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Sat October 15, 2011
Wall Street Protesters More Savvy Than Sloppy
Originally published on Sat October 15, 2011 11:07 am
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Demonstrations in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement is scheduled today in many cities around the country and around the world. Yesterday in New York, where the protests began, several thousand people gathered in Zuccotti Park, faced possible eviction. But after protestors spent hours cleaning, the company that manages the park postponed its official clean-up. The number of people living in the park as grown, and as NPR's Margot Adler reports, it's begun to resemble a small town.
MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: In Zuccotti Park, you can get a shave from a professional barber, and you can access the Internet at Cafe Libre, a free Wi-Fi cafe that one day appeared out of the blue. There are no tents or buildings, but there is a lot of invisible infrastructure and technology going on here. And things are constantly changing.
CROWD: Late last night, late last night, late last night...
ADLER: Like the human microphone - call and response. Not a very easy form of communication, but now they also have put up a screen to project the words of the speeches from a computer monitor. Jeff Smith is with the Media committee.
JEFF SMITH: It is not the fastest thing, but compared to the existing system, it is actually somewhat quicker, certainly for people that are further away.
ADLER: There's the live stream where you can view the demonstrations on the web from your bedroom. Of course, doesn't that mean you might not go to them? And there are plans for a low-powered FM station so you could hear the meetings from a block away. The food is plentiful, and even sometimes good. The bathrooms are non-existent, except for McDonalds. As for cleaning, so much in the news this week, it's actually been going on all the time. One morning, I noticed a dozen people tying up garbage or washing dishes. Damien Guarniere was using a wire brush on the pavement.
DAMIEN GUARNIERE: Scrubbing the paint off the concrete that was left from people painting on the signs to go march.
ADLER: And suppose you're coming down here and want to pitch in. Anna Mocklar who is putting new liners in garbage pails. She says she normally is an adjunct professor at a local community college. She simply walked up to the sign saying sanitation.
PROFESSOR ANNA MOCKLAR: You find them, you say I have this much time. What can I do? They assign you tasks.
ADLER: Kyle Rucker is on the sanitation working group. He says he's spoken with city health inspectors who walk through, was told not to have people sleep near the garbage cans. Good advice, he said. He's spoken to sanitation workers who pick up the garbage in the evening.
KYLE RUCKER: We found a place that is most convenient for us to bring our trash to. Every evening we try to do a good mop down with environmentally safe chemicals of the sidewalks and stuff like that.
ADLER: Now, you might wonder since this is Occupy Wall Street, how do they deal with money? Michael Fix is with the finance working group. It was chaotic at first, he says; they were deluged with funds and responsibilities.
MICHAEL FIX: 501(c)3, getting a bank account with a credit union. All eyes are on us, so anything we do that's not right, especially finance, is going to be attacked. Who is your accountant? Who do they work for? Who did you get money from? Is it Soros? The stories are run wild before anything even happened.
ADLER: He says more than $150,000 has been raised; some from websites, some in cash, some in checks, rolls of quarters. He collects money every day from jars at the info, T-shirts, and comfort tables. Any working group, say the medical working group, or sanitation, who wants to spend under $100, if it's logical, he's says, they'll get it. Bring the change and bring the receipts. Larger amounts are discussed at the evening general assembly. And where are they keeping it all if not in a huge bank? The Lower East Side Credit Union and the Amalgamated People's Bank, cooperative institutions that are owned and controlled by their members. The protesters reconcile expenses every day. There's a lot of contradictions at Zuccotti Park, using Verizon for the live stream, going to the bathroom at McDonalds. But Fix says if an essential part of our message is equality and fairness and transparency in economics, we better get the financial part right. Margot Adler, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.