Most of the attention in the New York City police’s raid on “Occupy Wall Street” early Tuesday morning centered on the removal of tents and sleeping bags. But protesters indicate that many other valuable items, including important medical equipment and laptops, were either unrecoverable or damaged beyond repair.
“Everything, everything we had: gone,” said Chris Carter, a New Jersey native and firefighter who has been part of the “Occupy” medical staff since the second day of the protests. “All the medications we had: Tylenol, cough machine, two AED Defibrillators units, vitamins, an asthma inhaler. Nothing left.”
Carter pointed out that the medical staff lost more than $4,000 of equipment during the raid, raising a level of frustration in his voice where they likely will have to contact hospitals to handle simple tasks.
“Unfortunately if something happens, EMS is probably going to have to come out a lot more often than they did,” he said. “We are all certified at some level at some point, we have doctors, firefighters, EMTs, no one on the medical staff isn’t certified at something or another. But unfortunately, we don’t have the necessary stuff to do that. This could create more of a hassle for them because they’re going to have to come out for the stupidest little shit.”
Mayor Mike Bloomberg stated in his press conference after the crackdown that protesters could retrieve their possessions in midtown Manhattan. But some first- hand accounts from the protesters who tried to find their items, including the Occupy Wall Street Library members searching for their books, were unable to find their belongings or, if they did, found them in ill-repair
New York University law student Dee Armstrong observed how the sanitation department and police were aggressively dealing with all items, not just sleeping equipment.
“Police were cutting the tents so they couldn’t be re-used,” she said. “And I kept hearing people say, ‘Give it to the homeless, give it to the homeless.’ Then they would throw them into a pile, and I think you could see on any of the footage that they just throw them into this huge dumpster, with claims that it was going to the storage unit. But how on Earth are you suppose to find your items?”
She added: “Some people’s backpacks, textbooks, laptops, there was people’s laptops that were just thrown in the sanitation truck where you could see it on the livestream footage.”
“I had a skateboard, I had a trombone, a very expressive trombone, a desk, a chair in there, a wooded floor, I was set up,” said a 26-year-old man who identified himself as Melo. “That was one of the most set up spots in the park. I had a house, a half tent with wood. I was going to build a doorknob. Now, no one has anything.”
About a 100 protesters vowed to sleep through the first night without their equipment. But police observing Zuccotti Park banned protesters from bringing anything that could have been used as head rests, including styrofoam
“They evicted styrofoam,” said Lorianne Pfiffer, a person who has come after work to the demonstrations for over a month. “They want to evict styrofoam, which is recyclable, which is kind of like an oxymoron, but it’s just unjustified.”
Fueled by the crackdown, some protesters vow they will get conditions back to what they were in just a few days despite the law against them.
“We’re going to have find a loophole somewhere, we’re going to find it,” Melo said, who mentioned that the protesters will march into Wall Street early Thursday morning. “But we’re not going to not have tents because it’s winter time. They can’t tell us that we can stay here in the park, but we can’t sleep here. They are trying to back us into a corner. But we’re going to get tents, and they might as well bet on it.”
And when asked to respond to claims by Bloomberg and other critics of the movement that the ongoing occupation presented health and safety concerns, Carter deemed it “hypocrisy” against the protesters.
“It’s ironic that the biggest thing they say is we have fire and health hazards,” he said. “We had flu shots a few days ago. We had medicine to help people. If you want hazards, you’re going to have people sleeping out here without tents and relatively soon 30-degree-below weather.”
“Not giving them tents, and you’re worried about health hazards? Really?”