Occupy Wall Street Goes to School

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In weekly spring training sessions, protesters are learning new tactics for getting around the police. 

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Julie Dermansky

Occupy Wall Street's winter hibernation is over. As blossoms appear on New York City trees, activists are gathering at their new base in Union Square to launch an "American Spring," though anti-police overtones threaten to drown out the movement's central message. Bloomberg's administration has imposed a 12 a.m. curfew to prevent a new encampment from rising, and demonstrators are responding to the nightly police crackdowns with street theater and elaborate cat-and-mouse games.

For all their irreverence, the protesters are becoming serious about their tactics. Over the next few weeks, demonstrators will take part in hundreds of training sessions in all 50 states. This weekend in New York, activists learned how to form human walls, surround each other in tightly locked circles, and scatter to pose as normal civilians, a technique that enables them to get around police lines before regrouping. Classes in New York will continue every Friday and culminate in a major protest on May 1.

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

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