Bray is volunteering as a spokesperson, because he feels he can best serve this movement by articulating its message. He goes on to express a sentiment I will hear throughout my time with the Occupiers; the perception that mainstream media want to present this as extreme, or fragmented, or incomprehensible. “Listen, there are very unusual people here, and I see reporters trying to find the craziest looking person to get a sound bite,” he says. “We’re not trying to prevent these interviews, but we’re just here to provide a thought out answer from the press committee’s perspective.”
Next stop, the internet table, where Drew Hornbein is sitting in front of a sign-up sheet for volunteers. He explains that the internet group is like the media team and press team, a semi-autonomous section of the General Assembly, and their objective “is not the conversation itself, but facilitating it.” Horbein says his team runs the New York City general assembly (NYCGA) webpage.
The NYCGA is the governing body of New York City’s Occupy Wall Street; it meets every evening at 7 pm, where all the committees come and discuss their thoughts and needs. It is open to all who want to attend, and anyone can speak. And while there is no named leader, some of the members do routinely moderate the general assembly meetings. Hornbein and the Internet team update the minutes from every meeting, along with other need-to-know information for organizers.
The big project they are working on now is getting Internet to the park as a whole, which Hornbein says will help, “eliminate the information hierarchy.” He explains that right now, the media area has the computers and the connection, but because “they have a job to do,” it is cut off from everyone else. “We’re trying to create this model society but at the same time we’re recreating some of the bad things,” he says. “Our big concern is to get Internet to the rest of the park.“
The Internet table is in its first day, but Hornbein has been working as part of this committee since July, when the call to Occupy Wall Street first went out from AdBusters. He says he used to work as a freelance graphic designer, but quit as soon as he heard about this protest, “I was working on this dinky little e-commerce site that gets 500 hits a day,” he said. “Now I am working on a site that is getting 50,000 to 100,000.”
As it got closer to the time of the march, almost 3 pm, I headed back over to the media table, hoping that people are back from their meeting. They weren’t, but I do meet Todd Graham, a freelance artist. He has a tag around his neck, with the handwritten words, Todd, Occupy Media Team. He works gathering audio and pictures for the live feed. He tells me that at first, he was skeptical about the demonstration—thrown off by the ambiguity. But he started coming everyday, attending General Assembly meetings, and decided to help. He says media team meetings are usually centered around coordinating where different people like him will be, to make sure they have all points covered, recorded, and beamed to the world.
Graham tells me I must meet Monica Lopez, one of the primary organizers behind the livestream. She traveled from Spain to Wall Street, after spending the last four months demonstrating in Madrid. She says she is a freelance photojournalist, and came to help with the media; she is considered an expert on this topic by other members of the team. While we talk we are interrupted by an electricity crisis:
“The generator is off!” someone shouts. “We need gas for the generators,” the man continues, and Lopez gets up to help.
I see Brian Phillips, the ex-Marine, head over to a microphone, which I am surprised to see since he said the rules were no amplification. “Mic check,” he shouts, to a resounding “mic check!”