WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Occupying Wall Street and Trying to Be a Good Neighbor
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As the occupation of Wall Street rolls into another week, protesters say they are doing their best to reduce their impact on the surrounding neighborhood. But sanitation, noise and the extensive police presence remain concerns for some residents according to Community Board 1 chair Julie Menin.
"The other big issue is access," Menin said. "The NYPD has put police barricades really all over the financial district. So we are getting a tremendous number of calls at the Community Board office dealing with access to residential buildings and businesses."
Menin said the Community Board and protesters have meet three times and Occupy Wall Street representatives agreed to stop the protest drumming at 10 p.m. "We have a lot of families with young children who live nearby," Menin said.
But she said trash pick-up and toilet access remain issues.
"We are urging the city to get involved in sanitation issues," Menin said. "The City really doesn't seem to really have any kind of plan to deal with sanitation issues."
Protester Dylan O'Keefe from Massachusetts, with the Occupy Wall Street Sanitation Committee, said members of his committee have been cleaning the toilets of the restaurants protesters frequent most.
"We really don't want to wear out our welcome," O'Keefe said. "We don't want people who run businesses in the area to dislike us."
When called for comment, a spokesman from the Department of Sanitation said the city had yet to receive a single complaint on the city's 311 line about sanitation conditions at the site.
O'Keefe said protesters have set up a daily cleaning protocol. "Right now the biggest challenge is getting everyone to consolidate their things and move them so we can get underneath it and clean. it was a little hard at first to get people to comply but we are doing a pretty good job now," said O'Keefe.
Protesters regularly collect the trash generated at the site and take it to spots where the city already picks up garbage on a daily basis. O'Keefe said an outside organization picks up the recyclables generated at the site.
Protester Seth Arbor from Athens, Georgia, had to walk several blocks with two empty ten gallon water jugs. His destination was a restaurant that's been letting protesters get water.
(Photo: Occupy Wall Street sets up a recycling center at their site./Bob Hennelly for WNYC)
"This is a challenge," said Arbor. "We got to make daily runs. This isn't for drinking. It’s to clean the dishes."