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  • Ken Ilgunas

A tour of Zuccotti Park

Today is my fifth day at Zuccotti Park (or Liberty Plaza). The Occupy Wall Street Movement is getting bigger and bigger. Every day, it seems, there are more wannabe occupiers wandering in wearing backpacks and carrying bed rolls. For the most part, though, the people at Zuccotti are mostly visiting onlookers. And each time a new visitor comes by, I note a smile of amusement. (There are, after all, a lot of ridiculous things to be amused with here.) But I also detect a sense of enchantment. Many are inspired by the movement. For just sitting on my pack, I’ve had at least half a dozen passersby “thank” me for being here. Several have offered food.

Anyway, here’s a tour of the park….

There are many activities throughout the day. There are meetings, workshops, dining hours, performances, speeches.

There are a lot of impromptu performances. Here’s a four-piece bluegrass band.

Some occupiers from Montreal traveled down to NYC and put up this banner. In front of the banners, occupiers put their names on a sign-up sheet to perform music.

Occupiers and anyone who wants any get free food. Mostly, it’s simple fare like break and peanut butter, but I’ve had some incredible stuff like vegetarian lasagna, spinach biscuits, pepperoni pizza, bagels, plus chili, coffee, tea, water, etc.

There are a lot of educational workshops. Everything from meditation to leadership. Below, the Indian male and the woman in the red scarf–both economics professors from Columbia–teach us about the Federal Reserve and give suggestions on how to radically change how our economy works.

There’s a growing OWS library. Occupiers can freely take anything they wish and bring it back when they’re done.

There are two medical tents who treat people injured in marches or people with common illnesses.

Spiritual gathering. Each pair would “rise with consciousness” and lower “with peace.”

There is a drum circle that plays almost around the clock. From afar, they sound like heavy construction machinery.

Here’s the kitchen area.

Many occupiers have put their stuff in plastic containers; others wrap it up in tarps or large plastic sheets. We are sleeping shoulder to shoulder. It would certainly help if we had a larger park.

Many are living in cardboard box contraptions like this guy.

In the bottom left is my sleeping bag. I’m sleeping atop a tarp. The clear plastic (which I got from the comfort station) will be used if there’s rain. Luckily, the weather has been perfect since I’ve been here.

My view from the sleeping bag.

The last two nights many tents have been erected (despite being illegal), so I decided to follow suit and put up my little one-person Eureka.

There are lots of jobs the occupiers take up. This guy and I grabbed some brooms and dust pans.

Port-a-potties are banned from the park, so we occupiers must rely on local businesses. I’ve been going to a church and a nearby McDonalds. The wait is often 15-20 minutes for the men’s restroom.

If there’s any impression I want to leave with you, it’s just how diverse the crowd is. All races are represented. There are crazy freak out here who rail against Jewish people and who get high at night. But, for the most part, they are just normal people fed up with the state of democracy and want to do something about it.

Peter Schiff stopped by to claim how the 1% is doing us all a favor.

Local sanitation union stopped by.

Cops are everywhere.

The other night, parents brought their kids to camp out. There were probably 20-30 kids sleeping next to parents in a “child safe zone.”

Everyone is documenting the experience. The number of cameras is incredible. Just for carrying my backpack, I’ve been interviewed three times by visiting media outlets.


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