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OWS: Beyond Zuccotti Park

October 29, 2011

For the first time last night, I heard someone say “Holding on to, and maintaining, Zuccotti Park, is taking up all the energy of the organizers.”

Winter is here. It is becoming very difficult to stay overnight in the park.

The success of the movement has attracted hustlers and provocateurs. On Day 40, when rain had driven people to the church and there were only 2 “peacekeepers” at the site, two very aggro men used that opportunity to try to start a fight over each other’s signs (“you got to take that sign down”). The police watched and did nothing. When I left the peacekeepers were still calming them down.

One of the things I am worried about is that those people will torpedo the safe space concept if allowed to continue. Especially for women. The colder it gets, the fewer people at the site, the more these negative elements will have space to flex muscle. The media is also waiting for that moment, of course.

Do we have to make a fetish out of  this space? The core of dedicated workers already go and have meetings at 60 Wall Street and elsewhere. Work is getting done in small groups. The “Spoke” model passing in GA is an acknowledgment of that.

The Arts & Culture committee is already working in other spaces, like last night’s discussion/presentation.

Why not spread the movement to other decentralized locations? In fact, why not use the money donated to the OWS movement to rent a large space for a year, and use that as an organizational hub. (But, remove the provision of being able to sleep overnight in that space. I can’t think of any other way to deter the hustlers.)

What else? I’m sure there’s arguments to be made for the “presence” of tent city in Zuccotti through the winter. But the movement also needs to evolve beyond this one space.


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