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On Eviction Night
On the night of the eviction. I had left a spokes council to head back to Global Revolution studios. The streets looked wet, and I called a good friend of mine form back home. After 3 months of Occupy Wall Street, most of my personal relationships were frayed, and I had been trying to mend my relationships old friends not in NYC. As I walked I saw lines of NYPD vans stream past me towards the park. It wasn’t unusual, until I noticed that all the vans were full. Each van had cops pressed shoulder to shoulder in them.
I told my friend I had to go and called back to the park to advise members of the media team what I had seen. They told me everything seemed fine back at the park, but I decided not to go to the studio and jumped a train to Liberty…just in case. When I arrived at the park it was cool. The air brisk, and the usual wanderings of people milling, people had taken to coming into the park later and later, some not even staying at all as the temperatures dropped. I checked in with the media team I was working with and they reported nothing unusual. I relaxed. Every night was paranoia. Every night was our last night.
That night I sat on the steps next to a young women named Tess. Tess, and I spoke back and forth and a NYPD officer in a community liaison blue windbreaker joined our conversation. We laughed, and I remembered thinking that regardless of our laughter he’d be on the other side of the club when the time came. I always think that when I interact with police. That regardless of their nature, when the time comes , or the order, they’ll easily pull the gun, the taser, and let the baton smash into you. The cop answered his phone and then turned to us and said he had to go, that they needed him to clear all the cars around the camp for some reason. I think about that weekly, maybe, daily, I don’t know. Often, how if I had been just a little smarter I could have put it all together and warned the camp. I could have told them what was coming, the pieces are so clear now, but then, I nodded and continued to talk to Tess.
I don’t know how much time went past, but eventually a giant truck would pull up on the sidewalk in front of the camp and extend spot lights into the sky and point their blubs at the tents. Tess and I nodded at eachother, I sprinted towards the media tent, and fumbled my phone out of my pocket. I texted a friend of mine who helped start this whole thing, “Raidraidraid” I reached the tent and told the people inside what was happening and grabbed a laptop, batteries and started to get my stream up. Some guy started marching between the tents telling people what to do. He looked at me and said, “You get that video up.” I said, “Fuck you.” He looked shocked and I continuing working to get my stream up, which I did. I remember walking close to the police lines and back.
I explained to people in the aisle between the tents that I needed to be able to move quickly, that they’ll snatch me if I let them, because I had a camera. Someone said, “Naw dude, you’re just paranoid.” The police did in fact move away any press and cameras as many as they could. I tucked myself into the center of the camp trying to pan my webcam around. I received text from friends back home, hoping I was okay, saying they were watching. The stream I put out had over 40k people on it, it was mirrored on Bloomberg News, on BBC, and I remembered thinking about my parents, and being horrified. The scene I broadcasted was hundreds of police tearing down the camp as they worked towards the middle where a hundred or 2 hundred folks held arms together. The police tossed tents over their heads and moved closer. I spoke in Spanish, hoping if my family was somehow watching, that me speaking their first language would put them at ease, I said something like, “We are fine. We are all together. We’ve decided to stay and we’re not afraid. There is only love.” I watched as the police beat at people who refused to let each other go. AS they dragged others out. I watched a young girl scream as a saw cut at the bike lock she used to lock herself to a tree. A cop grabbed my arm and pulled me off a table. I tried to set up my stream to keep working, but they tucked the camera into the bag around my chest. The cops hand crushed my forearm, and I said, “Hey, it’s all good, you got me. Calm down, it’s okay.” And I felt his fingers untense a little.
I was walked out past the screaming girl and sat on a curb. On the street in front of me two men lay in seizure. Their bodies shivering and shaking as police and firemen walked past them, and ignored their withering bodies. This kid, maybe 17-18 was sat down next to me and he screamed, and screamed. His flexicuffs were too tight. “I can’t feel my hands’ They Hurt. Please get them off.” I tried to calm him down a little, knowing that his struggling only was tightening the cuffs. I asked a cop walking by if he’d cut them off, get him new ones, and the cop laughed at us. The kid, turned on the police officer, and tried to spit on him, but by these time he’d screamed all the liquid out of his mouth and only a few white flecks of spit touched the cops pants. The cop kneed the handcuffed kid over off the curb. His head was on the cement ridge at an awkward angle tilted up as the officer leaned his knee into his skull. The officer said, “My wife has to clean these pants.” I asked him what he was doing, I asked, is this reasonable force against someone cuffed, look at what you’re doing. The cop laughed again. I asked, “Don’t you feel bad?” The uniformed officer said, “I feel bad for the curb.” He got up and walked away.
I was lead towards a bus and photographed. I sat at the end of the bus and the people around me helped me cut off my flex cuffs. I tried to get my stream back up in the bus, because I wanted to people to see us. See us all together and how we still had laughter and hope. I wanted that be seen, but my batteries were all dead. I was so frustrated and how ill prepared I was. How this shouldn’t have happened. We were driven to some road and the bus parked as the NYPD officers seemed uncertain what to do next. I leaned my head out of the window of the bus and could hear chants in the distance. I knew people were out there, but I couldn’t join them,..
I haven’t written much about OWS, organizing OWS in that month and half before September 17th, 2011. I think I might be ready to begin now, but I want to start by saying this. I rode a revolutionary wave to September 17th 2011. I road that wave on the shoulders of my ancestors who had struggled in the generations before me. Those who fought for my right to education in a system that had tried to discard us, and I had arrived in NYC seeing that everything my ancestors had fought for was being taken away, not just from Chicano’s but from everyone regardless of skin color, or belief. I ended up in that park, because I wanted a different world. I want a different world. I’m not afraid to tell you that, not now, not then… it’s always been simple for me…I don’t fear death. I fear living a life riddled with regrets. Know, that when the time comes, and the skeleton of this reality collapses around us. I’ll be there, ready to work with you to get us through to a better tomorrow.