We saw ourselves as Pepto-Bismol deep in the bowels of the American and globalized-Capitalist empires, cleaning them out of their systemic and institutionalized diarrhea - corruption, greed, exploitation, war, oppression, xenophobia, violence. And our effective ingredients were participatory democrary, non-violent resistance, creativity, generosity, compassion, community.
It only took a few well-attended populist marches, mass arrests, and well-documented brutal police attacks on peaceful demonstrations for thousands more conscientious Americans to join our ranks downtown. And it only took about three weeks before it had grown so large and unwieldy that I no longer wished to keep a regular presence at the park. Plus I saw the need to occupy my own life and work for peace and justice in uptown Manhattan, Washington Heights. Still, I kept in solidarity with the movement, which by now had become known all across the world as Occupy Wall Street.
I left town on November 10 for my Zombie Music Tour, having planned to share music and solidarity at dozens of shows and occupations across the southeastern US. And it was just a matter of days before NYPD, in a great show of violent suppression, wiped out Liberty Plaza and returned it to a sanitized, lifeless, rectangular concrete plane surrounded by police barricades. I wouldn't return to Zuccotti until mid December, back from the tour; but as I travelled, I indeed visited many more occupations that were still smaller than the one we had held on September 17th. These occupations were similarly resisting police violence, governmental suppression and other social pressures, but their resolve was steeled, even after police crackdowns in NYC, Oakland, Atlanta, and several other large cities. To me they were always very hospitable and generous with their limited resources, and it was always an honor and privilege to sing with them.
Nevertheless - despite all appearances to the contrary - the occupation was not dead. There remained a couple dozen protesters outside the barricades, wielding signs and slogans, keeping the spirit alive, though faintly. I saw a comrade from back in September. He appeared hardened, much more so than I remembered. He caught me up on the goings on of the Occupy movement.
And he explained that Occupy Wall Street was far more alive than I could imagine.
It was December then and winter was beginning to fall upon us here in NYC. The occupy movement was not dead, but merely going into hibernation. There was much left to be done, after all, to bring about the systemic change we had called for in the fall; but first would be needed a season of creative brainstorming, preparation, recruitment, and training. Now the chilly winter days are mostly behind us, our clocks have sprung forward, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and the voices of the 99% are again emerging from the stillness - indeed, the stagnation - of the status quo. We are again mobilizing to let freedom spring!