Sweeping the Park, Sweeping the Nation

Hands and Brooms at Occupy Wall Street

Yes, that's a broom in the air.

By Ayesha Adamo

Everyone has heard about the occupation.  Everyone has seen the Youtube videos of police arrests and celebrity interviews.  But on the eve of eviction, in the sometimes-pouring rain and thunder, in the middle of the night…there is another story to be told.

This is what you don’t get to see or hear as much about: the simple beauty of the exhausted, damp and nameless pushing brooms in a slow moving swarm from one end of the park to the other, here in the evening’s damp haze made shimmering by the remaining lights from the buildings above.   This is when the celebrities and their spotlights and agendas are nowhere to be found (except that we were sweeping with none other than Santa Claus himself, all dressed in red).  During the quiet moments, everyone’s a leader and no one’s a leader.

Part of me was thinking with concern about the runoff contamination from the cleaning agents in these suds, as we were mopping along a stream of soap bubbles, leaves, bits of salami and abandoned hair elastics, but it also seemed to be a necessary evil.  It’s likely that the cleaning effort had a big impact on the city’s decision not to evict the protesters.Occupy: Sleeping in Liberty Square

Throughout the night and into the morning, truckers would drive past and honk their horns loudly in solidarity, which was always met with cheers, no matter the hour. We slept on the plain ground covered with only a plastic bag to keep dry because the plan that night was to minimize the amount of sleeping bags and bedding in the park. As 5am approached, a girl came by giving out dry socks to people.  Others passed around Sharpies to write the phone number of the lawyers on their body in case of arrest.

More and more people were showing up at the park, and by 6am, it was a sea of bodies as far as you could see in any direction—so far out that any statement over the people’s mic needed to be repeated in three or four ripples.  So many faces, so many lights!—from cell phones, candles, video cameras…But when the breaking news came over the crowd—the news that the cleaning/eviction had been canceled—this enormous group was so unified that the words needed no repetition.  From the cheers of joy alone, everybody knew.  And everybody knew that they had just experienced something absolutely historic, I dare say absolutely spiritual.


Occupy Wall Street: Crowd 10/14/11

2 Responses to “Sweeping the Park, Sweeping the Nation”

  • mick:

    yu got it baby

    Another poem; a fighting, lyrical, sharp edged, poem that turned me on and inside out

  • connie 1:

    Great to have an inside view the mood and the movement. Also there is something so dignified and inspirational about the people performing that cleanup.

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