By Mike Buffington
SUNDAY OCT. 30 UPDATE
Came back to Zuccotti Park this afternoon to see what had changed since I was here Wednesday. As a weekend day, tourists were out in force and the area was more crowded than in the week.
And it was a wet, stinky mess. It rained Thursday, then got cold Friday and snowed Saturday. The little park where the Occupy Wall Street protestors are encamped is surrounded by tall buildings, so it doesn't get direct sunlight. The result is a bunch of very damp tents, tarps and sleeping bags... And people.
The local press reports that the park is also being invaded by the homeless, drunks, dope dealers and others who are not really part of the protest movement; to be honest, I couldn't tell a difference. Media reports say that the police department is encouraging the thugs to go to the park, perhaps hoping to spark a confrontation that would give them a reason to clear the area.
I spent around two hours walking into the wet park and listening to conversations. I got the sense that the movement is fraying; perhaps it's success at drawing attention has been it's weakness, too. Too many people, too close together.
Sunday it was a freak show as odd people seemed to have taken over. With Halloween looming, you have to wonder what will happen......
All was quiet Wednesday in Zuccotti Park, the site of the Occupy Wall Street protest. Well, not really quiet; an ad-hoc drum band was banging a steady beat on the west side of the small 2 acre park. But it was calm. A sea of blue tarps covered most of the area, but there are small pathways that wind and flow between the encampments.
There are special areas set up like a very small town. There's a sanitation area with brooms; a first aid tent; a small shrine area for some vague spiritual expressions; an information table and of course, a media area.
Actually, the protestors aren't on Wall Street; it's a couple blocks away. Wall Street itself and several side streets at the heart of Wall Street are now blocked off from traffic; and police, both on foot and horseback, are everywhere. Most look bored and talk among themselves. The sidewalks along Wall Street itself are jammed; many are tourists who are curious about what is happening.
At the top of Wall Street proper, the iconic bronze statue of a bull that is the symbol of the area is surrounded by metal gates to keep people 5 or so feet away. But it looks like the bull had been caged in. The word "rodeo" comes to mind.