All Day, All Week: Occupy Wall Street
20 Oct 2011

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Profile photo of Jessica Dugan
>>>Dream Chaser Activist * Live Music Enthusiast * Cannabis Industry Expert *Sparkle Spreader * Mindfulness Teacher * Yogi Artist with a Mermaid Soul <<<

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It’s hard to make the American who sees no concrete goal or purpose to Occupy understand the importance of why protesters sleep on cold and sometimes wet cement, night after night. Lately, I’ve been astonished when informing my peers about what’s going on at Zucotti Park, and their initial response is “What’s that?” Amongst the warriors of the mass, in the height of the rally, I spent this past week in the Mecca of all Occupies, at Zuccotti Park, in New York City to collect my own observations and report back to you.

On October 10, 2011 four of my friends and I hopped in a vehicle and charged north to Manhattan, making a fifteen hour trip in just twelve hours. The news from Occupy had been scarce and we were determined to see for ourselves the real battle cry of the 99%. By ten a.m. Tuesday morning, I found myself stepping out of our pod’s Cadillac onto the streets of NYC. The deliriousness I felt from the entrapment of the back middle seat couldn’t stop me now- the energy in the air was high and the hype of what was to come charged my soul.

Dressed in a Black Panthers vintage tee, chin up, I marched to the heart of Zucotti Park with a sign that read “Rage Against the Machine” held proudly over my head. “Show me what democracy looks like!” one side of the park exclaimed; the other side quickly responded, “This is what democracy looks like!” Chills trickled down my spine as the sound waves of the congregation vibrated through my body.

The platoon at Zuccotti does not discriminate, and in fact is represented in a range of incomes, a rainbow of colors, and a number of ages.  Consider me the horse’s mouth: the people of the protest are not what Fox news has referred to as “ left over hippies.” The people of the protest are a melting pot of students, lawyers, the unemployed, teachers, nurses, reverends, children, gays, blacks, whites, and even celebrities including Kanye West, Beats Antique, Spike Lee, and Susan Sarandon. Voices of outrage and reason are sustained at Zucotti Park.

Means to support the bodies of these voices, so that they don’t have to quit, have also been established at the park.   The city within a city is made up of several departments: a kitchen, a comfort zone, a medical center, a library, a creation station, a media center and a meditation zone. The food in the kitchen is all donation-based and comes from nearby city buildings, families, local farmers, and yes- even some corporations have helped feed the soldiers of freedom. Everyday meals of all kinds funnel in, and some have admitted to eating better at Occupy than out of their own homes. There is an organized routine when meals are served and volunteers cater to the needs of the hungry throughout the day.  I was surprised to be served by the actual Ben and Jerry when they donated an ice cream bar to the cause. Although they make up part of the corporate image, they’ve heard our cry, and have come to help and support our concerns.

Not able to leave this unbelievable gathering after just one day, I skipped my ride back to South Carolina and decided to camp out with the other 700, sleeping in force.  At the “comfort zone” I obtained a winter jacket, a scarf, new socks, blankets and tarps for camping, a hygiene kit, new jeans, and a poncho.  I had a roof over my head for a few nights, but did take to the streets for two, for inspiration and confidence. Finding a place to rest was a challenge at first, but after collecting enough cardboard for padding and blankets for warmth, I found myself gazing upon skyscrapers and drifting off to sleep.

By the time raindrops began splashing gently on my nose I knew it was time to be a part of Occupy, day 26.  Before coherence settled in, a friendly tap greeted my shoulder in order to warn me of oncoming rain.  Thanks to Occupy Yoga, I recharged every night with kundalini yoga and meditation. I also to revitalized through creative expression. The artist in me was thriving here: with the immense critical thinking surrounding my every conversation I was able to create three intelligent works.  My messages screamed in writing, “Greed is the Root of all Evil,” “Are You Fracking Kidding Me?,” and “We are the Global Revolution.” Photographed like a celebrity running from the paparazzi I held my signs with pride through both rain and shine.

What charged me up the most wasn’t shaking Tom Morello’s hand and meeting the guitar legend’s stare with my own. What really got me, was my first passive arrest training. On Friday, Mayor Bloomberg had called to remove the protesters in order to “clean” the park.  By doing this he could implement a new rule that would not allow tarps or sleeping bags in the park. This would make it nearly impossible to keep our grounds covered at night.  Our defense force congregated during Thursday evening’s general assemblies in order to plan for protecting our right to draw attention to America’s injustices. The general assembly is everyone involved in the current fight for less inequality.  Mic check is a form of communicating to the entire general assembly. At mic check, one person speaks in increments of five words at a time, and the surrounding body of people repeats these words to the next wave of bodies until the entire concern has been articulated. Patience is certainly a virtue in the GA.

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During late Thursday evening’s general assemblies, Russell Simmons peered from behind those communicating possible situations we could encounter come Friday morning. We discussed in five words at a time how to get arrested, and what happens if we do get arrested.  Every concern that could possibly be addressed regarding arrests was covered.  Even with members of the city council standing close by in support, I was nervous about seeing jail for the first time. It wasn’t until I had the phone number to the NYC’s National Lawyers Guild inscribed across my wrist that I was fearless. That’s right OWS has a team of defense lawyers working for it. This phone number was also communicated at the GA, and everyone has it in case they end up with only one phone call…

On Friday morning at six a.m., park protection troops were recruited and police- extremely outnumbered- did not stand a chance. Bloomberg’s failed mission built muscle behind the GA and kept everyone courageous for the epic march to Times Square to come on Saturday, day 29.

There I was on day 30, packed like a sardines in a subway, riding from Zuccotti Park to Times Square with thousands of other protesters. The scene was so chaotic downtown that I got separated from my crew with in twenty minutes of exiting the subway car. It didn’t matter that I was lost because my people (your people) were everywhere and surrounding me at all sides. As we marched towards the bright lights that make Times Square the icon it is in our minds, butterflies raged in my stomach.  It was like that feeling you get when you know you’ve gone and fallen in love, only the butterflies fluttered with more fury and flapped with rage.

By six o’clock I had to dip to my bus station. I was regretting my plans to leave early, but happy to escape the ongoing police violence and disdain for those they are supposed to protect.  One thought ran through my head as I walked to the bus: If we are not the change we wish to see, then who are we?

I believe that the Occupy demonstrations around the country and now the globe will be the spark to ignite a flame of a revolution on a personal and national scale. Occupiers want to see this one through…when in history have this many Americans slept outside on concrete together?  You know something’s going on!!    There are many reasons to Occupy, and even the most determined dissenters of the movement can admit at least one major failing of our American System- that’s why To Occupy.  Hopefully this movement recharges your own revolutionary soul, reader.

How can you get involved if you are unable to make it to a demonstration? Educate yourself on a national issue that you think needs to be addressed.  Get the background, the arguments, and then find out how you can make a difference with just your daily choices.  Then spread the word of your newfound empowerment, and empower others.

You can also donate to the General Assembly of the OWS movement here!

And find out more about the message HERE: http://occupywallst.org/

Watch a 24/7 live stream of Zuccotti Park HERE: http://www.livestream.com/occupynyc

 

 

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