This Saturday will be the one-month anniversary of the massive protest that followed Occupy Wall Street's eviction from Zuccotti Park (and four months since Occupy Wall Street began), and to mark it the protesters plan to occupy another space in Lower Manhattan. The new encampment, planned for Duarte Square at Canal and Varick streets, picks up where a group of protesters left off on Nov. 15, the day Zuccotti got raided. They plan to have a big rally with musical acts, then they say they'll enter the privately owned park and set up a new Occupy camp.
If you remember, sometime after they left Zuccotti the morning of Nov. 15 and before they were allowed back in sans tents in the evening, a group of protesters marched up to Duarte and broke in, pledging to set up camp there. Cops quickly forced them out, arresting several (including a few photographers and reporters), but they've been plotting a return to the site ever since. Occupy has been unsuccessfully pressuring Trinity Church, which owns the property, to let them camp there. Now they plan to go in without permission in an action they're calling Re-Occupy. "We’ll make them decide whether they’re a real estate organization or a church, a place of sanctuary, said Patrick Bruner, an Occupy spokesman.
The plan is to hold rally with "big-name musical acts" to attract a crowd, Occupy organizer Mark Bray said. But he wouldn't say which bands they were booking. "I don’t think any of them have been made public yet." Once they amass enough people, they plan to enter the fenced-off patch of land, which is about the same size as Zuccotti. They're bringing tents, kitchen supplies, the library, and all the other accoutrements recognizable from the occupation of Zuccotti.
But this time the cops, and the church, know what to expect. A church spokeswoman hasn't yet responded to our request for comment (we'll update when she does), but someone who answered the phone at Trinity said she was familiar with the plan for Saturday. Back in September, Zuccotti Park owner Brookfield Office Properties surely didn't know the protesters who set up camp there one Saturday mid-month would be the spark of such a huge movement -- and a huge headache for them as landlords. We're guessing Trinity and the New York Police Department will show a little more resistance to Occupy's planned encampment on Saturday.
"Basically, the point is that, regardless of how Saturday turns out, we think the occupation of public space is an important stimulus for the movement, for spurring dialogue, and for keeping the issues in the public eye," Bray said. If they do get a foothold in Duarte Square, Bray said the occupiers will try to make the camp a little more organized. "We have a town planning working group that got going and started to organize the space once things were underway and the tents were set up" in Zuccotti, he said. That committee has a plan "to map it out so that there’s a sleeping area, an area for food … There’s talk of having more big tents and fewer smaller tents." And yes, the drummers are invited.