NYPD hates books: police and Brookfield properties workers destroy #OWS library. Again.

"NYPD & Brookfield have taken the People's Library again. and we love you all," tweet the Occupy Wall Street librarians of Zuccotti Park.

They also raided all the energy bars, waters, and snacks from the re-created library, and threw them away, too. This is not the first time.

Then, shortly after: "A few of our awesome librarians holding up new donations just after NYPD and Brookfield workers took our books tonight."

The librarians are restocking, in case you'd like to donate.

And for those new to the story, Brookfield is the owner of Zuccotti Park, a central site in the two-month-old global Occupy movement. Participants in the OWS protest at Zuccotti set up a book-sharing site, a library of sorts, and both the structure and the 5,000 books it contained were destroyed by the police earlier this week.

"Books are apparently the crosses and garlic of the evil vampire squid," tweets "bookmaker" Kate Black.

"Porn star Sasha Grey reads to children while the NYPD throws books in the trash," says comedian Rob Delaney. "Inhale that, America."


  1. The first time was kind of unnecessary, but at this point, they’re kind of asking for it. The park is not a place to store property. Keeping the books there is not in any way tied to a first amendment interest. It’s a cool idea to have a “people’s library,” but you need to find some place where you can do that.

  2. With all that’s been going on in the U.S. it can’t be long until the police start burning the books in a big pyre in the middle of the park.

  3. Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been nearly as successful as he was with the peaceful protesting if he didn’t have Malcolm X and the Black Panthers standing in the background showing the powers that be in America what may happen if they continue to ignore what’s wrong about their society.

    Inhale that, OWS.

    (Assuming you get a MLKjr at some point. Hell, you’re so random right now even getting your own Sarah Palin would be an improvement.)

    1. There’s a lot of truth here. I fully support the OWS’s non-violent ethic. But the above comment is true both for our own civil rights movement and for Gandhi’s. They both had a separate yet violent counterpart.

    2. So I assume you are up for some guerrilla action? What is your critique anyways? It seems that you want to dismiss the protesters for not being radical enough, but I can’t see you actually doing anything to help. Or is this just a particularly pernicious type of concern trolling.

  4. OWS, you are getting distracted. Your message is bigger and stronger than books, tents and sleeping bags. These thing do not matter. They only drag you down into the mud. The powers that be created the mud. They own the mud. You cannot win in the mud. Stay focused. Tell these powers that you are above these distractions.

    1. Baloney. A police department of a major U.S. city throwing books out in the trash is a very apt and marketable event. Can you imagine being a child in an elementary school who is being taught about how important books are yet seeing or reading about this in the local news? There has got to me more than a few dinner table conversations about this happening right now.

      You can’t buy advertising like that folks. Cops tossing out books transcends all ages, races and even language barriers. Nobody is going to forget that.

      1. Yes, so hammer this home by rebuilding the library. Just because.

        But can’t we just get local used book stores to deliver for us? I’d like to support (their) local booksellers.

  5. RE ” The park is not a place to store property.”

    The books are there for distribution, not storage.  Parks have been places to read for a long time.   OWS is making that fun and communal with an outdoor library.  They should be allowed to have a library at Zuccotti Park.

    1. By necessity, they’re begin stored their until someone takes them. Otherwise it wouldn’t really be a library, would it? And there wouldn’t be a collection of books for the police to take, it would just be books people are carrying around/reading.

  6. C’mon, you know damn well the police don’t hate ~books~.

    For the critical thinkers out there, an article title like this reeks of pandering and stretching the truth. It does a noble campaign no good by resorting to that.

  7. I’m way too far away to get books there in person, but I’ll be hitting the local used bookstore this weekend to pick up some books to ship. Reading is always awesome, no matter what, and the harder the cops try to prevent it, the more important it becomes.

  8. With the help of Amazon Prime’s free shipping I just sent 6 books to help them rebuild the Free People’s Library: Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, John Robb’s Brave New War, Chet Richard’s Certain to Win, Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus, and Robert Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice, 5th ed. Maybe they’ll wind up in a dumpster, maybe they’ll wind up in the hands of someone who’ll find them really helpful and useful. Especially page 163 of Here Comes Everybody.

  9. The first time was kind of unnecessary, but at this point, they’re kind of asking for it. The park is not a place to store property.

    Sorry, but no. Specific rules only matter in a system that is working well. Once a system breaks or is corrupted by a minority for their own benefit, only one principle becomes important – do not violently hurt others.

    Does a small library hurt others? If not, then it should not be repeatedly burnt to the ground.

  10. Bloomberg and Julius Caesar share a feat: both of them were instrumental in destroying famous libraries. 

  11. RT @boingboing-e6a4f65e7355bb8b7671c3a18003b146:disqus  “Especially page 163 of Here Comes Everybody.”it is part of the chapter 7 “Faster and Faster” available here: http://goo.gl/nyBGV

    Here’s the exceprt: 
    Early on the marches were too small for the government to stop without looking hysterical, and every week they grew only a little. From the government’s pint of view, a small march was to little to crack down on, and the following week a slightly larger march was also too little to crack down on. Not until September did Erich Honecker instruct local governments to “nip these enemy activities in the bud” and “not allow a mass basis for them.” By then it was too late; the protests had long since passed from bud to full flower. WhatHonecker could not have known was that the “mass basis” was measured not by the number of participants but by the number of people who understood the protest was not being punished. The historian Susanne Lohmann calls the Leipzig protests an “information cascade.” Each of the citizens of Leipzig had some threshold at which they might join a protest. Every week the march happened without a crackdown offered additional evidence that the marches provided an outlet for their disaffection; each successful march diminished the fear felt by some additional part of the populace.The military often talks about “shared awareness,” which is the ability of many different people and groups to understand a situation, and to understand who else has the same understanding. If I see a fire break out, and I see that you see it as well, we may more easily coordinate our actions – you call 911, I grab the fire extinguisher – than if I have to call your attention to the fire. Shared awareness allows otherwise uncoordinated groups to begin to work together more quickly and effectively.This kind of social awareness has three levels: when everybody knows something, when everybody knows that everybody knows, and when everybody knows that everybody knows that everybody knows. Many people in the GDR figured out that for themselves that the government was corrupt, and that life under that government was bad; this is the “everyone knows” condition. Over time many of those same people figured out that most of their friends, neighbors, and colleagues knew that as well – “everyone know that everyone knows.” At this point the sentiment was widespread but because no one was talking about what everyone knew, the state never had to respond in any formal way. Finally people in Leipzig could see others acting on the knowledge that the GDR was rotten – “everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone knows.” This shared awareness is the step necessary for real public action: when the people in the streets of Leipzig knew the same thing as did the people watching from their windows.Wir sind das Volk! “We are the People!”By September 1989 this information had cascaded from a small group to a large one, and the marches had grown to tens of thousands of people. In October the number grew to better than a hundred thousand. On the first Monday in November 400.000 people turned out in the streets of Leipzig. By the time the government realized its bluff was being called, no one in the army was willing to turn on so many citizens, and without a credible threat of deadly force to back it up, the East German government simply collapsed.The day after that first November protest the entire East German government resigned. Two days later the dismantling of the Berlin Wall began. The GDR had vanished.The lesson for protesters after Leipzig was that they should protest in ways that the state was unlikely to interfere with, and to distribute evidence of their actions widely. If the state didn’t react, the documentation would serve as evidence that the protesting was safe. If the state did react, then the documentation of the crackdown could be used to spur an international outcry. The lesson for repressive states was the opposite: don’t let any documentation get out. These two lessons set up a cat-and-mouse game between protesters and the protested institutions that continues to this day. As in everything that involves coordinated action, social tools have changed the balance of power in this game.”

  12. ” They should be allowed to have a library at Zuccotti Park.”

    Yes they should be allowed, but unfortunately it’s not. A library is a place where books are stored for distribution.

  13. This is getting uncompromisingly silly on both sides. 

    It is obvious the librarians don’t care enough about their collection to invest in a wagon, and are betting on the public’s affinity for the idea of “books” and “libraries” regardless of the quality or location. The OWS Library seems to be maintained more for rhetorically positioning the protesters then actually promoting literacy. The police and maintenance workers might be guilty of starting the (popular, metaphorical) “fire,” but at some point the protesters and librarians should be held responsible for fanning the flames.

    The crux of the issue is placing an outdoor library in a public park is akin to putting a soup kitchen in a public bathroom. People are hungry, and there are certain conveniences (running water, sinks, etc.) but the two aren’t really well suited to each other.

    1. Ah, the both sides argument. Take a look around the streets of every major city in the US, and there are tons of homeless and destitute people.

      The whole point of a temporary structure for books is to create a community of protest. It has worked miraculously well until now, and the dedication of these people is to be lauded, not dismissed by the contemptuous and cynical tut-tutting of the keyboard naysayers.

      1. You talk about the homeless and destitute, however, OWS have much more in common with the protests at Kent State then Hooverville, for better or worse. 

        Besides, you made my point. The library isn’t about literacy and reading, it is about squatting, and protesting and justifying the squatting and protesting. Which is fine, but lets call it what it is.

        Finally, I agree with their positions, however I disagree with the methods, and I believe the dedication to this protest culture is going to kill any progress towards the fiscal equity they are fighting for. That being said, I have no delusion that my typed dismissal will sway the movement in one way or another.

    2. The OWS Library seems to be maintained more for rhetorically positioning the protesters then actually promoting literacy.

      This is like saying the police are there more to establish their authority than actually being violent, which is putting the cart before the horse. The police (are) establish(ing) their authority through violence. Likewise, your point appears to actually be that promoting literacy is a political act. Why does that mean the library is worthless?

      at some point the protesters and librarians should be held responsible for fanning the flames.

      Aw yea, tha bitch was askin’ for it.

    3. I think a really good thing to donate would be wagons, carts, SOMETHING to move the books away before the cops can get to them. And to volunteer to move such a big collection. I’m assuming that these books are ones the librarians are willing to risk not being returned by patrons, or being exposed to the elements. So a fair amount of these books would be destroyed anyway. But that doesn’t give cops an excuse the right to be spiteful at this point.

  14. Is there some place in the basic tenets of law that give people the right to essentially squat on private property, and then complain when their property isn’t looked after? I actually support the OWS agenda(s), but truly, I’m asking. By the logic of the OWS library, why shouldn’t I be allowed to go to JFK airport and set up a tent in the lobby of the terminal, and start charging people for backrubs? What’s this magical line we’re drawing? If OWS erecting structures and moving actual furniture into a park is protected speech, does this mean that we also have to protect, for instance, the “rights” of a group of skinheads to permanently set up camp in the courtyard of my church in rural massachusetts, move in bookshelves, and hand out Nazi propaganda? If it’s OK to set up a tent city literally anywhere you want, on public or private property, where does the line get drawn?  When I dig a hole for my latrine? When I start making a platform to get my tent off the ground? When I pour a foundation?

    Furniture and Habitation Speech.  

    Again, I say this as someone who AGREES with the issues being argued here. What I have an issue with is methods. Protest, yes. Scream, yes.  Stand solid, yes.  But erect structures and move in your shelves? It smacks of entitlement, not argument.

    1. OWS has succeeded because they have occupied space. That’s the whole point of Occupy. A one-off protest is easily ignored, and that’s the truth of the state of “democracy” in the USA these days.

      And if you have suggestions for the protests why not join one of the General Assemblies? Otherwise, it’s doesn’t go anywhere.

  15. Given the opportunity, I will send them a copy of “The Grapes of Wrath.” For the moment, I’ll leave the movement with this passage:

    “And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history.The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. The money was spent for arms, for gas to protect the great holdings, and spies were sent to catch the murmuring of revolt so that is might be stamped out. The changing economy was ignored, plans for the change ignored; and only means to destroy revolt were considered, while the causes of revolt went on.. . .The great owners formed associations for protection and they met to discuss ways to intimidate, to kill, to gas. And always there were in fear of a principal . . . if they ever move under a leader – the end.. . .And the great owners, who had become through their holdings both more and less than men, ran to their destruction, and used every means that in the long run would destroy them. Every little means, every violence, every raid on a Hooverville, every deputy swaggering through a ragged camp put off the day a little and cemented the inevitability of the day.

Comments are closed.