The rhythm of the mic check and the low beat of the drums. I was late to Union Square. Reams of people were moving past me, last of the Million Hoodie Marchers, coming back from midtown.
From a few blocks away, above the bodies, storefronts and trees, a pink fog hovered in the night air, a gaseous pool collecting the harsh light of the red and blue coming off the top of cop cars.
To get into the square, you had to find a space between stone-faced cops and empty police vans. They blocked the road. Forever 21 and Best Buy looked like embassies in a war zone. Two big yellow Occupy banners faced off against the Whole Foods sign across the street, from the second floor café people looked out and watched.
The first words I heard clearly in the square came from a small crowed that mic checked, “We’re sorry!” Captured by the bath of camera light, holding court, was a young black woman draped in desert camo, her hair big and natural. With one arm raised holding one side of an Occupy banner, she looked like a tank girl version of liberty. Around her were angry people looking for answers, they wanted to know why the Occupiers took over the space once the March began. “ I feel bad,” she explained, the crowd repeated, “ But we had to keep the space” she said, the crowd repeated, “From the cops.” Everyone nodded, “from the cops.”
A few steps away a fight was brewing, “I told you nicely to move,” said a runt of a white boy, hard faced with blood red cheeks, to a pip squeak of a black kid, his windbreaker 2 sizes to large, “ but you wouldn’t listen so now….” The pipsqueak shoved the runt before the runt could finish, and with that they were a tumbleweed falling over themselves, fists and faces, until black, brown and white boys pulled them away from each other. Quick to recover, his black lip bleeding, the pipsqueak said, “ I swear I didn’t want to touch you.”
Beyond the fight, and the mic check crowd, there was really nothing going on; beards, cameras, and a few grey hoodies. Everyone wondering what comes next.
From inside the square the pink fog was gone, obliterated by the lights of the park, and the canopy of night.