I wanted to see what it was like to spend the night at the Occupy Wall Street protest; talk to the people after hours, see if there’s any activity, check out how they hunker down for the night.
There’s been a lot of talk about plans to stay through the winter, so tonight’s rain seemed like a good, early test of their determination. Granted, if NYC has a repeat like last winter’s mess, I’m not so sure you’ll be seeing too many people digging through snow banks to protest bank bailouts. Then again, what started as a handful of demonstrators near Wall Street has caught the world’s attention. Persistence seems to pay off.
Between the jackhammer, occasional cigarette plume, and constant rustling of plastic tarps on the sidewalk, it’s not exactly a peaceful slumber. Nobody seems to mind, though.
And picking a spot to set up camp is definitely an art form. My producer David and I wandered around for a good twenty minutes before putting down stakes. We were kicked out of one spot after being told that a homeless man had been laying claim to it. We respectfully moved on to some open sidewalk beneath a street lamp.
Before that, we talked to a woman wearing panda pajama bottoms, on her way to get a midnight snack. She was from Wisconsin, and had been protesting here from the very first day. I asked her what her friends and family thought about her being hundreds of miles away from home, protesting for more than a month. She said her kids — 19 and 20 years-old — missed her, but were proud that she was standing up for what she believes in.
Even in the sticky drizzle and grimy haze of the city, one thing is unmistakably clear tonight. Each of these protesters might believe in something different, but they are united in believing they’re making a difference.