Although many chants were the same, the scene at Occupy Brooklyn yesterday was quite different than the one in Zuccotti Park. There was also free pizza at Grand Army Plaza, but one pie was sufficient for the crowd, which boasted more strollers than facial tattoos and cheered cops for being so “accommodating” when they set up more barricades. True to a Park Slope rally, there were families, mature artists, old-timey bands and borough Prez Marty Markowitz. Many of the protesters had been to Wall Street, but rallied at Grand Army because they live in the borough and argued that the joblessness, foreclosures, and income disparity they are protesting were all more obvious in Brooklyn than in the Financial District.
Instead of Wall Street execs toasting the rally with champagne like at OWS, this group was cheered by many passing cars, including young people in suits and Priuses. “In Zuccotti, you will sometimes get sanitation buses or school buses honking”, organizer Leo Goldberg said. This morning’s two-hour rally felt more like an extension of Prospect Park on a fall afternoon than the up-against-the-system protests in Manhattan.
But the topics of conversation weren’t so sunny. Marty Markowitz, who came to support the rally, noted some BK neighborhoods where 18% of men are unemployed. “We are constantly pitching companies,” he said, citing Brooklyn’s failed bid to build the Taxicab of Tomorrow (which will be manufactured in Mexico) “We really wanted that to be something that was made here in New York, in Brooklyn… We need those jobs… jobs for people who work with their hands.”
Also there was Andrea Vaughn, a librarian from the Brooklyn Public Library. “They’ve cut until there’s nothing left to cut,” she said. The library has “thousands of ways to help average people improve their lives” she says, mentioning job placement, resume help, and language classes.
Trumpeter Zachary Boyce of Flatbush and several friends joined up to treat the crowd to some semi-improvised tunes (and their puppet “Occupus,” an octopus with eight demands).While Boyce slept in Zuccotti Park the night before, he came to the borough because he said, “Brooklyn is where this should be happening.”
“It may be an illusion, but I can feel it when I cross the bridge,” here his gaze became more far-off, “this is a completely different space. People here are ready to engage.”
The group Occupy Brooklyn, set up the day’s event in a scramble, establishing up a Facebook page, reaching out to clergy and community groups, and canvassing the subways. Occupy BK has been active in Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, and Greenpoint, with South Brooklyn being their next step. For more information, sign up to their email list via Facebook. Just don’t try occupybrooklyn.org. It’s occupied by another group.