Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street crowd blankets Zuccotti Park with kindness

Tears in the eyes of a protester after stranger brings him warmth

Originally Published: Sunday, November 13 2011, 2:00 AM

Marsha Spencer knits in Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street protest.
Marcus Santos for New York Daily News

Marsha Spencer knits during Occupy Wall Street protest.

I am among the protesters at Zuccotti Park for the start of the weekend. There is an important reason for today and that is tomorrow and the days that will follow because they are steps towards real change in this city. This is the place where it all started and now this stirs from the city to the state and out to the country. And soon coming everywhere as sure as you breathe the air.

Across the country political protesters put out an energy not seen recently. In New York, by all measurements, their support is in numbers that will be suffocating for anybody standing against the movement.

Why? Because we have too many easy rich and too many stumbling poor. Clearly the evidence grows that the populace will not abide this much longer. This is the judgment found in many magazines and newspapers except one — one owned by foreigners from London and Australia, most of them flagrantly dumb as a (New York) post.

Right now as I walked through the crowd at Zuccotti Park, here was Chris Reider, who will be 50 next month. He is from Freeport, on Long Island. To get here was a bit of a tussle with transit seats. He is 6-feet-6 and weighs a smart 345. He is a security man for the park and does absolutely anything, from cleaning up with a big broom to brooming any unruly. We don't hurt nobody, he guaranteed yesterday.

Then there is Karin Hofmann in a chair against the fence at the edge of Zuccotti Park on the side that runs along Liberty St. She is knitting with a big needle. She works on scarves for the protesters, or anything for the upcoming cold, and does it from earliest morning until the dark shuts out her ability to keep going.

Sometimes, she says, “the police put the car lights on us and the glare is too much for me to see. I stop and go home.”

The glare comes from police vehicles parked in a row on the other side of Liberty St., their noses facing the park. By count in the afternoon there are 14 patrol cars, 11 trucks of various sizes and one motorcycle. There is no need for that intimidating fleet, nor has there been any need for approximately forever.

This overreaction of the police reflects the most foolish fears of the irreverent young that rise from the old with stiff limbs and brains creaking and minds misremembering.

In a chair by the fence, knitting away, was a young woman whose name we leave out because of our kindness. What's your name, ma’am? She answers, “Florida.” I ask, where are you from? She answers, “One roommate.” The interviewer moves on to a lively woman one chair over.

While knitting, Karin Hofmann testified to a happening on a patch of the park just behind her chair:

“It was about 10 last night and, as I said, it was too dark to knit so I left. While I was gone, one tall guy who was outside the park somewhere and got arrested for being alive came back here but had no place to sleep. He turned around looking and saw nothing. He was so exhausted that he drops to the ground and goes asleep. He had nothing on for the cold.

“When he woke up, about 7 or so, he had a good thick cover over him. He was standing there with a blanket wrapped around him. Don't know who left the blanket. Somebody at night had seen him and got a blanket and came back and covered him. The one who did that left no name. He just brought a blanket and went back into the night.

“He still had tears in his eyes when I saw him. He told me about it. He is a tall, grateful guy. Somebody who caused all the great thankful emotion just brought a blanket and did not wake the poor sleeping guy. The guy who put it over him let the blanket speak for the act.’’

What was his name? I asked the knitter, Karin.

“I don't know the man who was covered. I don't know who left the blanket.”

Isn't that nice? Wonderful. Things like this happen around here.

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