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Denunciation and Disruption: The Vision That Drives Occupy Wall Street
Posted on Oct 25, 2011
Credico is right up in the cops’ faces and they’re knocking him around. “Get your fuckin’ hands offa me,” he’s screaming. “Get your fuckin’—” He disappears in a wall of cop, and I’m figuring he’s a goner, headed to the same van where Vincent was hauled, still smiling that tall smile.
Instantly, another leader steps in where Vincent stood, holding up the same secret messages with a raised fist and fingers gesturing. And the march floods always north.
Somehow Credico is free. We’re moving side by side faster now, almost at a jog. Times Square is not far. He’s been with the occupation for 19 days, not sleeping there but joining in the general assemblies to plan, to make friends, to make noise, to march. “And I still can’t figure it out. I mean, who the leader is.”
At 46th between 6th and 7th, the beast is unleashed—the cops can’t keep it from the streets. “Whose streets, our streets,” goes the chant, and I find myself yelling it. A catcalling jubilation, hundreds of people running, not colliding, orderly in their own fashion. The flood surges onto Times Square at 5:30 p.m. A long standoff at 7th Avenue and 46th ensues as the protesters are corralled in barricades. The cavalry is called in, cops in leather on horses stamping. The protesters push against the barricades, the cops respond with flanks of horse flesh, slamming them back. A young Hispanic man is cracked across the face with a billy club, the bone broken above his left eye, the eye turning bloodshot. His hands are shaking, he’s not talking, he’s in shock. He’s carried into a trinket store where the clerk demands that he leave. Someone buys a toy Statue of Liberty and the clerk changes his mind and offers bandages that fill with blood.
An older man, nattily dressed in a blue dinner jacket with gold buttons over a white tennis sweater, his gray hair cut razor short, says he was the guy who carried the bloody-eyed kid into the store and who bought the Liberty to stave off the angry clerk and who later got in a cab and rushed the kid to the nearest hospital. He says his name is Ken and he runs a business consulting firm of some sort. He wouldn’t tell me more—didn’t seem to trust me with more. When he spoke, he sounded out of his mind with rage. “This is Nazi Germany, 1938,” he’s telling me. He’s talking about the execution of the members of the Federal Reserve who have “hijacked our money system” and are “traitors to the Constitution.” “We’re not fucking around anymore,” Ken says. “We’re debt slaves. Let’s take our country back. Ninety-nine percent of the people in this country are hardworking. Why are we letting the 1 percent fuck it up for the rest of us?” Disgusted, spitting the words.
A woman nearby is crying. Her name is Shannone Rhea, 40, a brunette, burly, tough-looking. “They’re fucking trampling people with the horses,” she’s saying. She cuts the sobbing and gets serious. “Not sure how many people were hurt. It was sick.” She’s got tattoos on her arms, goggles around her neck—for mace, for tear gas, for whatever violence was to come—and says she has a daughter, 19, somewhere out there facing off with the cops. “My daughter,” she says. “She keeps getting arrested. She’s been arrested four weekends in a row. Resisting arrest. Disorderly conduct.” Proud but also terrified saying it. “God, I hope she’s OK. I don’t know where she is, she’s not answering her phone.”
Rhea lives in Islip, N.Y., in the suburbs of Long Island, a stay-at-home mom. She lives with her in-laws. “You know, I don’t wanna live with my in-laws—I mean, they’re great, but I want my own house so bad. We can’t even find a place to rent. My credit is shot and I’ve got student loans and medical debt. My husband works. Hard. A heavy-equipment mechanic. Repairs highway construction vehicles.”
Rhea was up at the frontline on the barricade when the cavalry pushed in. She was knocked to the ground. The horses were almost atop her. She thought she would be crushed.
A giant of a man, a former fire department grunt for 10 years with ladder 149—his name is Joe Hunt—is haranguing a line of police near where the horses had been brought in. A wild, ravaged, cracking sound in his voice. He’s maybe 6 feet 6 inches tall, and the cops regard him fearfully. “Stand up for the brothers! Stand up for the brothers!” he’s screaming. His voice is anguished, going hoarse. He doesn’t stop. “Why are you protecting Bloomberg? Why are you protecting his people? They’re robbing you, too! Stand up for the brothers! Stand up for the brothers!” Cameras converge on all sides—the media locusts scrumming, flashbulbing, waiting for—wanting—blood. I ask Hunt why he’s here. “As Marcus Aurelius says: ‘Reflect the light to the next generation.’ ”
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