This will be my fourth photo essay documenting the encampment at Zuccotti Park. After embedding themselves within this section of lower Manhattan for well over a month, the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street has developed into a small, albeit extremely controversial, community. While I was walking around the park I did notice that it had developed the appearance of a shanty town, albeit one with certain amenities available to its participants.
There was a medical tent, along with some volunteers rendering first aid:
There were also locations intended for vague, syncretic expressions of religious worship and devotional meditation.
And protest chaplains whose religious denomination went undefined.
The only identifiable religions on display were Islam:
And, interestingly enough, Jews for Jesus, although I hasten to add that some people might describe the latter as a cult.
There were also activities to occupy the more secular segments of the OWS crowd, including singing:
And what has become the hallmark of Occupy Wall Street. Yes, ubiquitous, unrelenting drumming.
There are a number of different component parts of OWS. Such as a kitchen:
As well as a makeshift recycling center and compost heap:
A crude irrigation system:
And yet more recycling receptacles:
For the waste that can’t be composted or recycled, there’s always the trusty standby, long trash bags. There were lots of those.
There were also less malodorous, significantly quieter leisure activities, such as face painting:
Political attitudes ran the gamut the day I visited Zuccotti Park. One sentiment most of the individuals there shared was an antipathy towards corporations and the influence they exercise over our government’s policies.
I can only infer that this fellow is a Keynesian:
There was even someone carrying the derisory flag that has come to embody Adbusters, which served as the original impetus for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
One of the chief targets for criticism at Zuccotti Park was the Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the ruling, it nullified many of the unconstitutional restrictions upon 1st Amendment protected speech enacted under McCain-Feingold. During my time spent with WNYC reporter/host Mike Pesca, who recorded an interview which you’ll hopefully hear later this week, I debated the finer points of protected 1st Amendment activities with an OWS supporter who believed that campaign finance restrictions should take precedence over an individual or organization’s right to engage in freedom of speech and association, and even suggested a new Constitutional amendment to that effect. That view, unfortunately, was commonly held throughout the park.
Others took aim at the legal concept of corporate personhood:
While the encampment at Zuccotti Park has tried to coordinate with other organizations throughout the nation and world, most of the individuals I saw were Americans. There was, however, a very interesting table that appeared to be supporting the Marxist-Leninist opponents of the despotic, Iranian clerical regime led by Ayatollah Ali Khameini. In addition to the somewhat problematic use of Che Guevara as an iconic revolutionary image, I found some interesting paraphernalia, including an original flag from the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and photographs highlighting the oppression Iranian dissidents suffer at the hands of the mullahs.
However, there were many people at Zuccotti Park who took a distinctly different point of view, and I feel compelled to present their side of the story as well. The Federal Reserve came in for particular abuse:
And corporatism was derided by some occupiers who felt that the solution to government-inspired failures could not be found in yet more government intervention.
Some political expressions took a more blunt form:
There was even a light-hearted tweak of the chief preoccupation of OWS activists.
Perhaps the most interesting signage I spotted this weekend belonged to a man supporting an unconventional presidential ticket.
The most quotable sign I identified is one that, alas, I wasn’t able to capture on camera. It simply read, “Regulate Government.”
Food for thought.