On Tuesday morning, just a few hours into the post-eviction era of Occupy Wall Street, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tweeted: ‘Could #Bloomberg be a secret Occupy Wall Streeter? He seems to have just revived the movement.’ Official reaction in any form motivates and inspires the protesters. By driving them from Zuccotti Park, the mayor put OWS back into the news cycle, just when major media outlets seemed to be growing bored of the story. The eviction unintentionally pressed a giant ‘reset’ button, solving two intractable problems at once: the growing presence of homeless, mentally ill or unstable people in the park, and the lack of a graceful exit strategy in case the winter weather proved overwhelming. But the first test was clearly going to be the demonstrations on 17 November. If participation was low, it would be spun as proof that the protests were dying out, aimless and unmoored without the home base of Zuccotti Park. In the event, of course, the turnout was massive, the mood buoyant and determined, the atmosphere electric.
On my first visit to Occupy Wall Street, two weeks ago (but it might as well be years, given how rapidly the movement is growing and changing), I sat in on a meeting of the Media Committee. A paper was being passed around, and we were asked to provide email addresses, a list of our skills and the equipment we owned that could be put into service. Of the 35 or so people at the meeting, I informally counted 12 filmmakers, six or seven editors, three video artists, a couple of sound engineers and a director of commercials. The average age was around thirty, and the debate about software, platforms and compatibility was fierce. I dutifully wrote down ‘theatre director’ and listed as skills... um... good communicator? knowledgable about space? strong familiarity with the plays and essays of Brecht? I got the message: these people weren’t fooling around.