After Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park, there was an effort on the part of many occupiers to keep the movement together by continuing its communal living conditions. One solution was to encourage the use of “squats”; abandoned, unoccupied or legally questionable residential spaces were a number occupiers could live together. As this Wikipedia article shows, squatting for political purposes him has a long tradition among anarchists around the world.
One such squat that is affiliated with Occupy Wall Street is known as the “gay squat” and has contained mostly people from the Occupy movement. In these notes from a recent meeting about the ‘Descalation’ working group -effectively the official security arm of Occupy Wall Street–it’s obvious that even in these decentralized squats, the Occupiers are still having significant crime and security problems. The group is having to balance risk, helping fellow Occupiers and public relations concerns.
Conversation shifts to gay squat. A few people bring up the fact that deescalation has no jurisdiction to help them without permission from Ben, the owner, who is currently involved with a legal battle over the space. They have been dealing with drugs, a fifteen year old who has allegedly prostituted herself, and countless fights.
Police and child services have both been there to check on the girl. This is not officially considered OWS housing, it is just Ben’s apartment.
A few people question.. should we should step in/ask if they need help? Some feel that doing so would be overstepping boundaries, but a few residents of the space have come to ask for help. Ben doesn’t want to deal with it, and the group is afraid that if something bad happens and no one is there to deescalate the situation.. things might spiral.
Other people in the group mention that deescalation only applies to spaces/groups which follow the principles of solidarity/community standards.
Prince takes it upon himself to go mention this to Ben. Everyone uptwinkles that this is alright with the group.
The Occupiers are aware of the problems they face. The real question is whether their ideology and organizational structure leaves them equipped to solve those problems.