As of February 15, 2012, the encampment at Military Park has been officially evacuated. It just doesn’t look the same without tents. At least the monuments, symbolizing the park’s history, still remains.Sometime yesterday, a sanitation worker gave the few remaining occupiers at Military Park heads up that they (Dept. of Sanitation) were preparing to come to clean out the encampment with a police escort at 11:30pm. It was a final attempt at reclaiming the park, but wanting to do so in a peaceful manner. Me and others received word and decided to go down to Military Park to confirm what was floating around on twitter and Facebook, but to also show standing support to those who refused to leave.
Close to midnight, a cop on the payroll of Miles Berger, CEO of the Berger Organization, LLC, pulled up with a smile on his face asking if we planned to leave. The Berger Organization is a privately owned real estate company based in Newark. It is involved in the development and management of residential, commercial, and hospitality properties throughout Northern New Jersey and New York City. There have been about three confrontations with employees of the Robert Treat Hotel, a Berger Organization property. Berger himself had sent the city council a letter asking that we be evicted from Military Park and had been on a campaign with Mayor Cory Booker to push this eviction.
Well, last night, shortly after midnight, 12:15am to be exact, just as we were giving up on the warning of a police raid, we piled up into an occupier’s vehicle and just as she put her vehicle in drive, creeping up on the side of us were fire vehicles, police wagons, sanitation vehicles, the works.
A wave of fear and then an adrenaline rush came through my body. We all exited the vehicle and some occupiers came out of their tents to face the authorities. I truly have to give it to the remaining few. They showed no fear and held their ground to the very end. One occupier even demanded to law enforcement to not touch his tent and they complied, but stated that if he didn’t take his tent down they would have to follow their orders. There were about 3 fire vehicles, 3 police wagons, a special task force unit, about 7 unmarked cars, 13 firemen, a team of sanitation workers with 2 dumpsters, and a police force of about 40 or more.
A New York Times journalist and a group of camera phones were documenting the event. We were expecting batons, mace, tear gas, the works, but instead we got a pretty peaceful group of enforcers. Not sure if there’s such a thing. Even occupiers originally from OWS stated that they felt they were in a Twilight zone. They just couldn’t understand why the cops didn’t come with aggression and why the majority of the occupiers that was once there quietly left. I guess every encampment has its own culture.
As tents were being taken down and thrown into dumpsters we began chanting:
“Tents down, crime up!”
“Tents down, homicide up!”
“Tents down, burglaries up!”
“Tents down, carjacking up!”
“Tents down, schools down!”
And then we gave the officers a round of applause for a job well done.
An occupier informed members of the fire department that in Belgium firefighters were water hosing police officers because of austerity cuts and an increase in the retiring age. Others shouted that we will look like Greece a year from now.
As things began to quiet down a city employee made arrangements for five of the willing occupiers to spend the night at a for-profit shelter in Newark. I’m not sure what arrangements were or will be made following the day. Then there were the few who insisted on displaying an act of civil disobedience by not leaving the park’s grounds found themselves outnumbered and heavily persuaded to leave. They reluctantly walked away, not looking back at was once their home for two months.
The movement continues….
Some occupiers will venture on to find encampments in other parts of the country while others will move deeper into the city and Occupy the Hood. Some occupiers will continue working in working groups, focusing on specific social and environmental issues such as the Newark public school system, foreclosures, homelessness, alternative energy, and the prison industrial complex.
Peace and solidarity,
Tobias A. Fox
Alinkage Public School, A Holistic Approach to Learning
“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle and try to change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called.” —Buckminster Fuller
“The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” —James A. Baldwin