promise yourselves this won't be the case: an elegy
Samantha Hinds: We first met in Zuccotti Park in early November 2011. Douglas Rushkoff: Oh right, remember? Back in the good old days of protest and revolutionary action.
The only thing I’m afraid of is that we will someday just go home and then we will meet once a year, drinking beer, nostalgically remembering “What a nice time we had here.” Promise yourselves that this will not be the case.
We tore down the library today.
It was harder, and sadder, than I had anticipated.
As the final structure that stood as a link to the original occupation that brought us all together, its continued presence was both inspiring and problematic.
It kept people coming back to that park. It also kept people coming back to that park.
Our shiny new "resource center," a nearby office space where our rent is sponsored by the SEIU, leaves me conflicted. And yet--who can complain that we now have a well-equipped place to continue to organize as a loosely linked set of affinity groups? We can go forward within our respective issue-silos--prisoner support, foreclosure defense, campaign finance reform, lobbying transparency, anti-oppressive action--while deepening community power by reinforcing and promoting each other's work across those silos. It's a good thing that we have the opportunity to move ahead, and it's a good thing that we've finally taken down the final shibboleth that mandated some degree of anchoring in that park. It was unnecessarily limiting, and has been so for some time. It's worth noting that, as we hurtle toward June, the bustling tent city off K Street has now been gone for nearly as long as it stood.
It also goes without saying that our library, like the library of OWS now having its day in court, stood for something more than books in crates in a park. Freedom of speech and sharing knowledge for its own sake, sure, but--poetry by Bonus Marchers keeping us warm through the snow, battery-powered lights illuminating sheltered debates through cold rain, theory strengthening resolves, facts and stats from donated academic texts bolstering arguments with passing lobbyists and bankers. On the day of our raid and de facto eviction in early February, as I and others struggled to hold our ground against the NYPD's interstate riot shields, our librarian remained the sole Occupier allowed behind the police line. Even the cops understood that while they might remove us, the library was something beyond the people who slept off 15th street. While some cried on K Street, many wondered where they would sleep, and lots got drunk and sang "Solidarity Forever," our key librarian stood surrounded by riot police in the rain and swept the tent.
Near 4 months from that date, with that same librarian ready to pack it in, the time for that wonderful place has come.
I have said my goodnight to the General who watched over me on those few nights I spent in McPherson Square. I suspect I'm later than most.
What matters most is what comes next. Will we allow a diversity of tactics? Will we support the efforts of those working for legislative reform while we simultaneously offer solidarity to those who reject that framework? Will we work to coordinate the many voices asking to be heard first in our communities? Will we work to unite our struggles against police repression, financialist hegemony, and the destruction of our world?
The answer, of course, is yours.