Dancing for Joy on Foley Square

When I was coming up from the subway, before I could see the street, I heard them: the music leading them forward and the voices.  As soon as I got off onto Canal Street, I could see a mass of the people who were marching from Union Square to join with those already on Foley Square.  The head of the large march had already turned onto Lafayette Street before I could get there.  The police on motor scooters and on foot were beside themselves trying to get the marchers out of the street, but when there are that many, it is not possible.

I was on the sidewalk and turned down on Lafayette, the police just left me alone.  They diverted the march to one of the cross streets a few blocks below Canal and had them march toward the east side of Foley Square.  I just kept on down Lafayette.  A 65 year old white woman, even with a No Torture button, is not profiled as dangerous.  They just let me go on down to the Square.  Had I been Muslim or Black, I would have been herded and perhaps stopped.  Shameful.

When I got to the Square the contingent was already beginning to meld into the group on Foley Square, which was barricaded off. Why are we always penned up?  More about that later.

The Rude Mechanicals Orchestra

I headed for the music and enjoyed the Rude Mechanicals Orchestra. All the people around me were singing with them.  I especially loved turning around to the police for the chorus which included “Whose side are you on?”  People I knew filed by and the long, long line of the marchers I had seen on Canal Street continued to crowd in.

A beautiful young woman with tightly braided hair stood next to me and we talked.  She had had the misfortune of being evicted and told me that story–which included some cruelty on the part of the law enforcement personnel, as well as the banks.   She and I heard the drum circle somewhere after the Mechanicals had left our area, so we went in search of it.  Though she ultimately left, I stayed with them for the rest of my time time.  A number of us danced and danced and danced.  I texted George, who is out of town, that I was, as he had said when we were on Times Square, “dancing to the music of freedom.”

Finally, the bathroom situation that I encounter at OWS events became an issue.  Some commentator on the OWS had remarked this week that other countries provide public toilets everywhere.  I have personal knowledge of that from living in Europe and South America.  I remember a hilarious conversation with some of my International Ballroom Dance competitor friends from years ago about public toilets.  From countries of the former Soviet Union, they were appalled that there are no public toilets in the US.  The police who are on duty at Liberty Square are given free use of the toilets in the Brookfield property adjacent.  The protestors are not.  I was remembering my lower Manhattan search for a restroom in the middle of the night when I stayed at Liberty Square all night.  It is really an issue.

As I was leaving, I gave in to a desire I had had since singing “Whose side are you on ?” to the police.  A line of them were hanging crow like on the barriers as I was leaving.  I looked right at one near the end, a sweet looking man, and said to him, “You are on the wrong side of the barriers.”  He looked sheepish and did not deny what I said, kind of nodded his head.  He listened intently as I said that he would one day wish he had joined OWS; that I did not underestimate the difficulty, that he probably had a wife and children and a house payment and needed a job.  That it would take real courage to take his stand on the other side with us, but that it was the right thing to do.  I reminded him that a former police commander had done that today and been arrested, but was going to continue to side with OWS.   I told him that he really belonged on this side.  I also said that one police officer might not make much difference, but what about forty, or two hundred, or two thousand?  I asked why he didn’t try to get others to join him. I reminded him that people from the military services were joining and it made a difference.  He and his colleagues could really make a difference.

I decided that if I am going to be profiled “safe,” I might as well take advantage of that.  This policeman was not unwilling to listen to me, and his fellows did not interrupt us.

Eventually, I went on off in search of a restroom and then home.  There was to be a festival of lights on the Bridge, which I hope went well.  Though the OWS website reports some arrests, it also reports a library on top of the Brooklyn Bridge and a General Assembly on the Brooklyn side.

Headed from Foley Square to the Bridge

The whole day was filled with peaceful protesters ( though not always peaceful police, especially this morning on Wall Street), from Wall Street to a number of subway stations where people told their stories of being evicted and otherwise abused by the banks, to Union Square where the students gathered, to the giant festival on Foley Square where at least 30.000 of us converged. And other cities around the world were doing the same in solidarity with us.  It was a glorious day.

I loved being with these people and feel so grateful that this is happening.  The beautiful young woman, who doesn’t live very far from me, actually, who had been evicted from her home, had a great word. “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.”

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: