We have a new member of the Occupy Bus Tour: hard-grounder Laura. She joined us in Manhattan a bit ago, and traveled with us to ARC38 where we were at the time of this writing. We had planned to be with Occupy Albany at the Money Out Of Politics march in Albany on Wednesday, and then on to meet The Medic Roadshow bus — but our bus needed work. Godzilla doesn’t like the financial district — every time we leave there something goes wrong with the bus.
But we did make it to ARC38, and Laura is enthusiastic about the place. She has been busy every moment of the day and night since we got here, having plugged herself in at The Farm here just like she does on the streets of New York City.
Laura has been everywhere in New York City that OWS hard-grounders have been. She’s occupied Liberty Park, 702 Vermont Street, Union Square, The Federal Steps, Trinity Wall Street, Brookfield Properties, Goldman Sachs, and now the Bus Tour. She has also been a part of the sleepful bank protests, and has occupied the night outside Chase, Bank of America and HSBC. More than that, a true hard-grounder, she has lived on the street between occupations after every eviction. Before coming on the bus she had been staying at the waterfront and the side streets off Wall Street. She can only stay with us on the bus a bit longer than a week this time out because she has other commitments for June, but she will be welcomed back after that. “You guys left without me last time, but this time I’m going to come. I’ll hide in the bus until you’re on your way, and then I’ll pop out and say: ‘You have a stowaway! Where we going?” There is no denying Laura.
Laura filled a vital role in maintaining the occupation at Trinity Wall Street. Her dedication and thorough attention to detail when she was helping the medics earned her the nickname of “Nurse Laura”. I have worked with none better at aftercare than her. That isn’t all Laura has done as a hard-grounder. When the NYPD cleared us off the sidewalk at Occupy Trinity Wall Street in the run-up to the OWS 1-year anniversary using the false pretense they were going to power-wash the sidewalk — Laura was the first one to realize their duplicity and she defied the Police line and their unlawful order for us to disperse. I accompanied her as her medic, but the show was all hers. She picked up her bags, walked across Broadway, through the police line, back to the medic space, and declared her intent to continue occupying. When ordered to pick up her bags, she refused, and was arrested and roughly treated. Her bravery inspired the rest of the Occupiers across the street, and they all came back to occupy Trinity one by one and two by two. The NYPD backed down and left. The occupation continued, saved by Laura. As for the arrest, the case was thrown out of court and the police officers reprimanded by the judge. It only takes one person to make a difference, and that one person can change everything. Laura has been that one person more than once.
Laura has probably helped out in every working group that has occupied New York City sidewalks. I caught her on Ustream the other day helping I.B. set up the Info Table. Laura moves around a lot, and can disappear when you least expect it, but there’s never any ignoring her. Honest, straight-forward and by her own admission, very blunt — Laura speaks her mind regardless of situation or circumstance. Her first arrest came on her first protest march with Occupy Wall Street. She had taken to the streets but the police told her to get back on the sidewalk. She complied, but not quickly enough for the NYPD officer, who shoved her forcefully over to the sidewalk. Then, as Laura explains it, “I flipped out on the cop when he shoved me for no reason, and he arrested me. That was my first arrest and it was on my first march!”
That arrest did nothing to quiet Laura down, and certainly did not frighten her away. She has been arrested several times, detained many times, and harassed countless times. She has been on the front lines of this movement ever since she first stepped foot in Zuccotti Park (aka Liberty Park). I am proud to be hard-grounding with her.