“I’m calling you to update you on what we did,” Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson told the chair of the Lower Manhattan Community Board. “We came in the middle of the night.” Thus ended the occupation of Wall Street, after police executed Mayor Bloomberg’s order to clear Zuccotti Park of tents and protestors around 1am Tuesday morning. After a series of temporary injunctions and contradictory judicial rulings, protestors are no longer camping at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration. They trickled back into the park during the day, but no one is allowed to lie down. As winter sets in, more than one person is probably relieved not to have to do the sleeping on the cold ground part of civil disobedience. Yet the clearing of the park feels undeniably like the end of something, and it raises plenty of questions. “Is it over?” is not the only one.
If the gap between rich and poor seemed like it was widening a bit more slowly this morning, it was probably because Occupy Wall Street is still going on. Exactly how it goes on remains a matter of conjecture, although certain non-televised journalists are beginning to pierce the veil. Michael Greenberg’s longish tour of Zuccotti Park in the New York Review of Books provides us with a slightly less vague picture of the movement than what we’ve gotten so far, including their use of “the people’s microphone.” Because city ordinances prohibit the use of amplification devices, public speakers at the OWS demonstration have their words repeated by the crowd. It’s a big ol’ objective correlative for a protest that has coalesced out of Twitter, Anonymous and maybe a few emails from the insufferable Adbusters, and now has to grapple with the problem of propagating a message when no one has been designated to speak first.