punish people for having occupied.
So, we were out all night chanting. A bunch of us were, like, standing on a cop car. I had written a spoken word piece, so I got to do that piece. Someone sitting on a stoplight at a crosswalk filmed me while I was on the cop car, so it had this very anarchist-NYC vyb.
From the top of the cop car, I’d just speak to what I thought the bigger point of it all was, some of the things going on in the park, some of the things going on for me personally.
It was a little bit of anarchy, because – you know – as cops changed their minds and moved their lines and all that, they had – you know … (trails off) Like, certain cop cars were obviously basically just parked on the street, because there were so many cops and cop cars, so several of them were, like, getting the air let out of their tires, people were writing on them, or we were standing on one in this case, and it felt like just a little tit for tat.
You know? Like, “Oh, okay. We can’t occupy the park right now but we can occupy this fuckin cop car,” that kind of thing.
There were so many people, there was so much of a presence, that they couldn’t move all of their property, the same way we couldn’t move all of ours.
What were your interactions with the police like from where you were at that point?
To my memory, I wasn’t personally assaulted or touched, but it was very typical: pushing their way through, continuing to pen us up. There was a feeling of not knowing what types of new boundaries they would set up or break that day. So, there was this feeling of just constantly escaping, that we were constantly escaping a bigger and bigger control grid as they were using physical force, batons at least, but mostly just shoving and doing things to try to draw out a physical response from people in order to arrest people for whatever.
So, there was this kind of, like, cat and mouse game going on.
I didn’t really talk to any of the police that day. I just had a kind of, like, attitude that morning, but at the same time, I was not, like, trying to get smacked in the face or get detained or something. So, I did everything I could short of, like, spitting on them in return for what they were doing, told them where they could shove it and that what they were doing was breaking the law and violating the peace.
And it depended on the cop. There were also a lot who – you could just tell – did not wanna be there, because they had just been doing it for so long. I mostly just had interest in talking to other people that day, and I talked to some silent drone members of the force and gave them a list of reasons for why they should go home and quit their job and do something in service of humanity.
It tends to be annoying to them and it provides some sort of emotional release for seeing people mistreated in that way. But, mostly, I just knew it doesn’t really lead anywhere and you don’t really wanna interact with them, because you’re not just talking to a person. You’re also talking to a cop. They’ve resigned themselves to the uniform. They’ve resigned themselves to taking orders. They’re like guards at Buckingham Palace: very good at ignoring civilians.
How close were you able to get to the park while the eviction was taking place?
Maybe, like, one or two blocks away, because there were just so many people. So, people would let you get all the way to the frontline to the police boundary. People up there were worried the police boundary could get moved suddenly and cause them to get trampled, but the police were using concrete blocks and more fencing and barricades by that point.
I spent a little time on the frontline, just to be there and feel that and, like, yeah, I wanted to do that. I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t want to just be a tourist. And it was really about being there to ask people who had been there longer, like, “Hey, do you need anything? Can I get you a bottle of water or something?”
I was there in support of people who had been there all night, who had lived there all week or longer, and to give them a chance to relax.
Even though there was constantly the fear of being moved again or being penned up, there was also this block party kind of atmosphere, because we outnumbered the police by so many, so there was this feeling of camaraderie, this feeling that the forced eviction didn’t mean that Occupy was over. You know?