Posted by: Mark Gimein on November 16, 2011 at 7:18 AM
The Occupation is dead. Long live the Occupation! Just before one o’clock this morning, less than 20 hours after Zuccotti Park was cleared by the New York City police, a bearded man in a yarmulke debated—civilly—with a younger man holding up a cardboard sign with a Martin Luther King quotation. The head of security for the now not-quite-occupation stood on the periphery chatting with a beat cop. A small circle of students sat on the ground, with one going so far as to lie down and rest her head on her pack. Camping is not permitted, resting seems to be fine.
Though still ringed by police (minus the riot gear and scowls), the now famous one block square park is not a pacified no-man’s land. It actually recalls New York’s Washington Square Park before its renovation: a street carnival of skater kids, students, protesters, performers, and the occasional lunatics. With its bars of light recessed into the ground, and bright yellow foliage, the plaza itself—a dreary, empty place before the occupation—is an attractive place for a post-midnight stroll. The tents, generators and the rest are gone. The impromptu free speech zone is not.
Earlier in the evening, rumors flew that the park would be subject to an evening curfew. It is not. Though there has reportedly been some dispute about backpacks and bags, true to the city’s word, Zuccotti Park re-opened. This was the smart move for the city. The paradox of protests: once they really get going, they draw strength from the efforts to shut them down. In this way they can be like nightclubs, interesting mainly when someone is trying to keep you from getting in.
(Photographs: Mark Gimein)