We’re not Occupying Zuccotti Park. We’re not Occupying the corner of LaSalle & Jackson. We’re Occupying Wall Street, which is a mindset, not an actual place.
Personally, I hate it when politicians link Wall Street and Main Street. It’s the kind of lazy writing you hear in Poetry 101. In the spirit of lazy writing, here’s a poem I wrote, just now…
Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Clean Zuccotti Park
It Stinks like a Zoo
For 11-years, I was lucky enough to live in the East Village of NYC, a block and a half from Tompkins Square Park, on Saint Marks Place. When I first moved there, walking through Tompkins Square Park was a right of passage.
In 1991, it was known as Tent City. We defended the rights of people to live there. In the neighborhood, it was a point of pride. Eventually, Mayor Dinkins disagreed. He tossed everyone out of the park. The police put up barricades.
Of course, we marched. Of course, we protested. Of course, there were speeches, arrests and atonal songs by Lou Reed. Looking back, what we didn’t know, at the time, was how wrong we were. There’s nothing liberating about the stink of piss.
A few years later, after the hoopla died down, they tore apart Tompkins Square Park. They re-planted grass; they made the playground so kids could fall without getting seriously injured; they put in a dog run; they scrub-a-dub-dubbed every inch of the park until the smell of inhumanity was replaced with scent of mulch.
Families came around again. Bands played on weekends. After work, neighbors would throw down a blanket to read a book and share a bottle of wine. The park became a place for everyone to enjoy, instead of a bunch of freeloaders to “Occupy.”
If #OccupyWallStreet is to become a movement, a real movement, for change, real change, it can’t get caught-up in one specific place. Look at Dr. King. He didn’t Occupy the Washington Mall. He marched there, gave a speech for the ages, and as a result of feverishly “Occupying” an unjust mindset, re-imagined the American Dream.