Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I saw

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
~From The New Colossus, Emma Lazarus, 1883

Yesterday at the protest I saw:

A curly haired guy with the rebel alliance tattoo on the back of his neck, who guided us to where the pile of donated food was being handed out. The young man had just been released from prison that afternoon. “They took all my stuff. Everything. I have nothing left. But hey, I’m free!” he shouted, skinny arms in the air.

A wild-eyed action medic repeat the black and red cross image that was pinned to his clothes with permanent markers on his hands. I watched his hands tense when he talked about how the police used a chainsaw to take down the medic tent. He said there were doctors and a patient inside it.

A young man with waist-length dreads being heartily thanked by a well-dressed elderly couple from the other side of a police barricade.

A crowd human mic someone asking the cops tough questions, “Who is your leader? What are your demands? If you have no leader and you have no demands, you are occupying this park illegally!”

Sergeant Shamar Thomas, walking up the south side of the park in his almost-familiar giant stride. Every time I see him, he has this look of wonder in his eye, like he has entered the Land of Oz and couldn’t be happier.

A golden retriever puppy whose name means “illuminated” in Spanish.

A woman get hauled away by police. Older son and I got shoved by the photographers that were trying to capture a photogenic moment.

Two trumpeters playing, “When the saints go marching in” while drummers drummed. Several of them had drums, two just had drumsticks and played on the metal barricade. I had to join in: I thumped my metal wedding ring against the bars in my own demanding rhythm. Older Son thumped his body against the barricades until I made him stop, afraid he would tip them over and create a moment no one wanted.

One of the silk-screeners who said that they lost all their ink in the raid, and about half their t-shirts.

A guy with a red leather beret wearing a leather coat that said “The American Dream is Over.”

A Vietnam vet with an American Flag and foul language, shouting at the police to let us into the park.

The seeds of a new Peoples Library—a thin woman with thick glasses guarding a small canvas bag with about six books in it on the south side of the park.

DeShawn, who found us right after Older Son doubled over in stomach pain (it turned out it was the early stages of diarrhea, but I didn’t know that then)—a very tall, soft spoken action medic who answered Older Son’s questions about goggles and teargas, when we were guarding Jose’s medical bags while the previous guards went on a coffee run. We were well away from the park, but he stopped and started asking Older Son questions and gave him some Maalox and a space blanket to distract him from the pain.

Tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of our teeming shore. The homeless, tempest-tossed.

Hearts can be lifted, even when lamps are stolen in the dead of night.

1 comment:

  1. Forgot! Also chatted with a woman who lives nearby and she said that the neighbors supported OWS and she seemed upset that the news got it wrong.