Saturday, November 12, 2011

It’s hard to see the ‘animals’ of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park from the luxury of a warm office

Jimmy Breslin

Protesters are not the uncooth pack that some would like you to believe they are.

Saturday, November 5 2011, 7:37 PM

An Occupy Wall Street protester braves the cold in Zuccotti Park on Saturday. Protest organizers are preparing the camp for the impending bitter New York winter by erecting military-grade tents and renting portable toilets.
John Minchillo/AP
An Occupy Wall Street protester braves the cold in Zuccotti Park on Saturday. Protest organizers are preparing the camp for the impending bitter New York winter by erecting military-grade tents and renting portable toilets.

I am starting the day reading the paper while I'm walking to the subway to go downtown to cheer a new gathering of the Wall Street protesters. The entire city is just starting to be convinced that these crowds are going to change things and forever. Just follow the numbers and energy of the people.

Still, the people you thought would be first to tell the country all about this are news people. But they have stayed seated in the office. These desks in a warm office save some newsmen from going out to the site where they would have to get cold and push through the crowds of protesters. That is work — and they are not so busy at that.

Instead, they’re telling another kind of story.

The New York Post had a front-page headline on Thursday for the city:

“Enough! Post Editorial. Mr. Mayor, it is time to reclaim Zuccotti Park — and New York City’s dignity.”

The paper’s ownership comes out of Australia and LondonEngland. The owner is Rupert Murdoch, who is friendly with New York politicians who fall down when they get a glimpse of his money.

On Friday, the New York Post runs a front page that screams:

“Occupy Wall Street animals go wild. ...”

I am standing in the middle of Eighth Ave. and after reading the start of this paper I became busy reading other parts while standing there. A bus had to stop dead or leave me in the same condition.

Underneath the headline, a big photo of a bald man in blue throwing a left hand at some much younger guy in the park. Inside the paper, there were two pages showing a fight between two senseless and homeless men. Following were two more pages of people being called morons and animals.

But actually walking around Zuccotti Park, you find the scene pleasant and moderate. The large crowds coming here now are filled with children walking in front of their parents. At the park, Bill Dobbs was found with his transportation, a big black bike. He was with Nikita, who is 44 and looks a lot younger. She was sitting on a desk under a tent as you walk onto the grounds. She works full-time in physical training in the Bronx. Any time she has left, you can find her here at the information desk. Like just about everybody else around the park, she draws no pay for this.

There was a reason to see her and watch her life amid the crowds in this park. There was a delightful energy that ran through it all, and that was important to witness.

There is no question that some of the young women say they have suffered sexual attacks. Walk through the great happy crowd and you find it not perfect toward young women, maybe, but nowhere near the newspaper screams of great molestation unfolding. You probably have more of that happening on Park Slope in Brooklyn.

The mayor we have, Bloomberg, must have said a thousand times that he wants the park turned empty and for a lot of good reasons. The ones using the park are not perfectly good like he is. He is different. He is good. And the mayor has long ago stopped searching his life for perfection because it simply bursts from his head and his body.

On Friday, Zuccotti Park was crowded all day and into night with the young and old, including several hundred who remain in the park at night and stay in low tents of nylon set down in rows. They sleep wrapped in thermal covers.

They were helped to stay warm yesterday by Brian, who is from New Jersey. He sits on a bike on a raised platform like this bike I’m on, a stationary, doing what I am doing now — pedaling without taking a break — and why? The bike creates power to replace the generators they no longer have since the cops came in at night and took them all away because the head cops and fire chiefs and the like announced that the place was a fire danger.

Walk through the park and you come upon what has become a fixture.

Sitting in chairs with their laps filled with wool were two women who had been in this park from the start, 37 days as of yesterday. Here is Marsha Spencer who lives in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. She sits with hardly a word out of her as these big needles in her hands work on thick wool face masks, knitting colorful lines of red and blue into a white background.

Sitting a couple of feet away with the same concentration was Karin, and her last name is hers and not yours. She is from the East Village and knits here every day.

We stop when the sky becomes too dark for us to work our needles, Karin said.

This is molestation? Lawlessness? These are animals? Morons?

That’s another kind of story, all right.

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