Editor’s Note: Since being evicted (and re-evicted) from Liberty Plaza, Occupiers in New York started a new encampment in Union Square where they faced nightly closures of the park by police. In response, occupiers have developed a new tactic: sleeping on sidewalks. Some have chosen to sleep in front of banks, others on Wall Street itself. This comes from a twelve-year-old court case called Metropolitan Council Inc. v. Safir which states that sleeping on sidewalks as a form of political protest is protected first-amendment speech. This page will serve as a place for first-person stories from occupy’s newest front-line – the sidewalk.
Last Sunday I spent the night livestreaming occupiers sleeping next to the banks by Union Square. The core homeless population of occupiers had been taking quite the beating from the NYPD since M17. At Union there were random arrests throughout the day, for sleeping, for holding banners, etc. At night the police tracked them and did everything in their power to prevent people from sleeping, leaving them tried and on-edge. People need to sleep! So on Sunday we tried a new tactic for the second time, sleeping in front of banks. Dear Officer Lambardo, a white shirt, tried everything he could think of: picking off people, calling in the community cops to ask if we wanted to go to shelters (a pre-arrest move which didn’t work because we made it known that we were sleeping on the streets for political reasons), Lambardo even detailed cops to each bank with orders to keep their lights on – quite annoying. I followed dear Lambardo (at a distance) live streaming him on his Blackberry for hours during the cold night, no arrests occurred. The next day people returned to Wall Street. Finally a place to sleep, at least for now. On Wednesday I slept on Wall Street, it was great. There was real community, not so many cops, right across from the stock exchange, a priceless view. In the morning, some great outreach. There’s plenty of room, suggest more come down, just be sure to get up before they wash the sidewalk and bring extra food, pizza is always good. -Anonymous-