(Kanaska Carter reflects on the last days and weeks of life in Zuccotti Park, the eviction of Occupy from the park on November 15, 2011, and the beginning of the movement living on in the aftermath. Carter lived, worked, and rebelled in Zuccotti from September 17, 2011 to the morning of the eviction by police, the first day of Occupy to the last. This is her third discussion in HTR‘s Occupy History series.)
What is your most difficult memory of Occupy?
Other than the eviction, the worst experience: One night, I was the first person to wake up and I noticed the police had taken our generators. In the middle of the night, they took all of our technology that kept the power going.
I had to report it on the live stream, freezing cold, to a black screen. I couldn’t even see the screen, but somehow it was broadcasting. That was probably one of the most difficult days.
Could you describe your experience of the day of the eviction?
I remember having a fever of a hundred and something. Something was gonna happen. I could feel it. So, I had a hundred and something degree fever and was about to walk back to my tent from getting some hygienic supplies when I see the cops roll up in this huge cop-van thing.
This massive satellite-thing comes out the top of it and starts spinning, then you see all these cops rushing in, handing out papers, “eviction notice” papers, to everybody, and this woman starts yelling “DON’T TAKE THE PAPERS” and then the police just start trashing everything.
So, my friends and I took as many of our belongings as we could and we got outta there. You know … (short pause)
It was pretty brutal. It was, like, two in the morning, probably one of the scariest moments of my life, because it kind of made you realize the revolution was a lie – you know – because you could fight back to a point, but the cops have the technology to totally kick our ass, and kill us if they want to, any given moment.
What do you mean by “trashing everything?”
Tossing out books, tossing out tents, kicking people out, and we kept following it on video after we got out.
Cops were wrestling protesters. People were facing tear gas, you could see people tying themselves to trees with a gas mask on.
I had to leave as soon I could after the cops showed up, because if I’d gotten arrested I would never have been allowed back in America. So, some friends and I took as much of our stuff as we would and left.
Where did you go?
From there, I went to one of the churches with my friends. The churches were taking in a lot of protesters. They were awesome, a lot of good people. One of my good friends was a priest who was taking in a lot of protesters after the eviction, and some friends ended up letting me and my boyfriend at the time stay at their place.
Do you feel Occupy ended?
I think it went on and became smaller communities of people. Communities of people are what was sparked from Occupy. Occupy helped create that. And there were Occupies worldwide. It seemed like every country had an Occupy by the end of it. I remember going to Time Square and seeing, “Occupy goes worldwide.”
It created an idea of community that a lot of people wanted. A lot of people worldwide can’t afford the way certain economies are. You know. They’re struggling to pay rent. It created an idea of a community where people kind of just help each other.
What was the question again?
Did Occupy end?
Around five months after the eviction from Zuccotti, my boyfriend and I created a show. His father was a sculptor who had recreated the sculpture that was at Occupy. He made it out of wood. My friend, the priest who I mentioned earlier, let us use his church for the event. And we played music and we danced to DJs all night. I had it set up with different things painted all around that made it look like you were at Occupy.
So, I don’t think it really died. You know what I mean?
It’s still kind of living on in people’s hearts.
It woke a lot of people up to what was going on, because there were so many different minds at Occupy. You would come into the park and you would just see everybody talking to everybody. They were from all different walks of life. It opened up a lot of minds.
It made people more aware, I think, of the corruption that’s going on in the world, because it was all over the news and it woke people up to the massive gaps that need to be fixed in society, in how many people are suffering. Some people can’t even afford to go see a dentist or a doctor or they’re paying tens or hundreds of thousands in medical bills or student debt. It woke people up to a lot of different things.
The world isn’t perfect. People knew that already. But then there was a coming together of energies. And then there was Occupy.