Inside Protest Headquarters: A Look at Life in Zuccotti Park

Friday, October 07, 2011

On Thursday afternoon, Larry Left was giving his 13th haircut of the day. A few feet away, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots and nuts were laid out on top of some clear plastic that was covering one of the park's marble benches. And, in the center of Zuccotti Park, Quasy Cayasso was trying resolve some technical difficulties so that people could continue to watch the Occupy Wall Street protests online.

With help from supporters in the city and the rest of the country, Occupy Wall Street protesters have turned Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan into their headquarters and their home — a place where they organize, as well as meet more basic needs.

“There hasn’t been shortage of food since I’ve been here,” said Saman Waquad, 28, who’s been volunteering in the food area for a couple of days.  She was packing food that had just been delivered from a nearby UPS office into plastic containers. “We support you & are proud of your effort!!!” read the message that accompanied bottles of jam, crackers and cookies. 

It was one of the many packages that people from around the country have been sending, Waquad and other protesters said. Food finds its way to Zuccotti Park in other ways as well: people have been ordering it on the OWS website from nearby restaurants and pizza places, and some New Yorkers have been bringing cooked meals. Those living close to the park have also offered their kitchens for cooks who came to the park to offer their skills. 

Not that cooks are the only ones who have come to help out.

Left, 27, a barber, had been working on protesters’ hairstyles for a few days, he said.

“I’m sure I’m gonna like it,” said 26-year-old Natalie Cobrapuke as he was getting a haircut, relinquishing the need to look at a mirror.

In the center of the park, Cayasso, 20, a web designer, had taken time off work to work on live streaming and was fixing a slingbox.

Another volunteer, Steve Smith, 24, who had received first responders training in his previous job, sat in the medic area, with a taped red cross on the front of his shirt and on his sleeve. In that part of the park, it was also possible to get help from doctors, licensed medical therapists, acupuncturists and herbalists.

Next to the medic area, a table was designated for more leisurely needs: tobacco was being rolled up for anyone’s pleasure. And if people wanted more  intellectual stimulation, on the opposite side of the park, near the entrance, books could be borrowed from “The People’s Library.”

Protesters had mostly solicited donations of books on social change, said Coby Skolnick, 30, who’s been in Zuccotti Park since day two of the protests. Those gifts, like food, clothes and people’s time and skills have been one of the greatest things about this protest, he added, because they demonstrated the wide support it has garnered.

“That has been of the most beautiful things,” Skolnick said.

Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Larry Left Giving a Chelsea Haircut
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Natalie Cobrapuke with a New Haircut
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Saman Waquad, Volunteer in Zuccotti Park
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Food Served in Zuccotti Park
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Food Packages
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Food Served in Zuccotti Park
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Food Served in Zuccotti Park
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Kevin, CUNY Student Who Volunteered Washing Dishes
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Steve Smith
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Tobacco Table
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Donated Clothes
The People's Library
Mirela Iverac/WNYC
Coby Skolnick


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Comments [7]

sean doyle

Many of the protesters are Jewish. You should go take a look, instead of conjuring malleable images to delegitimize and stratify.

Oct. 10 2011 12:51 PM

Good article about taking a look at the protestor's life living in Zuccotti Park. Volunteers showing up give a helping hand to some of the protestor's basic needs is commendable. Mayor Bloomberg needs to help out too by bringing some of NYC's portable toilets to the Park.

Oct. 08 2011 04:33 PM
Supplies from Ohio

How can people mail supplies to the protesters?

Oct. 07 2011 09:38 PM
LP from Ledgewood, NJ

It's so great to see Americans helping fellow Americans -- it makes me feel hopeful again... I plan to bring some books for "The People's Library" tomorrow. Keep it up - you are my heroes!

Oct. 07 2011 01:03 PM
Paul J. Bosco from Manhattan

What a nice piece! It makes me wonder what it would have been like at Woodstock, if it were three weeks, not three days.

I have stuff I could donate. 50 nice wool scarves. Silverware. Rolls of fabric... Maybe some volunteers with vans would semi-organize supply runs.

--Paul J. Bosco

Oct. 07 2011 12:00 PM


Oct. 07 2011 10:11 AM
paul from NY

Bob Henley has a few newsy comments about the occupation: the cops are paying a lot of money for overtime for the protest ....and that's bad because the police are suffering so many cutbacks these days.

Hey Bob: youre a newsman. See any connection?? Oh, I forgot. You only do human interest these days. Haha!

Oct. 07 2011 12:25 AM

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