The Zuccotti Park Eviction

Our march arrives at City Hall, distributing itself against the steps and the center fountain. Tensions are high. We’ve arrived, we all know, but the question is now what? The crowd bends itself into a circle, reflexively taking General Assembly form.

MIC CHECK! (. . . )

MIC CHECK! ( . . .)

But everyone is talking among themselves. Marches from other blocks are arriving, adding to the numbers, asking what are we doing? The lack of central leadership – the crucial element of Occupy Wall Street’s direct participatory democracy—is showing its tactical weaknesses. A few people, people I recognize from the park, stand in the center and try to facilitate.

We need to hold City Hall! But if you are going to be arrested, make sure you are doing it because it has meaning!

If you get arrested here, the only thing it’ll mean is that you let yourself get kettled!

Squad cars and vans begin to pour into the plaza, slowly and methodically sealing off one exit after another as the group debates among itself. My friend and I climb the fountain to get a better look. It looks like…

Listen, this is not time for a [expletive] General Assembly, we need to sit down and prepare to hold—

We need to keep moving, draw the cops onto us and off our friends at the—

And so forth and something, I don’t know, because my friend and I are filming the view—helicopter blades and searchlights like disco balls, sirens and flashing lights, police marching in formation, forming ranks or just outright sprinting down side roads—and realizing that very soon this mass of mostly peaceful protestors will be absolutely surrounded; I had a hard time grasping what would be gained by that, innocent or not.

Everyone move in close, get in tight.

No! We need to march to…

There comes a time in every man’s life when he must look into those dark recesses of his soul, when he probes the depths of his character and discovers in a moment of pure, certain action exactly the type of man he has become. For me, this moment occurred at 3:10 a.m. when, faced with the realization that the protest was surrounded except for the tiniest side-road sliver, I said to my dear friend and cameraman, “[Expletive] this, dude, I’ve got a Macbook in my backpack. Not trying to get dropped on my laptop, here.” He must have understood the gravity of the situation (it was a Pro), because he immediately hopped off the fountain, put the camera away, and walked with me to the only road not currently blockaded.



March! March! March!

I mean it was the strangest thing. We were halfway out of the plaza, the police were moving in on the hundred or so protestors who stayed to hold City Hall, and when we looked over our shoulder we saw behind us hundreds of protestors apparently following us. In the most literal and temporal sense possible, we were leading Occupy Wall Street.

I don’t know if the broken-down assembly couldn’t decide on a destination for their march in time or what, but it seemed as though hundreds of people looked around, saw the window to avoid immediate arrest closing, saw two dudes jogging quite confidently in that direction, and just assumed somebody in the mob must have decided on something, so let’s follow the two guys up front. People were rushing up behind us, pumping fists in the air and chanting march! march! march! It was incredible! Like being a hero, a revolutionary, like what it must feel like to be the opposite of LeBron James!

“Dude, they’re–“

“I know!

We looked at each other and felt so potent! So sure-footed were we, leading the revolution down the path to freedom, that we began to jog, to wave our arms and shout march! march! march! march! march! until our throats tore hoarse and we realized with soiled-pants certainty that appearing to be sort-of leaders for Occupy Wall Street for even thirty seconds was an incredibly dangerous proposition – one which apparently causes unmarked police cars to hurl themselves at you at full speed, losing control and drifting Fast and Furious-style directly up onto the curb, narrowly avoiding killing you dead and instead blasting through a garbage can, shattering the front headlights and scattering bundles of grimy New York trash across the road.

I responded to the situation by screaming and leaping backwards, which I imagine didn’t appear very heroic to those marching behind me, but which must have looked better than what I did next, which was to inadvertently retreat directly into a cloud of tear gas.

“Wait is th—“ I yelled.


The march gained speed, moved to jogs and sprints, but never faster than the chopper’s searchlight, never faster than squad cars and vans. A winding, terrible half-mile parade twisted its way from the Financial District to Union Square and back: protestors scouting ahead on bicycles, followed by squad cars always one parallel block away, then the march, then the rows of police. When the march jogged down a narrow alley; the police jogged down a narrow alley. When the march broke into sprints; the police broke into sprints. The NYPD were well-trained. They were ready for tonight.

Soon they were walking side-by-side with the march, providing the sort of “escort” which allowed them to detain large portions of protestors at every other crosswalk. The end goal was to put as many gaps in the march as was possible, so those gaps could be filled with more police escorts, which would then divide and delay even smaller groups, and so on and so forth until the protests had fallen apart. It was a strategy they would maintain throughout the night. Divide. Delay. Officers were posted at subway entrances, keeping protestors above ground where they could be tracked. Divided. And delayed. Those who hadn’t killed their phone batteries on GPS and Twitter relayed rumors of police presence at Washington Square Park, Union Square, Tompkins Square Park – anywhere we might want to go.

They would grind down the number of protestors slowly, one block at a time. And while Occupy Wall Street likely wasn’t thrilled with yet again becoming a target of the NYPD, it’s worth noting that the opinion on the ground seemed to be that the NYPD was more professional and less belligerent last night than in past conflicts. Of course that doesn’t mean—as is the case with the protestors – that there wasn’t a percentage whose behavior reflects poorly on the rest.

At 3:35 A.M. on the corner of East 4th St and Broadway, eight to ten blue-shirt NYPD officers charged—and I mean full on, medieval infantry charged—into the rear of what appeared to be a peacefully protesting crowd walking the same direction, catching the protestors seemingly unaware and beating them with batons. There were multiple witnesses, though none were aware of what might have provoked the officers into such a sudden escalation of force. Also, at approximately 3:47 A.M. near the corner of Spring St and Broadway, a glass bottle was hurled at a police escort. Though no officers were harmed, the alleged thrower was arrested and laid face-down in the area of the broken glass.

These actions were uncalled for, but also entirely unnecessary from a tactical standpoint. After three hours of pursuit, most of the hundreds of protestors that began their march off the Fulton Street station were scattered and fatigued, ready to rest, regroup, and reassess things some other time. Occupy Wall Street still had its technical infrastructure, its planned Day of Action, it’s war chest full of donations – with many having worked all day and marched all night, what the movement needed most immediately was food and sleep.

Come sunrise, I put down my notepad and took up with a group handing out bottled water and snacks. Protestors congregated on a nearby stoop, updating Twitter with the next day’s plans. At the end of the street, police officers leaned against a railing. There would be a tomorrow. TC mark

image – Paul Lowry


More From Thought Catalog

  • macgyver51

    Sheez, you guys actually think you’re epic. Just a bunch of spoiled kids.

    • JJ

      How do you know if they are spoiled? It has nothing to do with epic, they have the right to protest, they used that right and if you are anywhere in the same economic strata as them or me or most middle or lower middle class people, then you should empathize. If you arent, why would it bother you anyway? Are you from NYC?

      • macgyver51

        Oooooh, so everyone in the same tax bracket is automatically connected. My bad, missed that part. This isn’t about how much you make, its about people with nothing better to do that have inflated egos. I don’t feel sorry for a bunch of migrants to the most expensive US city to live in the middle of a recession and then blame everyone else when that backfires in their face. Now they’ve spawned a whole movement of folks who blame all of their problems on anyone but themselves.

      • JJ

        I am not saying that every person involved is blameless or has their priorities straight. But i will say this Macgyver, i know SO MANY people with degreees, who have supported themselves and dont rely on mom and pop, who bust their asses and still cant find a job. It isnt their faul but you seem to thing they should point the finger in the mirror? And also how do you know if they moved here? People are from here and this is their home. And the issues they are upset about arent just New Yorks issues. In fact unemployment is rampant in dirt cheap places like Nevada and  Michigan, along with awful housing issues. The people(young, entitled people) in NYC are actually smart and have chosen not to buy a 4 bedroom house that is beyond what they can afford, they room with people and make do. Im sorry im rambling, but the lack of compassion or at least an attempt to understand what the intent of a lot of these people is,  is baffling. And this is coming from someone who has been on their own for years, who bought their state education with their own money, and is employed. And i still have compassion for them. Unbelievable.

      • macgyver51

        With the incoherent sentence structure and completely absurd ideas, I have to believe that you are simply kidding around with this post.

      • Asdf

        As opposed to pointless political trolling?

      • macgyver51

        Is that how it works? When someone doesn’t agree with you, they’re a troll? Awesome.

      • Asdf

        How do you know I disagree with you? No. Your abundance of generalizations, ad hominems, guilt by association arguments, on and on and on is what marks you as a troll in my eyes.

      • DS

        So the fact that corporations now count as people doesn’t bother you? A higher percentage of OWS is employed than of the Tea Party. Stop deflecting the issue and start acknowledging that the system isn’t perfect.

      • macgyver51

        Responding to all three of your sentences. 1-Thats not even relevant, or true. 2-I’ve seen that statistic floating around the internets as well. Maybe not from an actual source, but hey, everyone loves made up stats and hearsay. 3-We agree on the issue, but for some reason you think these fools are the solution. I have no idea why. The solution is realizing that we are still in a democracy, for now, educating oneself beyond the cute little Dem/Rep pony show that exists, and electing competent leaders. Not flippant baseball team owners from Texas and arrogant half term Senators straight from law school.

      • Guest

        Yes, and one of the greatest demonstrations of democracy in recent years, I believe, has been in the OWS movement. To feed, educate and provide medical attention to their own is impressive. But the education and voting systems in the general assembly is true democracy. Not relying on some old, morally corrupt white hair making empty promises so long as he gets bankrolled.

        We need a new party.
        We need to hold organizations accountable.
        We need to take care of our own. We’re one of the ONLY first world countries that does not provide education nor medical care to our people. Our education system is failing, as demonstrated by any idiot supporting Cain or Perry for leadership of anything, let alone a country.
        I truly believe we’re headed into a new dark ages, and OWS are the only people speaking up at all.

      • macgyver51

        There you, only name Republicans, while our president tries to spend his way out of debt. I hope you caught the lack of common sense and logic in that last part. Takes two to tango in our system and they have tangoed it into the ground. As for all of the things you have claimed OWS has done, BS. I’ve seen it in person, its none of those things. The “General Assembly” is laughable at best.The revolutionaries of 1776, the abolitionists, and memebers of the civil rights movements surely look on this and laugh. I would too, if they weren’t so sure of themselves while having absolutely no direction.

      • matt good

        The revolutionaries of 76, the abolitionists and the members of the civil rights movement were mocked and denigrated just like you are mocking and denigrating the occupy movement. You should open your mind and not speak so bitterly.

      • macgyver51

        Those movements believed in something. Thanks, I’ll get right on the mind opening. I’m glad you pointed that out to me.

      • Harlow

        Who let the republican in??

        I think the reason they’re protesting is they don’t have anything better to do. They can’t get jobs, they can’t go to school, they can’t afford homes, etc. – they’re protesting against the government and organizations that created the problems, preventing these people from having better things to do.

        And it’s a little presumptuous to think they all migrated in the middle of a recession; they could equally as well be natives, and further, many traveled from other states to show solidarity, as this is indeed a national problem.

      • Michael Koh

        It’s past a red/blue issue. It affect ALL OF US.

      • macgyver51

        Hooray for giant comments of nothing! Thank you for calling me out on being presumptuous, because I meant every single person there.

    • Alexandra

      How is spending months outside in a park because you can’t get a job, get out of debt, or take advantage of your education being spoiled? This has been the only people have been able to get the government’s attention. “We are the people, so start caring about our needs” – you know? I don’t think asking our government to take care of its people is spoiled at all. I think it is American.

      • macgyver51

        Have you read our constitution or studied the principles on which our country was founded.?They wanted the opposite, in point of fact. They wanted the government to leave them alone, not hold their hands and fix their problems.

      • Nicole Mullins

        And why would we give a government a wealth of tax dollars just to “leave us alone”?

      • macgyver51

        Hard to believe I know, but that wealth of tax dollars didn’t always exist. Government subsisted off what the people gave them and did its job in that regard. When hard economic times hit, people took care of people, not government.

      • matt good

        That is an absurd misinterpretation of the constitution and the federalist papers

      • macgyver51

        There were many that told the original writers of the Federalist Papers that they were absurd.

      • Asdf

        Difference of course being that you didn’t write the Federalist Papers.  But, hey, keep livin’ the delusion!

      • macgyver51

        Doesn’t really make any sense, but cool story bro. Keep those senseless one liners coming.

      • Asdf

        Thanks. I will. I do realize that it doesn’t make sense that you’d put yourself on equal footing to the authors of the Federalist Papers, but you did so nevertheless.

        Let me break it down for you: Matt Good asserted that your  interpretation of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers was absurd. In response you either deliberately or subconsciously drew parallels to the fact the authors of the Federalist Papers were labeled absurd.

        So either you’re claiming they, themselves, are absurd, so therefore your interpretation would be necessarily absurd; or that you’re being misunderstood in the same way they were. Either way, it’s a logical fallacy, and you didn’t address the assertion that your interpretation is perhaps flawed.

      • kaylee

        boom roasted

      • macgyver51

        Yep, thats what I love about my current and parallel generations, its all a show and a game to them. Go back to watching your Jon Stewart and believing that makes you well informed.

      • macgyver51

        It was merely a play on words, referencing one of Matt’s other statements. It wasn’t for you, it was actually meant to be lighthearted. Sorry for the confusion and the time you apparently spent in analysis.

        If you want direct argument then I will make the assertion that neither the spirit nor writers of the Constitution or Fed Papers would support an OWS style movement. Not that they favored tyranny, but the opposite, they favored common sense and standing up in an intelligent fashion. They would look at the system and probably agree that it needs work, but they would then get to work,  not stand around think that the fact that they have a library and stand side by side holding signs with clever sayings- are going to fix anything.

        They believed in drawing clear and researched conclusions about what needed to be done, and then they believed in acting upon it. At no point would any of them think about writing a story like this. They would tell you to swallow your damn pride, its not about you.

        Of course we haven’t even begun to broach the subject of homelessness that surrounds OWS. You have thousands of people going hungry and homeless in NYC alone and they’re completely ignored, if not merely patronized with a single hot meal or two. All the while we’ve got mock universities and General Assemblies being held. Its enough to make a person sick.

      • matt good

        Yeah, but those weren’t the ones who founded the United States, so your point is still moot

      • macgyver51

        Wait, Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, and Thomas Jefferson weren’t part of founding the United States? If thats what you think then this whole conversation might be moot.

      • matt good

        Sorry I’m Canadian, I forgot about those guys!

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, this guy knows where it’s at. The system isn’t fucked at all. Everything’s fine. JEEZ YOU GUYS, everyone knows first world problems aren’t actually problems!

    • Michael Koh

      You really need to watch this:

  • jorogotti

    great. never leave.

  • Wf

    Amazing. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!

  • Sammy G

    File Under: Things I Really Don’t Care About.

    • RG

      Totally agree! Politics and current events? Pfff. Screw that, lay some articles about partying and sex on me!

      • NoSexCity

        Ten of them, all of which talking about how tough our #firstworldproblems are… in the bedroom.

    • Asdf

      File Under: So Don’t Read It.

  • Guest

    this is amazing!!!! keep posting about this please!

  • Courtney Pickard

    A beakon of humor in a pretty serious piece. 

    “one which apparently causes unmarked police cars to hurl themselves at you at full speed, losing control and drifting Fast and Furious-style directly up onto the curb, narrowly avoidingkilling you dead and instead blasting through a garbage can, shattering the front headlights and scattering bundles of grimy New York trash across the road.”

    Loved it! Loved all of it, actually. Thanks for the eyewitness account. 

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome! 

      Hopefully people can see this as merely an eyewitness report of last night’s events, as opposed to some sort of political statement. 


    Ugh I can’t believe I took the time to read this. Good for NYPD.

    • Asdf

      Ugh I can’t believe I took time to respond to this. Good for Jack Cazir.

  • xxx

    This is the kind of article that informs and inspires. Thank you for posting this; you have told a truly amazing story.

  • Jess Hurst

    Excellent article; more eyewitness accounts would be great.

  • Deirdree_lynn

    Amazing article! Good for you. Good luck! This makes me want to go back so badly.

  • Michael Koh

    It seems like the wealthiest men and women are essentially saying: “The poor are getting too independent…. We must teach them a lesson.” Essentially what Ida B. Wells had said, except she quoted white Southerners: “The Negroes are getting too independent…. We must teach them a lesson.”

    • Catt

      “The poor are getting too independent”? No, quite the contrary – OWS protesters are victimizing themselves, which I would argue is entirely the opposite.

  • Anonymous

  • Maya

    Excellent article; thank you.

  • xx

    don’t wanna be a grammar troll, but “whose”

blog comments powered by Disqus