No, the richest person in town, who by no coincidence at all is also mayor, hasn't managed to get the whole city named after him, not yet at least. What he and his class, the Wall Streeters who rule New York, have done is bit by bit, year by year, pushed through round after round of budget cuts, program closings, layoffs and other attacks on the working class and oppressed of this country's biggest city. They've just done it again, passing a so-called austerity budget that will make life harder for millions of people.
This time, though, they weren't able to duck and hide and finish their dirty work behind closed doors. This time there was Bloombergville.
For the last two weeks in June, through heat humidity and smog, through wind rain and chill, breathing an endless bouquet of auto and truck exhaust, harassed and moved from corner to corner by the cops, a hearty angry determined band of activists maintained a 24-hour encampment near City Hall to demand that City Council reject the Bloomberg/Wall Street/Democratic/Republican cuts—cuts to a budget that has a $3 billion surplus, in a city that routinely hands over billions of dollars in tax breaks to big business.
They called the encampment Bloombergville, an echo of the Hoovervilles that sprang up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was an exciting, vibrant phenomenon. Its population ranged from a few dozen at some points to several hundred at others. Many were young, high school and college age, but there were also many older folks, ranging up to veterans of the 1960s Freedom Rides now in their 70s and 80s. Union members along with the unorganized.
They organized themselves beautifully, in a fascinating demonstration of democracy in action, putting together committees to make sure everyone had food and water, to find area bathrooms, to furnish the sidewalk with yoga mats and sleeping bags and rotate lying-down time, to stay safe and secure. They made a lot of noise, too, banging buckets and beating drums and chanting and singing. Finally, last night, on the eve of the City Council vote, they marched around City Hall and demonstrated outside the bank building (!) where the Council's offices are—and went inside, where 13 protesters sat in and were promptly dragged off to jail.
Here are a few pictures I took last night with my camera phone. The first is one of my favorites. See how they created a real community, complete with a free library! Long live the spirit of Bloombergville! I'm sure many more will be sprouting up, here and around the country, in days to come.