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Occupy ‘bat-signal’ creator explains how he brought it off

By Muriel Kane
Friday, November 18, 2011 18:51 EDT
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As Occupy Wall Street protesters were walking across the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday evening, a mysterious series of images flashed across the facade of the Verizon building, located near the East River, starting with a circled “99%.”

“LOOK AROUND / YOU ARE A PART / OF A GLOBAL UPRISING / WE ARE A CRY / FROM THE HEART / OF THE WORLD / WE ARE UNSTOPPABLE / ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE … OCCUPY EARTH / WE ARE WINNING / IT IS THE BEGINNING OF THE BEGINNING / DO NOT BE AFRAID / LOVE.”

Boing Boing tracked down the signal’s creator, Mark Read, to find out what had inspired the dramatic display and how he had brought it off.

“Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism,” Read told the interviewer. “But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. … And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, ‘We need a bat signal. The 99%.’”

“I said, I think I can do that,” Read continued. “I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I’ve worked full time on figuring that out.”

Read explained that he has a background in working with “a community of friends who deploy spectacle and art in the service of radical politics.” Through these events, he has “met people with a variety of skill sets, strange and magical abilities,” and he was able to get many of them working as a team.

He also needed a location from which he could project the images, and for that he found a single mother living in a city-subsidized housing project across from the Verizon building who was enthusiastic about having them use her apartment. She brought her whole family together for the light show, and even when the police started snooping around and pointing at their window, the family’s mood remained festive and defiant.

“This is choosing hope over despair, Read says. “This is actively and resolutely making that choice. … I know we’re heading into winter in New York, but this feels like springtime.”

This video was uploaded to YouTube by AnonOps1337 on November 17, 2011.

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
 
 
 
 
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