Anne and I are in New York for the weekend to see our kids and grand kids. Plus it is our 35th wedding anniversary. Naturally we want to spend some time at Occupy Wall Street.
Liberty Park is jammed with people. Some have taken up permanent residence in sleeping bags and tents. Hundreds more fill the park every day with signs of one kind or another. There are lots of tourists, reporters and college students who have been assigned to interview the protesters.
There are drum circles, spontaneous dances and the steady flow of speakers whose voices get amplified, not by the banned electronic microphones and loudspeakers, but the technique of the crowd repeating what each speaker says in waves that carry the message to the back of the throngs who are listening.
As we left we stopped by a group of teachers who were doing a grade-in in an open plaza across from the park.
Grade-ins have become common in cities across the country as teachers gather in public spaces to do work that usually gets done at home, off the clock and unrecognized: prepping for classes, grading papers and doing the unending paperwork that the school bureaucracies demand.
Since there was no open space in Liberty Square, this group of teachers gathered across the street. A few minutes later two uniformed New York cops arrived on the scene.
“What’s going on.”
“We’re grading papers.”
“Can’t do that here.”
The cops disappeared for a few minutes and suddenly there were a half-dozen more New York cops.
“Can’t do that here,” they repeated.
“Thank you, officers,” one of the teachers politely said. And the teachers gathered their tests, folding chairs and hand-made cardboard signs and moved across the street, disappearing into the crowd.