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Liberated Autonomous Manhattan.
In a century, community organizers will still be debating what to call Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza/Liberty Square. The surrounding skyscrapers will be covered with luxuriant tomato vines hanging from rooftop organic gardens. Electricity will be generated by solar panels and fermenting compost. Inside, the skyscrapers will be humming with intense conversation at the Occupy Education Graduate School of Revolutionary Studies, open to anyone willing to teach everyone wanting to learn.
Visitors to the park will meander through meticulously maintained sidewalks that wind in fractals through authentic tarps and wet sleeping bags from the early 21st century. Scent generators will alternately waft herbal cigarettes, sandalwood incense and mildew into the breeze.
In the center of the park will stand a 100-foot statue, cast from the bronze of the long forgotten Wall Street bull that was melted down in 2014 and recast as a 5’1” woman in a windbreaker, waving a big red flag. On the marble pedestal, it shall be carved: THE UNKNOWN ORGANIZER. And below it there shall be some beautiful words, maybe a sonnet, written about October 15, 2011, when The Unknown Organizer, who looked at a distance to be in her 30s, led a contingent of 500 brave revolutionaries from the 10,000 massed in Washington Square Park to defend 20-odd people who were being arrested for the crime of withdrawing their own money and closing their accounts at Citibank, one of the most corrupt, heartless and stupid institutions in all of corrupt, heartless and stupid Wall Street.
It will be written that the 500 volunteers followed The Unknown Organizer from the center of Washington Square Park to the sidewalk at the southern entrance where she waved her red flag in a “Halt!” gesture and asked, “Hey, does anyone know where LaGuardia Place is?”
Somebody did know, and we marched for a few minutes east and south to a Citibank branch where a couple dozen cops, decked out in their body armor and black uniforms and riot helmets, were standing in the middle of LaGuardia Place nervously tapping their extra-long batons.
Suddenly the riot squad didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. “Are we supposed to face the bank where we’re arresting people for withdrawing their own money?” they seemed to be asking as they turned around and around. “Or are we supposed to face these lunatics on the other side of the street who are shouting that they want to save our pensions while Mayor Bloomberg wants to cut them?”
Their fat, red-faced supervisors in the white shirts didn’t know what to do, either, as we screamed, “The people united will never be defeated!” After several minutes of consultation, the police turned as one and faced us. We continued to shout, but I noticed a certain shift in mood (mine, anyway) from defiant exhilaration to “Oh my god, I’m about to lose a hundred points off my SAT scores to that guy’s riot baton.”
We had stopped, we were blocking the sidewalk, and that put us just outside the law. The fat, red-faced supervisors knew it, and they were about to give the order to charge when The Unknown Organizer waved her red flag and shouted, “Move out!” Which we did. It was a strategic retreat, though. It was orderly. It was giddy with triumph. We had confused the enemy. We had defied the enemy. We had planted the seeds of dissension in the enemy by letting the enemy know that we, not Mayor Bloomberg, were their true friends. And we had escaped. A perfect, non-violent guerilla action.
Marching back to Washington Square, The Unknown Organizer disappeared into the crowd and I never saw her again. Let history note that she was brave and smart and that 500 of us were proud to follow her into battle.
There were actions like that all over the city all day.
I marched continuously from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., from the bottom of Manhattan to Times Square, where I pounded a plastic paint bucket with a drum stick and chanted with 20 or 30,000 other good Americans who wished to express their hatred of our economic system. The police had us penned in barricades, but the tourists lined up to watch us by the thousands. The best show in Broadway that night was us, and we were free, in all senses of the word.
Suppose Occupy Wall Street was a Saturday night poker game including Mayor Bloomberg, police chief Ray Kelly, the CEOs of Wall Street’s biggest firms and one hairy, lice-covered hippie who can barely move because he’s been sleeping on cement in the rain. On the first Saturday night, the hippie arrived at the game with no cards and no money and walked away with Zuccotti Park. On the second Saturday night, the hippie got pepper sprayed on camera by the police and walked away from the game with the New York media in his back pocket. On the third Saturday, the police ambushed the hippie on the Brooklyn Bridge, and he left the game with the world’s media in his wallet. On the fourth Saturday, the hippie took Times Square and launched a thousand other occupations around the world.
This past Friday morning at General Assembly, it was announced the Occupation had a fund of $150,000. On Sunday, the fund had grown to $300,000. If Occupy Wall Street keeps expanding at this exponential rate, it will have more money than Mayor Bloomberg in 34 days.
On the 35th day, I want them to commission a statue to The Unknown Organizer in The Park That Has No Agreed Upon Name in the Liberated Autonomous Zone formerly known as Manhattan. Then they can take the rest of their money, buy Citibank, put it on a big garbage scow, and dump it 50 miles off the coast of New Jersey.
CHARLES M. YOUNG is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new award-winning independent online alternative newspaper. His work and that of his colleagues JOHN GRANT, DAVE LINDORFF and LINN WASHINGTON, JR. can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net