If your only exposure to Occupy Wall Street was last year's occupation, protests, and arrests, the recent cooperation between cops and Occupy Sandy volunteers would probably come as a surprise to you. It came as a surprise to them, too. Police haven't gone so far as to praise Occupy on the record, but "sources" told the New York Post that it was thanks to all those volunteers and the big aid center they set up in Coffey Park that Red Hook didn't see the same kind of jump in post-Sandy crime that plagued the Rockaways and Coney Island.
"This crisis allowed us all to remove the politics and differences we had to do our job, and come to the aid of the people," one source said. Another credited the bevy of potential witnesses as a deterrent: "'We had all these potential people who could call 911, in a heartbeat,' said the source. 'All the volunteers were potential witnesses.'" Activists, for their part, sounded just as shocked:
Kirby Desmaris, 26, an Occupy Wall Street activist and resident, said Red Hook has felt safer after the storm-- and that she'd had the surprising experience of working in the same room with the mayor's office, the NYPD, and the National Guard.
"It was intense, it was working, and it was awesome," Desmaris, a volunteer coordinator for the Red Hook Coalition, said. "There was a shift in the energy in the community."
The New York Daily News called photos of police working with Occupy Sandy volunteers "jarring," but suggested the group "has found its stride in service." We're not holding our breath for a long-term lovefest between the cops and occupiers, but they've made a convert out of one key city player: When protesters met the mayor on a trip to the Rockaways last weekend, all he had to say to them was, "you guys are great." What is this, Bizarro World?