The first time I visited the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park, I was coming back from helping my friend move his air conditioner from his old Harlem apartment into his new place a few blocks away. We tied the unit to my skateboard and pulled it along like a doggy on a leash. People on the street got a kick out of it, as I called out “Here Fido, Fido! Good boy, Fido!” My left hand was bloodied and wrapped in a bandanna after I cut it while removing the air conditioner. As we walked, I asked him “Hey, have you heard about those people camping out in Wall Street? Wanna check it out after we’re done?” He didn’t think much as he responded “Eh, sure, we’ll check it out and have a few beers afterwards.” So that was that, and we didn’t think much of it as we took the downtown train later on that day.
There were less than a hundred people at Zuccotti Park. We walked around and chatted with a few occupiers, before heading out to St. Marks for a few beers. As we sat and drank our ales, I asked him if he’d like to come down with me next week to take some photos of the occupiers at Zuccotti. “Eh sure, we’ll have some beers afterwards.” he replied, and we didn’t think much of it as we sat there staring out the window as we sipped our beers.
A week later we were back at Zuccotti Park after coming back from the Slut Walk march that we heard about during the week and decided to check out before going down to Occupy Wall Street (I’ll talk more about that in a future entry). The park was nearly empty and we asked a friendly girl if she knew where everyone was. She said everyone was heading to march across the Brooklyn Bridge and she was walking there herself, so we tagged along.
A few minutes later, we were right smack in the middle of the bridge, in the midst of a sea of people, all marching, chanting, and getting arrested on the car lanes below. NYPD had us all penned in like a herd of cattle and they began bringing in police trucks and buses to carry off those arrested. The sea of people swelled and roared like an ocean during a storm, as I wondered how the Hell I was going to get out of this one. After realizing that I was stuck in there for a while (having lost my friend a few hundred people back and he shook his head like a terrified child being forced to sit on a scary mall Santa’s lap), I began to chant and even started some of my own chants. I belted out “Hell no! We won’t go!” and it caught on like wildfire, first a handful then a few dozen, then the whole crowd. At that moment I felt like there was no place on Earth I would rather be. My old punk rock miscreant self was brought back to life with the energy and electricity that ran through the human tidal wave that flooded the Brooklyn Bridge.
A few hours later, I was reunited with my friend and we decided to go to St. Marks for some beers. As we sat at the bar drinking our ales, I asked my friend “So, wanna go again next week?”. He sipped his beer and said “Sure, I’ll go with you. We can have some beers afterwards.”, and we sat there staring out the window and not thinking much of it for the rest of the evening.