Nora Connor spent the wee hours of Friday morning in Zucotti Park, waiting for Bloomberg to evict the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Below she documents dawn in the park and the breaking news that the eviction had been called off. Some of the images are dark or hard to see; they all convey the unfolding daily drama of occupation.
6:15 AM Zucotti Park is crowded, almost entirely hemmed in by mobile news trucks and lousy with photographers. The self-cleanup effort continues. It’s clear the pavement has been scrubbed, and the west end of the park is semi-cleared, but there are still a lot of blankets, tarps, sleeping bags and backpacks and more than a few occupiers sleeping. I’m told the consensus plan has been to shift the gear in stages to the areas of the park that are not being cleaned in order to ensure a continuous presence. It doesn’t look like that will happen in time. I’m also hearing of a plan to have a small group of people remain in the park with the rest forming a human circle around it, so I’m expecting arrests and pepper spray as of 7AM.
Cleaning supplies are turning into a useful visual—the press is jumping all over it.
6:20 AM I’m pleased to report that Occupy Wall Street is fully caffeinated at this early hour. This is Zeinab Elnadouri’s coffee cart on the southern edge of Zucotti Park. Zeinab moved to NYC from Egypt six years ago and has been serving Occupy Wall Street for a few weeks now. Pointing into the park, she said “We’re starting to have the same thing all over now—democracy.” The Sharpie scrawl on the plexiglass reads “From Tahrir Square in Egypt to Liberty Park New York!” When I stopped back by later to chat with Zeinab she showed me her vendor ID and pointed to the date—she’d just realized it’s her birthday. Happy birthday, Zeinab!
6:30ish AM Very loud cheers from the northeast side of the park. It’ll take me 10 minutes to find out that the cleaning of the park has been postponed. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra cranks in the western half of the park, plays a few songs and then turns and marches through the extremely dense crowd to the steps on the northeastern edge.
7:15 AM The crowd celebrates victory. Joseph is a medical volunteer. He works as a security guard and told me he’d been ready for anything—luckily the medics weren’t needed this morning.
7:45 AM There’s a visible labor presence here. A group of orange-shirted guys from the Laborers (LIUNA) says they think OWS is great—and that they’ve been hammering on the issues of CEO pay and wage inequality for over a decade, but they think people might finally be really paying attention. I’m seeing SEIU 1199, UNITE, and the Transport Workers Union. TWU Secretary Treasurer Earl Phillips (above) tells me that the Transport Workers, whose contract expires January 15th, are taking a hard look at the MTA’s finances and the amount of money the agency spends on fees and debt payments to Wall Street—reported here at over $1 billion per year.
It never hurts to have the BVM present when one is Occupying Wall Street.
Nora Connor is a filmmaker and multimedia journalist with a background in labor and human rights organizing. She studied religion and anthropology at Columbia and journalism at NYU. She is the 2011 Luce Fellow in International Digital Religion at The Center for Religion and Media/The Revealer.