I went over to Liberty Square at 3:30 this morning and saw the endgame. Broadway and Church Streets were blocked. The subway entances were closed. The place was ringed by hundreds of cops manning metal fences that were set up in a block from the park, encircling it, so I couldn’t get near. But I could see. The place was ablaze under Kleig lights. Huge white garbage trucks with signs on their sides stating “clean up after your dog” were pulling up and loading up. They carted off the 5000 book library, along the tents and the personal belongs of the people they had driven out. Some stayed and fought and some 70 got arrested. I read that ultimately water canons were used a la Bull Connor.
I spoke with several occupiers who had been driven out. One was a young man from South Carolina, who was broke and alone with no place to go. He said his name was Colin Lauf, pointing out the irony of his name to me.
The decision to crush OWS must have been made in coordination with the White House. Five other occupations have recently been dispersed. The cops in New York jointly man a command center on lower Broadway along with executives from Wall street. There they monitor thousands of cameras. Some are trained on Liberty Park. They have face recognition computers and they had undercover cops pretending to be occupiers inside. They must have mapped out who was there and where. They had hundreds of names and dossiers from the one thousand arrests they had already made.
The phenomenon of OWS was dangerous to the powers that be, too popular, growing rapidly in an increasingly radical direction, aimed ultimately at private property and its owners, hugely democratic, building alternative institutions, sketching a vision of a new society, having the frightening potential to “bring about a new world from the ashes of the old.” Bloomberg is asserting this morning on New York One that “the decision was ultimately mine” and not doubt it was, but he did it in consultation with other elites, for them and for him. They could not let live an encampment on the doorstep of their emcampment, a symbolic occupation of Wall St. which was more than symbolic, which was threatening to them in an existential way.
Clearly this is a defeat for us. But the movement is underway and has not been defeated. It will morph and regather. Already this morning people are gather nine blocks north in Foley Square. There will be new forms of organization, there already are. The national conversation has begun. We will make the most of it.