Memoir of a War Resister—A Novel of the 1960s

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Zuccotti Park, New York City

They were the occupiers, almost two hundred people, reclaiming public space to protest economic inequalities, corporate corruption, and greed. Since September 17, 2011, these occupiers lived in tents pitched in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district in lower Manhattan. The tents surrounded the kitchen that served hundreds of meals a day with food donated by thousands of supporters. On one side of the park was a media tent and a library with 5,000 donated books. On the other was a fully equipped medical tent.

These occupiers were part of the 99%. Every day they, along with throngs of supporters, walked the streets of New York City chanting slogans about the 1% who owned the majority of wealth in the country, confronting the police.

Every evening the occupiers gathered for General Assembly. They lived as a true democracy, making decisions together through consensus.

Matt stood on a stone wall, the first to speak at General Assembly that night. “Mic check,” Matt said. Since it is illegal in New York City to use amplified sound on public property without a permit, five people standing near him repeated his words so the crowd could hear.

“Mic check,” Matt said again. His human microphone repeated, “Mic check.”

Matt stopped every few words so his words could be echoed through the crowd.

“We will not be deterred (echo) by the illegal actions of the police yesterday (echo). Our jailed comrades will receive legal representation (echo) by The National Lawyers Guild (echo). Meet at the media tent after General Assembly (echo) if you want to do jail support (echo). Tomorrow we march again to let the cops know (echo) we will not be intimidated by their brutal tactics (echo). We are not afraid (echo). The Direct Action group will meet following General Assembly (echo) at the northeast corner of the park (echo). Check the board by the library for the list of other working groups (echo) and for updates about the march tomorrow (echo).”

Matt stepped off the wall. As he walked away he heard the next announcement. “Mic check.” “Mic check.” “The library group needs help (echo) cataloging the new books that arrived yesterday (echo). Meet after General Assembly by the Library (echo).”

Matt headed to his tent. He lay down on his sleeping bag, put his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.

The hypnotic beat of drums startled Matt awake. General Assembly was over. He took a drink from his bottle of water, poured some on his black bandana and used it to wash the sleep out of his eyes. He slipped the bandana through his belt loop.

Matt headed to the northeast corner of the park. As he walked past the kitchen he snatched one of the remaining chocolate chip cookies donated by a local restaurant.

Matt pulled out his phone and sent a text to his mom. "Choc Chip Cookies not as good as yours. Marching tomorrow.”

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