On the Scene at Occupy Wall Street
Sleeping bags, yoga, few blacks and a visit from Kanye in a Maybach.
Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where Occupy Wall Street has taken over, is like a campsite. There are people occupying every inch of the 33,000-square-foot park a few blocks from Wall Street. Some spend the night in sleeping bags on the ground (tents are not allowed); others come by just to spend the day.
It serves as a base camp where they organize the movement, hold meetings and, most important, live. A makeshift kitchen prepares food donations and dishes them out. A media center has been set up to blog, live-stream and tweet. It's powered by generators and, of course, solar panels. There is an area for sign making, an area for yoga, live music, a lending library and a clothing-donation center.
The reason the protesters can stay there 24-7 is that it's private property and there is no curfew, so technically they are not breaking the law. But Zuccotti Park -- which, before it became private, was ironically called Liberty Square -- is not where the actual demonstrations, rallies and marches take place. Those go on in other parts of New York City such as Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, where more than 700 were arrested.
So, just how many blacks or other people of color are involved in the movement? It's hard to say, because no one keeps count. The first Saturday, before the mainstream media really began to pay attention, about 15 percent of the demonstrators were people of color, according to Nelini Stamp, who has been there from the beginning.
But when it came to sleeping in Zuccotti Park that first night, Sandy Nurse, who has also been there from the start, says there was only a handful. So the best answer is that on any given day, the number of blacks involved changes.
When the labor unions joined in, the number of African Americans increased; when there was a Haitian-American march from Brooklyn, the number also went up. Both Stamp and Nurse, who were on Al Sharpton's radio show when he broadcast from Zuccotti Park, say there is outreach going on to involve more people of color.