Occupy Wall Street Plans Its Next Move

NEW YORK, NY -  NOVEMBER 16:  An Occupy Wall Street protester confronts the NYPD when they enforce a no sleeping rule in Zuccotti Park on November 16, 2011 in New York City. Police had removed the protesters from the park early in the morning. A judge ruled that protesters are allowed back to the park but won't be allowed to camp there. Hundreds of protesters, who rallied against inequality in America, have slept in tents and under tarps since September 17 in Zuccotti Park, which has since become the epicenter of the global Occupy movement. The raid in New York City follows recent similar moves in Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images Photo: Allison Joyce/2011 Getty Images

Around 2,000 activists marched single-file back into the newly tentless Zuccotti Park last night, and spent the evening in a dramatic general assembly, forging a strategy for the coming days. "We are rebuilding," an opening speaker said. "But we lost a lot ... people don't know where they're sleeping tonight." According to many organizers and occupiers, Zuccotti Park will remain — somehow — the heart of the movement.

Last night, organizers ranged from optimistic to obstinate. "If you lost a little bit of spirit yesterday, you're in the right place to get some of it back," said one speaker. "They're going to regret messing with us!" shouted another.

At times, security at the park's edges stopped protesters from bringing in food, water, large bags, or musical instruments, but the rules became more lax as the night wore on. The NYPD, which is taking heat for its media-blacked-out raid on Monday night, stopped people from lying down in the park or standing on benches.

The general assembly discussed finding a permanent space, perhaps indoors. Some protesters, according to Reuters, are even spinning the eviction as a welcome "reset button": a chance to reevaluate and refocus the occupation.

Nevertheless, presenters have agreed that a core presence will remain at Zuccotti, even if protesters cannot sleep in the park. "I will stay awake all night," declared Jackie DiSalvo, a 68-year-old union leader and early occupation organizer, who offered up her Harlem bed to needy occupiers. A spokesman explained to the BBC that the protesters would stick around, fight for the right to lie down, and expand to "another encampment," if possible. But after a booming 7 p.m. general assembly meeting, the crowd thinned drastically.

By Wednesday morning, the Times reports, "there were no tarps or sleeping bags — just a few dozen people clustered together or slumped on granite benches, shielding themselves with whatever they had: umbrellas, rain coats, pieces of cardboard and garbage bags."

The occupation's legal team spent much of the previous evening planning ways to fight or overturn the court order upholding the restrictive new rules in the park. Activists were told the police have only given them two days to reclaim any property lost or taken in the Tuesday-morning raid, when 220 people were arrested. The legal team said at least 59 won't get out until tomorrow, and will be processed at 100 Center Street, starting at 8:30 a.m. Some organizers overheard on the live-stream plan to march to that location in the morning.

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