The brief re-occupation of Zuccotti Park and its swift re-eviction are both previews of the season to come. With numbers augmented by warm weather, St. Patrick’s Day’s festive atmosphere and the Left Forum conference (the hundreds of panels of which took place at nearby Pace University), the protesters who took to Zuccotti Park to celebrate six months of Occupy Wall Street sent out a mass text on Saturday evening, reading “OccupyNYC: Liberty Square is being RE-OCCUPIED! 500+ people and growing! Come on down! Bring blankets & food!”
Occupy Wall Street’s message: prepare for a radical spring. Chants of “a-anti-anti-capitalista” were more frequent and more broadly based than I had ever heard at an Occupy Wall Street event, suggesting that the movement has begun to coalesce around an ideological principle. “Anti-capitalism” may not be the most specific philosophy, but it belies proclamations like Bill Maher’s “they don’t hate capitalism; they hate what’s been done to it,” whatever that means. The group also engaged in a raucous and sprawling “Simon Says”-like activity that helped acclimatize protesters to forming a fortified human wall for “soft blocks,” indicating a more militant, confrontational (yet still nonviolent) attitude brewing among the occupiers.
They got the chance to test out their newly acquired skills not long after the game concluded. A small group of protesters had put up what police were calling a “structure,” which consisted of a dozen or so unfurled cardboard boxes, draped over a banner hung between two trees. This provided occasion for the New York Police Department’s own tone-setting action. The NYPD’s message: prepare for a violent spring.