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Thu November 17, 2011
At A Quiet Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street Prepares For Big Protests
Late at night on Wednesday, protesters at Zuccotti Park in New York were outnumbered by police. But every now and then a new protester would come into the park and just stare at the space like they were looking at it for the first time.
Jo Robbin, 29, was one of them. One of the first things she did as soon as she made it past the security check point was pull up her sleeves to show the red markings the plastic ties had left her.
She pointed toward one end of the park, where the kitchen used to be. A slight rain was falling, which the flood lights that sit at the park's floor illuminated and made look like specs of snow. The kitchen, said Robbin, was where she locked arms with other Occupy Wall Street protesters to try to stop police and sanitation workers from dismantling the encampment.
Robbin was arrested and Wednesday night, Zuccotti park was a changed place. The tents were gone, the library was gone, most of the people were gone. Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the eviction of the protesters in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday.
But many of the people who weaved in and out of the park said they were ready to be arrested again on Thursday, when Occupy Wall Street plans a series of demonstrations beginning with a march toward the New York Stock Exchange at 7 a.m.
Robbin said she had joined the protest because she worries about her 10-year-old son. She said she worries that she doesn't have the money to pay for his college education and that by the time he grows up, he won't have access to a decent job.
"The government I was taught about in school doesn't exist," she said. Zuccotti Park was picked by the protesters for good reason. It's a small, urban park surrounded by tall buildings. Just across the street, there's a big Bank of America branch.
So when Robbin spoke about who the government listens to, she pointed to the tops of the buildings. She said she joined the Occupy Wall Street movement to demand "drastic changes in the way we are represented."
On the other side of the park, was a couple in their 50s. Dawn Thompson and Mark Wood said they travelled from their farm in upstate New York to Brooklyn to look for painting jobs.
Thompson has been at the park off and on, she said, since the occupation started two months ago. Back in 1999, she said, the couple refinanced their farm for $47,000. The jobs stopped coming and they fell behind one month; the payment ballooned the next month, so they fell behind yet again. That has gone on for months and she's at a breaking point. She also says two of her kids went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and getting them the medical treatment they need has been a an exercise in jumping hoops.
"Everything in this world is a fight," she said. Both Thompson, 53, and her husband, 52, don't have health insurance and don't have a retirement account.
The plans for Thursday, include quite a bit of civil disobedience. In fact, Mother Jones reported today that some of the members of the Occupy Movement were getting trained for how to "gracefully get arrested."
Thompson said she's never been arrested. But she will be at Zuccotti at 7 a.m.
"I'm ready," she said. "I'm ready to stand up for what's right."