UPDATE: NYPD Confiscates Occupy Wall Street's Library
Some of the Occupy folks visited the Sanitation garage this morning to pick up items confiscated in the raid, and it turns out the contents of the library weren't handled with much care. Books are missing or destroyed; laptops are broken; and supplies, structures, and personal items have vanished. The Occupy Wall Street Library Blog is providing the depressing updates.
Early this morning the NYPD cleared out Occupy Wall Street's home base at Zuccotti Park, citing health and safety concerns. Rather than give the protestors some advance notice, they stormed in wearing riot gear at 1 a.m. Naturally, the protestors didn't go quietly.
The NYPD, working in conjunction with the Sanitation Department, hauled away tents, tarps, and sleeping bags, as well as the library. The city-issued eviction notice indicates that all the confiscated materials would be available at a Sanitation garage on W 57th Street, although no one really believed it; bloggers and Occupiers have spent the day lamenting the destruction of the books.
But, hope springs eternal. Mayor Bloomberg just tweeted that the books are safe, and even provided photographic evidence.
That's a relief. This post was initially a polemic against censorship. I know this isn't Fahrenheit 451-style shenanigans, and I know the Occupy movement is divisive, but I'm sure we can all agree that the confiscation of books is troubling, especially in a democratic society. It's nice to hear that they're safe. While the photo only shows off a small portion of the library, here's hoping the rest of the books are there, and not damaged or destroyed from being unceremoniously tossed into dump trucks.
This isn't over. There's already talk of rebuilding the library, as well as the propagation of digital libraries. And this morning a judge issued a restraining order against the city, ordering that the protestors be allowed to return to Zuccotti (although the police haven't allowed it). The legal arguments are currently being heard, and a decision should be rendered shortly.
The People will read again!
Anyway, I'm not going to turn this into a political debate, but I do want to say this: For the past two months I've walked by the park nearly every day and watched the Occupy Wall Street shanty town get a little more crowded and complex. This morning the park was scrubbed clean and surrounded by fences and cops in riot gear. Dozens of emergency vehicles clogged the streets and I got some scary looks from the police when I stopped to take a photo with my phone.
I much preferred the indignation of the protestors, compared to the military zone I walked through this morning.
To leave a comment