Occupy Wall Street – The Future Belongs to Crowds

Occupation Wall Street, if nothing else, is about access to public space.
As thousands of demonstrators marched to Times Square to mark the 10 year anniversary of the bombing of Afghanistan, the police shouted through bull horns, “clear the sidewalk for pedestrian traffic,“ to which the demonstrators replied, “We are pedestrian traffic!
Once in Times Square, the NYPD set up the familiar cages, forcing the crowd into geometric pockets so cars could pass and the crowd could be contained. It hardly mattered that thousands of people were crushed together with no place to move, while double decker tourist buses sailed south, uninhibited, their passengers, waving and snapping pictures.
The surreal aspect was amplified by the fact that the only time masses of people are permitted to crowd into Times Square is on New Years Eve. It’s an event usually avoided by New Yorkers but familiar to all from television footage showing festive and expectant throngs looking skyward, huddled together in the cold, waiting to be entertained, waiting for the ball to drop, waiting in a fundamental way, to be released. But on Oct 15, people were not waiting for anything. There was no signal, no speakers. They weren’t there to receive instructions. They weren’t there to shop. They were simply, and undeniably, there.

To see them with hand made signs, surrounded by huge advertisements of the furry penguin from Happy Feet, or the red Bank of America sign, or the giant Mama Mia poster, was so strange it made Times Square into something all together stunning. At one point, a man climbed on a pole, lit a sparkler, and the crowd sang, “This Little Light of Mine.” There amid the most intense neon per square foot perhaps in the world, someone lights a sparkler and the crowd starts singing.

Curious to see how the NYPD responds in the days ahead to Occupy Wall Street’s use of the intentional crowd in a city fully crowded. I am reminded of

4 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street – The Future Belongs to Crowds”

  1. I fear, “officials” will soon crackdown, tired of allowing Occupy to maintain their status. It is possible CERTAIN politicians fear looking weak, hence, “crackdown”. What will it take for real changes to occur based on the throngs of crowds now, worldwide? I applaud them all. Unfortunately, we have seen much historical change happen through violence: The Arab Spring, the 60’s & 70’s. Vietnam War; riots: Birmingham, Alabama; Kent State; Chicago Democratic Convention 1968; Two Kennedys’ murdered for their Democratic visionary forward thinking, & not to forget Martin Luther King, a hero to this day for Civil Rights. Those are years that truly stick in my mind forever imprinted. Still I have concern for those downtown. The pepper spray incident was bad, however, “crackdown” could mean more serious effects. The NYPD can shoot a plane out of the sky, and have the CIA working for them in NYC. Politicians, let everyone have their FREEDOM of speech, & their will be no blood on your hands.

    Nina Berman, thanks for your reporting. This could make REAL change which could affect us, youth, elders, for the not to distant future.


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