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Denunciation and Disruption: The Vision That Drives Occupy Wall Street
Posted on Oct 25, 2011
I meet a man named William G. Bores, who has brought his daughter Anna, a wide-eyed ninth-grader. Bores is a union man, an executive board representative of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians. “The companies are outta hand,” he tells me. “They’ve won. We’re down to 272 members from 1,200 when I started 25 years ago. We’re working now 10 months without a contract. The first time I went down to Zuccotti Park, I wanted to kiss these kids.” I ask him about the cops. “I’m the son of a city cop—my dad was 20 years at the two-five in East Harlem in the ’60s and ’70s. I’m the brother of a state cop. The godson of a major crimes detective.” Bores has nothing against cops. What he doesn’t like is cops going after the wrong people. His son, who is studying labor relations at Cornell, slept at Z Park for days. “He got his start when he was 8 years old, when I was on the picket line against Disney, locked out. He was leafleting and Disney nearly got him arrested.” Bores picks up a bucket, a makeshift drum, and Anna now plays, banging away.
I turn for a moment, and when I look back, plainclothesmen are shooting photographs of protesters—gathering face-databases, who knows—and Bores decides to shoot photos of the cops shooting photos. This is not well received.
An undercover pushes him, cursing: “Get the fuck outta my way.”
Bores, a tall man, fit, stands his ground. “Come on,” says the undercover, baiting him. “Come on.”
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“Come on,” says the undercover, beckoning with a finger. Bores stares the cop down, unmoving. The crowd surrounds them, the cameras flashing.
Down the block on 46th Street, a big black Marine, Sgt. Shamar Thomas, in fatigues, with his medals from 14 months in Iraq displayed, confronts 30 cops, who stand stone faced, not knowing how to deal with the unhinged veteran. “It’s not a war zone,” Thomas is yowling, sounding like a madman. “These are unarmed people,” Thomas screams. “It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people. Leave these people alone! These are U.S. citizens! U.S. citizens! My mom did a year in Iraq, my father was in Afghanistan. If you want to kill and hurt people, go to Iraq.”
“Just walk down the street please,” says a White Shirt in a megaphone, but Thomas doesn’t move.
“I can’t speak, y’all wanna shut me up! There’s no honor in this. How do you sleep at night? There is no honor in this! No honor! No honor!”
Bores watches as Thomas stands down the cops, and then the two of them hug.
Later I learn that at roughly this same juncture Credico, a block away in Times Square, is attacked by the cops and beaten badly and taken away in cuffs, looking scared. He says it was at the hands of one of the White Shirts he had mocked all the way up 6th Avenue.
Filmmaker Michael Moore now passes by at 46th and 7th, schlumpy and shambling, as fat in person as he is on film, trailed by what appears to be a personal videographer to capture his every fart. Most of the crowd ignores him. Moore doesn’t matter here. The VIPs don’t matter here. (A few days later, at Zuccotti Park, Jesse Jackson showed up, and so did Congressman Charlie Rangel. It was a fine photo op for Jackson and his entourage. Most of the kids in Z Park shrugged. They could give a shit, and they wanted him to go away. When Rangel made his appearance, he “looked like a robot,” says Jeff Smith, 41, who was formerly in advertising and public relations—he concluded his business was “pure evil”—and has been nose-leading the media for the occupation. “Or an alien. Or on safari. He seemed to need to be led around, waiting to be approached and have his hand pumped.”)
At 46th and 7th, the people’s microphone cues up. A simple human technique that works like this: Someone wishes to speak, they cry, “Mic check!” And the crowd responds, “Mic check!” The speaker intones, barely audible, and the crowd repeats the words like a Greek chorus, the effect being that the speech is made by all, the speaker only as powerful as his language.
Above us, the vast inhuman billboards of Times Square, the extravaganzas of epileptic light—the looney-tune advertisements (a girl parades in underwear, a girl laughs and laughs because she’s gotten the holy grail of underwear); the Bank of America sign, its blood-red rich neon; the Dow’s ticker its usual gibberish of numbers that mean nothing for this crowd. Then, a news ticker: “Occupy Wall Street goes global.” The occupation has marched in 1,500 cities across the planet, and in 100 U.S. cities. Hundreds of thousands of people united against world corporatocracy.
A voice, small and cracking, begins: “Mic check!” A roared response, the crowd ready, the billboards and the idiot light shows receding, made irrelevant: “We want to salute—”
“We want to salute!” answers the people’s mic.
“Our brothers and sisters—”
“Our brothers and sisters!”
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