Occupy City Hall is a movement that appears to bear a very close resemblance to the Occupy Wall Street movement nine years ago. Born with the protests against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd, this movement created an encampment located on Centre Street next to City Hall Park and near The David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building, named after the 1990s mayor.
Occupy City Hall is open 24 hours a day and at the height of the protests it drew hundreds of people who joined the activists with their demands to trim the NYPD budget at least $1 billion from the police department’s current $6 billion budget. During the debates and passing of the new budget at the beginning of July the City appeared to have cut a billion, but critics say it was some fancy footwork that gave the appearance of giving citizens what they demanded.
We went to the camp on a day just after the encampment had experienced heavy rains and suffered an early morning raid by the police. It had an unsettled atmosphere, with some raging outbursts and some quietly warm generosity exhibited among the primarily young crowd. Guess everyone needs a sense of balance these days. The encampment has a communal library, a space for drinking tea, room for meditation and, a sign-making workshop. Most people are welcomed and it also provides a safe space for homeless people in need of a hot meal, a place to rest, and clean clothes.
Now these New Yorkers are calling the location “Abolition Park” and as the encampment evolves it continues to be a very well organized community of people with volunteers serving hot meals, distributing protest kits, water, and first aid for those in need of it.