Q&A With Mike Andrews, Occupy Organizer: What Happens After May 1?

05/09/2012 4:00 AM |

The L: Talking to Occupy people, what I hear often is that there is no hierarchy in the movement. And then you have other people saying ‘Yeah there is, it has to be organized somehow.’ So, when you say “us,” who are you referring to?
MA: I’m referring to the New York City General Assembly, that’s what we called ourselves. That’s just the folks who would meet once a week, who usually met at Tompkins Square Park. Throughout August and into September. Decisions about holding the general assembly, about advising people where to sleep, all that was consensed [sic] upon by us in the park, we call ourselves New York City General Assembly.

The L: A huge turning point in the story was November 17th, the eviction from Zuccotti. Where were you then, what were you doing?
MA: I never slept in the park. Not one time. I didn’t sleep the first night, because that day I had been, I along with two or three others had been in charge of sort of technical aspects. We chose Zucotti Park as the place to stay.

The L: You chose Zuccotti Park?
MA: Me and two other guys.

The L: Part of the New York General Assembly?
MA: We were called the “tactical team.” Yeah I know, it sounds all militaristic. The assembly had decided that we would hold our general assembly in Chase Manhattan Park, which is the plaza two blocks east of Zuccotti Park, barricaded since September 17th. But the general assembly also consensed [sic] that if Chase Manhattan Park was blocked that day, then that the “tactical committee”—which turned out to be three of us, simply because we came to every meeting—that we were empowered to speak amongst ourselves to choose an alternative location and not announce it until an hour before the general assembly.

We arrived there on September 17, and we from the “tactical committee” saw that Chase Manhattan Park was blocked. I expected that to happen. We said, “Okay, let’s go to Zuccotti Park,” only because it was the next closest location. And so we made that decision and kept it to ourselves for several hours, until the end of the rally, until just thirty minutes before the general assembly was about to start. And then I got up in front of the rally—at this point we had passed out all the maps—and I said, “We’re going to hold our general assembly at location two on the map.” We did it that way so we could announce to everyone what was happening, but so that the police wouldn’t hear. Only people who had the map—and we made sure not to hand them to any police—knew where we were going. And it ended up working well.