When more than a thousand protesters marched on Saturday from Bowling Green, near the southern tip of Manhattan, toward the backup meeting point marked “2″ on their maps, they thought they were going to a place called Zuccotti Park, several blocks north of Wall Street on Broadway. That’s what it said on the map. It’s now a private park, owned by Brookfield Properties, but it hasn’t always been its name. Before being renamed after Brookfield’s chairman, John Zuccotti, it was called Liberty Plaza. Going there was a last-minute decision on the part of the group’s Tactics Committee, and it was one with significance. Tahrir in Arabic, after all, means “liberty.” Though with fewer people than the historic protests in Cairo this winter, Tahrir has come to the United States, at least in name.
Here, under the light canopy of trees that obscures the office buildings looming overhead, several hundred people have remained since Saturday afternoon. They’ve been making signs, collecting thousands of dollars’ worth of pizza delivery, playing music, collecting trash, laying down sleeping bags and cardboard to sleep on, and running a media center on a generator and their own wi-fi hotspot. After briefly surrounding the park on Saturday night, the police presence—at least in view—has been relatively light.