Excerpt from "Take This Book: The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street"

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An excerpt from Take This Book: The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street, an extended essay by Melissa Gira Grant, forthcoming in print, epub, and as a Kindle single. Available to support on Kickstarter.

Instagram Photo by Melissa Gira Grant

Remove everything but the books. The librarians who were most versed in direct-action tactics—from participating in various peaceful and spirited disruptions, at street protests against the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, or while bringing cheer to Wall Street police barricades as a roving brass band—had worked out a plan for what they would do in case of a raid. Whoever was in the library would grab the laptops, the archives, the reference section—countless signed editions among them—and ferry them to safety. 

"Philosophically," Jaime, one of the librarians, said, "the books stay with the occupation."

There had been a dry run, too, the night the Occupiers prepared for the city to evict them. On October 13, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Brookfield Properties, which legally owned the park, wanted to clean Zuccotti, and the Occupiers anticipated that the mayor would also send in the New York Police Department to remove them. So the Occupiers took this order both graciously and defiantly: They would clean the park themselves, and early in the morning, when the cops and the cleaners were to arrive, the Occupiers would refuse to leave. Someone posted an invitation to Facebook on the day of the cleanup, calling people to gather before Wall Street's opening bell, and to bring brooms and mops and pails. All day, wearing ponchos and latex gloves, Occupiers scrubbed the stone steps of Zuccotti, swept the grounds, and straightened their camp's stations. As night fell, some of the camp's infrastructure was 

 

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