(The following event took place on or around February 10th)
#Occupypep was insane. First I hung out with the crowd across the street from Brooklyn Technical High School. Heard some speak outs from politicians who of course said the generic crap about “students need education, can’t cut funding, blah blah blah.” Even heard from Marty Markowitz too. I heckled him personally about his dealings with Bruce Ratner.
If you aren’t keen to that subject. Markowitz allowed Bruce Ratner’s development of the Atlantic Yards complex in order to “create jobs and affordable housing.” Atlantic Yards forced a good number of businesses to close and forced many out their homes. The only housing which came from Atlantic Yards will be condos. Also, fyi, the jobs potentially created ended up being a lie as there is no money to build anything more than the stadium. Excuse me for digression.
So anyway after hearing some of the speak outs we headed inside to watch the Public Education Panel (PEP). The subject of the night, “to close 23 schools, or not to close 23 schools… that is the question.” Well I was expecting something along the lines of what we’ve already seen as Occupiers “mic-checked” Scott Walker, or Sarah Palin, or Obama. No, this was nothing like that.
I enter the auditorium and I see the mic-checking has already started. I think, “crap I need to get my camera out and start livestreaming.” Then I get a little closer and realize “wait, they aren’t stopping.” They didn’t stop, at all. The public session of the meeting (prior to the panel “discussion”) lasted 3 hours. During that time the Occupiers, UFT, Students in danger of losing their schools, and anyone else in opposition to the proposal of the night didn’t stop screaming, mic-checking, chanting, people’s micing, or even singing. A great many times the people’s mic (which consisted of the about 1000 pissed-off people in the auditorium) COMPLETELY drowned out ANYONE speaking on the microphone. It was unreal. At one point one of the people from the audience said into the microphone “I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like this before.”
There was one point when the students decided to leave the main auditorium to plan strategically. Then we found out the Police were giving them a hard time about coming back in. To which chants began “Let them in!! Let them in!!” They were eventually allowed back into the auditorium, but not without a brief confrontation with police who threatened to kick them out for good. For the record, I do not believe any arrests were made over the course of the night.
After the public portion of the night the panel members took a 5 minute break. Next they came back and had a “discussion” on whether or not it was a good idea to close the schools. One or two people spoke defiantly against the school closures. One person spoke, with MUCH stuttering, in favor of closing them. In the end, though ABC News apparently reported that 17 schools were closed down, it looked to me (while I was present) like they were all closed.
It’s worth noting that the voting panel’s members were comprised as follows
4 members elected by the populace (who all voted against the closure)
6 members elected by Bloomberg (who all voted for the closure).
If you would like to watch the actual footage check out my channel on ustream:
www.ustream.tv/user/stopmotionsolo It is titled “On the front lines February 9, 2012” I think Feb 10, may be the voting portion.
I always tweet when I will be streaming so feel free to follow me @stopmotionsolo
Also, one last note. As a general invitation to anyone who has lost their school or has fallen victim to this night events. Or if you know someone. You are ALL welcome to join us in future protests this spring and summer. Oh, it’s gonna be one HELL of a year :) …