This week, I have a story in the print version of the paper about what would happen if Occupy Wall Street was no longer occupying Zuccotti Park. The story went to print before the city evicted the protesters on Monday night.
Some aspects of the piece are now obviously outdated (for example, that the park is “bursting at the seams, with barely any room to walk in some parts”) but the question of what the former Zuccotti occupation will do now is even more pressing. It had been clear for some time that Zuccotti was unsustainable, and now that it’s gone, the next move has to happen fast.
Though OWS’s lawyers mounted a legal challenge to the eviction, they received bad news yesterday afternoon: no tents, generators, or sleeping gear would be allowed into the park, though it would remain open to the public 24 hours a day. Any hope for a re-occupation of that particular space is officially out of the question, though not for want of trying: last night when police allowed everyone back into a completely bare Zuccotti Park, hundreds flooded the park for a post-raid General Assembly. “Re-occupy” was on everyone’s lips and minds, but it’s not a possibility. People aren’t even allowed to lie down in the park, though we saw one man doing so around 9:30 last night in an apparent attempt to bait the cops. (They didn’t bite).
A couple churches have opened their doors to former occupiers, and other options abound, including linking up with other cities’ occupations: last night at the GA, a man from Occupy New Haven invited OWS to join him. “We have ample room,” he said.
And the idea that we wrote about of squatting in foreclosed buildings is looking more immediate, according to people involved in the plans. And of course, there’s the larger possibility of simply not occupying anything at all and using other protest tactics instead.
Is this the end of the movement? Probably not. In today’s Daily News, Harry Siegel describes how the raid may have been exactly the kick in the pants that OWS needed:
Once again, Bloomberg and Kelly have breathed new life into what had been a struggling political movement. First, their brief eviction helped split the occupiers from Zuccotti Park itself, which had become a sometimes shady, frequently overpacked and unpleasant place. The park that was supposed to be a model society — and had become the star around which other cities’ occupations rotated — had become a burden to many of the organizers. Even the culture jammers at Adbusters, credited with calling for a day of action, which in turn sparked the occupation, argued on Monday it was time to move on from the parks.
The one-two punch of the police eviction and court decision gave purpose back to a broader movement that has lately seemed adrift.
The eviction has finally given the movement something on which to focus its energies. At the very least, it pretty much guarantees that Thursday’s march on the New York Stock Exchange will be a lot rowdier than it might have been otherwise.