Zuccotti Park, the base of the Occupy Wall Street protests, has emerged as a dramatic contrast to the everyday tourist bustle and business suits of lower Manhattan. A palpable energy radiates from the encampment, and its borders are brimming with its charge: the edges of tarp tents, protestors with rallying cries, cardboard signs pasted to wooden paint stirrers.
Anger and frustration are the fabric of this movement, and within the park so many protestors tell stories of financial hardships, both their own and those of their friends and family. Many in Zuccotti Park are the direct victims of this current economic instability – the unemployed, the uninsured, the homeless, and a cross-section of the city’s residents just trying to make ends meet. All are fed up with the systemic inequities that drive the ever-widening income gap in New York City.
In support of these men and women, the Coalition’s mobile soup kitchen has begun taking a small detour on its lower Manhattan route to serve warm, nutritious meals to homeless and hungry protestors. Many of the street homeless normally lining up at our South Ferry stop have migrated to Zuccotti Park, finding solidarity and safety in the encampment. Our Mobile Outreach workers continue to reach out to these individuals and other protestors, referring those in need to free food assistance, free showers, medical care or public benefits help, both at the Coalition and at other organizations.
Coalition volunteers also distributed spare blankets to protestors, many of whom are without sleeping bags, tents or extra clothing. Protestors have occupied Zuccotti Park for over three weeks, and more are arriving as the protest’s message resonates throughout New York City and across the country. As fall weather sets in and the days become colder, the blankets and food, as well as other necessities such as clothing, medical supplies, and utensils are the rudimentary – but requisite – fuel to the movement’s growing momentum.
By delivering meals to the homeless and hungry people who have joined the protest, and through our small blanket donation, the Coalition has offered much needed support to the struggling individuals and families who demand their voices be heard.
[Note: None of the support offered to the protest impacts the Coalition’s daily direct service programs for homeless and at-risk men, women, and children.]