Occupy Wall Street's Sustainability Working Group Releases Statement on the Raid

POSTED ON: November 15, 2011


During last night's police raid, the Occupy Wall Street Sustainability group was raided and had much of its equipment stolen by the police. Today they released the following statement.



Early this morning, the NYPD initiated a violent raid against the occupiers at Zuccotti Park, under the direction of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The raid was extremely violent—at least one man has been hospitalized by police beatings, several people were pepper sprayed, and reports of further violence and extraordinary tactics continue to pour in at the time of this writing.

The police have illegally taken our bikes, which we were using to provide bike power electricity for different stations such as media and medical. There is a report that all of our materials and possessions have been destroyed and taken to a dump. It is worth remembering that the batteries contain heavy metals, which will continue to poison and pollute the earth for years if they are disposed of in this manner.

Obviously, we at OWS Sustainability condemn this action with every fiber of our being. The violence of the police, the silencing of free speech and the prevention of media access to the space, and the blatant theft of our property are all completely outrageous. These actions demonstrate the contempt of the police for the law and for their fellow human.

But it is not enough to condemn. We must also observe: the police have specifically targeted the institutions that allow the park to make itself sustainable. One of the earliest reports to come out of the park was a report of pepper spraying, mass arrests and police violence at the kitchen area, which allowed us to feed ourselves. Now we hear reports that the police have destroyed our bikes, which allowed us to power ourselves.

This is not a coincidence. This is a wartime strategy that is even older than the notion of the state—make your enemies unable to provide for themselves. Consider the “Victory Gardens” of World War 2. The British Government recognized that import lines were threatened, and so they encouraged their people to plant seeds and grow food. Or, on the flipside, consider the countless incidents throughout history—the Spanish Civil War, the firebombing of Philadelphia’s MOVE collective—when the government has annihilated any social movement that looked like it would actually succeed in sustaining itself independent of government influence.

The sustainability community must recognize that sustainability is an inherently radical concept. Taking care of oneself and one’s land base diminishes one’s dependence on the state. Furthermore, a movement that seeks to safeguard the Earth must engage its political context. Sustainability bases itself on the principles of ecology, and one of the central tenets of ecology is that everything happens in the context of a larger system. Our communities cannot be considered sustainable if they exist at the whim of larger powers that can destroy them at any time. Working to dismantle these powers should be as central to the sustainability movement as composting and recycling. This was the message that the police sent to us last night. We have heard it loud and clear.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.