Along one side, where we entered, ran the bars; in one corner was a partition and a toilet and sink. At One Police Plaza, we protesters had been the only occupants of our cell. We sang songs; one particularly energetic protester, Austin, led us in a stunning rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We did joke versions of our chants. ” we’d chanted, when someone got mustard to put on a cheese sandwich.A shiny metal bench ran alongside the rest of the perimeter. And when an officer delivered us some toilet paper (this was a cleaner cell), Austin tried to start the “This is what anal hygiene looks like! When arrested female protesters were led by our large holding cell, we hooted and cheered and banged on the plastic wall, to let them know we supported them. There was probably room enough for us on the benches but we didn’t feel confident enough to claim any of it. On our way in, we’d been given the standard-issue sandwiches, plus a milk, and now an extremely tall man—he must have been around seven feet—came over and asked Stephen for his milk.As I formulated this in my head, Henry from the Bronx cut in.“Police brutality,” he said quickly. People who’d brought backpacks to the protest had had them confiscated, but the young anarchists had managed to hold on to their copy of the journal , Issue 6.We passed it around, though the prose was tough going; eventually the anarchists surrendered it to a curious police officer.Lunch and dinner were a choice of sandwiches—either “peanut butter and jelly,” which appeared in fact to be a kind of marmalade “p.b.& j.” extract, or cheese, which was a few haphazard bits of cheese between two slices of wheat bread. Breakfast, which was served for some reason at four in the morning, was a small box of Corn Flakes, a small milk, and a spoon, plus a banana.A sizable crowd, probably a thousand people, gathered across Broadway from Zuccotti. This was our most confrontational act thus far, and police began to mass around the sitters.
& j.-eating career.***I was arrested at just past eight in the morning on November 17th, as part of an Occupy Wall Street “direct action” meant to paralyze, or at least impede the smooth functioning of, the New York Stock Exchange. Paul’s Church, on Broadway, a few blocks north of Wall Street, then walked down to Zuccotti Park, the home base of the O. We were mostly grad students and writers and editors.
During that time, our cell held an average of twenty men.
And we had, I think, over the course of that time, five meals.
We continued to talk quietly among ourselves about the protest. The fact that you have no debt means you’re rich.”“Man,” said R. 3, the magical Humming Trio.” Everyone in both cells cracked up. In the cell across from ours, a protester named Gene, from Staten Island, began doing what amounted to a standup routine. We’ll make a million bucks.” At four in the morning, they woke us up for breakfast.
After a while, a young guy sitting in the corner nearest us finally asked what we’d been protesting about. One of the conceptual artists spoke at length about capitalism and the rise of student debt; Paul the anarchist spoke about the revolutions that had spread through the Arab world, and how, after the Arab Spring, it was time for an American Autumn. He had five thousand Facebook friends and made his living, he said, in the drug trade. Now Thomas, who is working on a conceptual-art project dramatizing the crushing burden that student debt has become for a lot of American young people, asked how much debt R. said that he had no debt, and thirty-five hundred dollars in the bank.“That makes you richer than most Americans,” said Paul, the anarchist, stretching the point a little.“Did you hear me? “I said thirty-five hundred dollars.”“That’s right. “I’m learning a lot in this jail cell.”From then on, we felt a lot better. left, though not before exchanging e-mail addresses with Henry and promising to visit us in Zuccotti Park. ” Across from us, a group of three protesters, including Jesse Myerson, a journalist with Truthout, began a kind of rhythmic humming, and one of their cellmates, a rotund black guy in a baseball cap, came up to the bars of their cell and started pretending he was their d.j. I was falling asleep at this point, but Field told me about it later. Gene picked up the milk carton—one per cent skim milk—and cried, “Hey! We thought it was a rich guy, but it turns out to be this carton of milk!