My sister was in New York at the beginning of November 2011 and went to visit the Occupy Wall Street camp and so I spoke to her and so here is some of her photos and experiences, all shared with her permission.
Just for a little bit of context, she was 21 and visiting the city with my mum. She had heard about the protest through the news and wanted to check it out, and she had the perfect opportunity as my mum was going somewhere she wasn’t interested in.
The first thing she can remember seeing was in the McDonalds on the corner of the park, where people from the camp were using the bathrooms. In a weird sense of juxtaposition, it’s a really fancy McDonald’s, with a live pianist and everything, due to the proximity to Wall Street.
She went towards the camp, and saw people with signs standing on the outskirts. She said it was nice to see that the people there were actively protesting, actually trying to make a difference.
The tent camp itself had a sense of community, with its own good neighbor policy. She also said that not only were the people there protestors, but homeless people could stay there as well, as long as they abided by the policy. Both the policy and a guide for avoiding negativity helped to build a sense of community and keep the camp positive.
There was a section that was basically stalls, with a lot of leaflets
They were also selling t-shirts with slogans. It looked like they had been given a collection of American Apparel t shirts and they were selling them for $10-$15, mostly to the tourists around the camp. The money went to keeping the camp up, making sure there was enough shelter and food.
There was a real sense of community in the camp, and it seemed like everyone cared about each other, to the extent where the camp was self-sustaining. There was a bike which powered the electricity to the kitchen area they had, they grew food themselves.
They also had a library with books that were not only political but also fiction and some were first editions of books donated by authors themselves, and they had speeches from authors as well. The library was entirely trust-based and relied on donations.
My sister said that if she had been older, or been there alone, she probably would’ve joined the protest and stayed in the camp as well, and she regrets not being able to be there longer.