The population of ARC38, The Farm, is always changing. Activists come and go all the time. Some come for recuperation, some for spirituality and some for motivation and re-connection. Some come to continue their journey of life, whatever that may be. They leave for a variety of reasons, but always to continue on their life’s journey with new lessons learned.One of the activists at ARC38 this time we are here is Brendan, hard-ground Occupier and ex-Army Reserve. I spent a few months occupying the corner of Broadway and Wall Street with Brendan. During that time at Occupy Trinity Wall Street I saw the dedication and earnestness that characterizes Brendan as an Occupier and as a person. Brendan walks the walk. You can depend on Brendan to do what he says he is going to do.
Before coming to ARC38 Brendan occupied with Occupy Sandy at Occupy Sheepshead Bay. “I did demolition and cleanup work, tearing down walls and cleaning up all the mold. I learned a lot — the mutual aid thing, hundreds of people coming together and helping each other. It was a lot of fun, there was a fun aspect to it all. The food was amazing. All the people got together to provide food. It was a really great kitchen. The Red Cross didn’t help much, and FEMA . . . ugh. FEMA would just drive around and take advantage of situations. They’d drive around, take pictures of themselves as if they were doing something, but then would just drive off. Occupy Sandy did what needed to be done, whatever that was. Whatever the people needed that’s what we did for them. It was really chill at Occupy Sheepshead Bay. There were a couple of Occupy Oakland people there, and Occupiers from all over would come through to help out. It was very chill. Everybody helped everybody else with whatever they needed. We all just did what needed to be done.”
Brendan and the other Occupiers helping at Sheepshead Bay after Hurricane Sandy stayed, at the end, at other Occupier living spaces. But early on they stayed at a local church. However, the church caught fire and they lost that space. Luckily, most Occupiers were elsewhere at the time, and nobody was injured in the fire. Life is always interesting for a hard-grounder.
Previously with Occupy Wall Street, Brendan hard-grounded at The Federal Steps and Occupy Trinity Wall Street. He was in the front lines during some of the most violent police harassment. Brendan was surprised at the way the NYPD was treating Occupiers. “They’ll be known throughout history as the ones who tried to suppress the protesters, very violently, unmercifully.” Brendan himself has been arrested a number of times, often violently and for no reason at all (Ed Note: I myself have witnessed three such incidents of police brutality towards Brendan). He tells stories of actions where he witnessed NYPD officers beating women while arresting them for exercising their right of dissent, even though they had not broken any laws.
He talks of how hard it is that his family doesn’t like what he’s doing. They agree with him on an intellectual level, but that he is actually doing what he believes in is hard for them to understand. Most Occupiers, myself included, have the same problem.
Here at The Farm Brendan finds challenge. He does whatever is needed at ARC38 in order to bring its vision to reality. Whether its working in the field or getting ready for the Farm’s first round of teach-ins, Brendan enjoys throwing himself into the task at hand.Brendan has been very active on a number of different issues. One of the actions Brendan enjoyed the most was getting, cooking and handing out free food to people in the subway stations. As a hard-grounder Brendan knows first-hand how hungry a person can get living poor in New York City. He and another Occupier would bring the food down to the subway station, and just watch the people — offering good, hot food to those who were hungry.
Does he want to go back down to Wall Street and protest? “Yes.” Will he be back protesting on Wall Street? “Yes.”
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