I went down to Liberty Square at Zuccotti Park tonight for a teach-in conducted by youth climate activists organizing for #FutureWeWant. When I arrived, a little after 5pm, I was struck by one overwhelming fact: the hyper-militarized state of the streets. There were still some youth activists out from today’s actions around the city, and I wish I had been able to see more of them get on the mic. Their voices are a powerful force in the struggle for climate justice and a sustainable future. But what I saw mostly was an incredible amount of police, many dozens of weapons, and countless gates blocking off access to public streets.

I had been down to this spot a number of times since September. For a location that has served as the central landmark to so many #occupy battles, I expected to see a viable presence on the street. At least a few dozen people on the steps. But the steps were gated off. There were intermittent protesters enclosed in metal cattle shoots. One of them gave me a copy of “tidal,” a journal of occupy theory and strategy published by Occupy Media. But overall, it was getting cold, dark, and empty.

Maybe I should have perhaps been just as struck by the countless New Yorkers and tourists who were streaming by me, taking photographs of tall buildings or hurrying home on rush hour subways from their long work days. But I couldn’t get over how full of NYPD the sidewalk surrounding the square had become. Was the threat of youth climate activists so great that they had to put in pedestrian check points?

The two pictures below show the square on September 30th and tonight, December 16. What will #D17 bring?


~ by Elizabeth Bishop on 2011.12.17.

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