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Denunciation and Disruption: The Vision That Drives Occupy Wall Street

Posted on Oct 25, 2011
AP / Mary Altaffer

By Christopher Ketcham

(Page 2)

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.


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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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By Raoul, October 25, 2011 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

Enlighten? Whom? The masses who couldn’t care any less about any of this. Perhaps it is YOU who should study a bit of history. Most, if not all, protest movements ending in success were started by a very SMALL amount of people. Besides, from the comments I’ve seen elsewhere, the masses are already alienated by this magnicent group of people since the masses buy into the lies spouted from the corporatists. I stand by my suggestion - disrupt the parade for openers. It will inspire those of us living in reality regarding the economic mess we’ve been pushed into.

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By SarcastiCanuck, October 25, 2011 at 6:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Finally,someone to articulate what is going on there and what the people are pissed at.The people out there also finally have thier individual voices heard.Please bring us more of these frontline pieces and what the grunts on the front really think.

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By ardee, October 25, 2011 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

First, when typing my post there were no previous comments…honest. wink

Raoul, October 25 at 5:23 am

Perhaps you might study up on effective methods of protest prior to suggesting a course of action that will surely alienate rather than enlighten. Are you unclear on who or what is the enemy here?

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By ardee, October 25, 2011 at 5:27 am Link to this comment

It is an honor to be first to post my sincere admiration for this restoration of our American Democracy as embodied by these kids.

As these demonstrations spread across this nation we will surely see more violence from our police forces, more propaganda from the rulers of this nation decrying the protests as “un-American”, vilifying them as “commies"and “anarchists” as if those really were insults.

More to the point, as these demonstrations spread they will educate and enlighten, gain converts among those who are not political, and see more and more among those on the fence participating.

Perhaps, as some have intimated, winter will chill the protestors and end these marches and sit ins. Perhaps the movement will take other forms until Spring returns, bringing with it another round of a national outpouring of protest against the economic inequality and obvious disparity between the power of the people vs. the power of money in government.

This is only a beginning.

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By Raoul, October 25, 2011 at 5:23 am Link to this comment

Know what would be really great! How about disrupting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade? The parade always is nationally televised so maybe we could draw more supporters into our cause. All the protestors have to do is march alongside or even inside the various parade groups.

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By madisolation, October 25, 2011 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

Excellent piece all around. From the crowd to the White Shirts to Charlie Rangel, you encapsulated the movement. Please write more.
Is Credico okay?

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