The War on Occupy Christmas
New York City can be a real grinch sometimes, especially if you're a protest movement with a history of antagonizing the authorities.
New York City can be a real grinch sometimes, especially if you're a protest movement with a history of antagonizing the authorities. Occupy Wall Street is starting to make its Christmas plans, and as the holiday draws near it's clashed with the municipal and corporate authorities in Zuccotti Park in a couple of ways that really bring out the Scrooge in City Hall. Both incidents have to do with the ban on a whole array of items in Zuccotti Park, which park owner Brookfield Office Properties continues to enforce with the help of the New York Police Department and a ring of metal barricades.
On Tuesday, a couple of protesters tried to bring a Christmas tree into Zuccotti Park, and a cop ended up throwing it out. "The security guards told them to get rid of it, and they said 'no we don't want to, it's Christmas,' and then a cop told them to take it out of the park," so they went and leaned it standing up against the barricade, said Tim Pool, a videographer who documents much of Occupy's activity through a UStream channel. "The cop went and threw it on the curb, next to the street, and they stood it back up, and then another cop came and threw it by the garbage can," Pool said. And that's where it ended up.
Meanwhile, another Occupy group, the Christian-oriented Occupy Faith, really wants to hold a 24-hour Christmas prayer vigil in Zuccotti that would involve food and musical instruments, which are both banned under Brookfield's park rules. The NYCLU has sent letters to Brookfield and the city asking them "to allow the group to bring items into the park, including food, chairs, prayer mats and musical instruments, during the vigil." But so far the company hasn't changed its policy. "Occupy Faith will not violate any of the park rules," the NYCLU wrote. "The vigil will not include camping, erecting structures, lying on the ground, placing tarps and sleeping bags on the property, or anything else that unreasonably interferes with others’ ability to enjoy the park."
But Pool said Occupy was planning some kind of Christmas celebration anyway (though the details are still in the works). On Twitter, Jessica Salinas pointed to a recipe that could add a bit of thematic holiday cheer: "@beardfoundation has a Mace spiced sugar cookie recipe perfect for that #ows potluck holiday party."
Occupy isn't the only group that wants to have a subversive holiday party. There's also SantaCon, which was a pretty spectacularly drunken shit show this year (surely Occupy Faith will not like us comparing them to the band of drunks in red suits that terrorizes the city every December). On Tuesday the downtown community board complained to police that they were spending too much time focusing on Occupy Wall Street and not enough time keeping hundreds of people doing a pub crawl dressed up like Santa Clause from urinating on the street, drinking in public, and generally making a stink. That does start to make the Christmas tree and prayer vigil seem pretty tame.