Occupy 2.0: One Month After Raid, Protesters Look Beyond
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First Posted: 12/16/11 06:53 PM ET
Updated: 12/16/11 08:42 PM ET
Shortly before the New York Police Department forcefully
evicted Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park
on Nov. 15, The Huffington Post spent 24 hours surveying
life in their tent city. One month later, with the tents
long since slashed open and thrown away and almost every
sign of what happened there erased from the park,
HuffPost surveyed those same protesters to see whose
occupation continues and who has moved on.
But as protesters gear up for Saturday's "Occupy 2.0"
and the three-month anniversary of OWS, they're also
looking beyond Zuccotti. And most still say the movement
is more than a moment.
'IT'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE'
On a bright, brisk Saturday morning in November, Katy
Ryan, 35, marched with hundreds of Occupy protesters
from Zuccotti up Broadway, beyond City Hall to Foley
Square. Ryan's 8-year-old daughter, Mary Jane Thorne,
held her hand and marched alongside.
They'd traveled from Jersey City to take part in the
march, organized in conjunction with a campaign to
encourage people to transfer their savings from large
financial institutions to community banks and credit
"I want her to see what it is to be an active citizen of
her country," Ryan said during a quick break. When asked
what she thought about the march, Mary Jane looked
bashfully at her mother, then at the ground. She did
voice her opinions on another matter, however, when they
resumed walking. "My sock is so annoying," she said,
yanking at the offending footwear. "It won't stay up."
The marchers spilled over the sidewalks of lower
Manhattan, stalling traffic. The driver of a paralyzed
SUV honked his horn, while passengers stuck their hands
out from beyond tinted windows and made peace signs.
It was the first protest for Mary Jane, whom her mother
calls MJ. "I put everything to her in the simplest of
terms," Ryan said of her daughter. "I did tell her about
the bailouts, and how the average person is suffering
more due to irresponsibility by the banks and our
government." Later in the day, MJ appeared on the OWS
video livestream, sticking her tongue out at each bank
as she marched by.
Little over a week before the NYPD raid on Zuccotti
Park, Ryan speculated about the future of Occupy Wall
Street. "Of course, I hope something more tangible comes
of it," she said. "I think we've only seen the
beginning. It's not going anywhere, even if they did
come in and dismantle the park."
In the month since police did just that, slashing tents,
trashing books and arresting bus-loads of protesters,
Ryan has become more involved in OWS. She says she
visited the park the morning after the raid to see what
was left and found herself galvanized.
Ryan has since joined Occupy Wall Street's "direct
action" working group, which currently meets in
community spaces and office buildings within a few
blocks' radius of Zuccotti -- which she and other
protesters call "Liberty Square."
The NYPD raid may have provided the jolt that Occupy
Wall Street needed, Ryan said. A month ago, she had
grown frustrated with what she saw as stagnation: a
packed, stifling encampment beset by people more
interested in photo ops than protest. "They made what we
were all passionate about look ridiculous from the
outside," she said.
With those hangers-on mostly gone, Ryan said, it's been
easier to focus on "day of action" events. Most
recently, she and her daughter visited Brooklyn's East
New York neighborhood as part of a protest that occupied
a foreclosed home.
But for Ryan, those events have been fewer and farther
between as the holiday season has approached. A
freelance makeup artist and hair colorist, she still
manages to make meetings two or three times a week
during "mom-allotted hours." Mary Jane spends half the
week with her father -- Ryan used to spend those nights
in the park.
"This time last year I was working at a salon for the 1
percent 10-12hrs a day," Ryan said in an email Friday.
"My old schedule wouldn't have allowed for this, and who
knows how my old employer would have responded
considering the clientele."
Still, she plans to make time for Occupy 2.0, the next
major OWS event, scheduled for Saturday.
"We are re-occupying," Ryan said in an email. "I'm glad
I didn't put my sleeping bag and tent back in storage
Ryan said Friday that MJ will be attending the new
occupation, carrying a yellow balloon identifying
children of Occupiers and wearing a beloved T-shirt she
made at an art station in Zuccotti. It features two
scenes, as Ryan describes them: "In the first scene it
was the banks stealing our money. The second scene was
her strongest Pokemon taking it back and giving it to
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