Five Things in New York City that are dirtier than Zuccotti Park

Ari Spool

Occupy Wall Street protestors

These guys look like they could use a bath, I guess. But is that really the point? By Edwina Hay

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Mayor Bloomberg stated today that he believed health and safety conditions were intolerable at Zuccotti Park. But instead of putting together a community based task force or something, he unleashed hundreds of police officers in the middle of the night to roust everyone. Predictably, these really dirty and unhealthy people didn't go easy, and they were prepared: Barricades for blocks, the subway and Brooklyn Bridge shut down so the crowd couldn't rush to help, an LRAD acoustic sound weapon stationed near the park to deafen protestors, and what must have been hundreds upon hundreds of NYPD, including their SWAT surveillance unit, Technical Assistance Resource Unit, which has gotten in trouble before for filming peaceful protests unconstitutionally.

The crackdown caused more health and safety problems than it solved, although they certainly got that park squeaky fucking clean. For instance, they caused a major health issue for City Councilman Ydannis Rodiguez, who was beaten and then arrested for resisting arrest. (Resisting arrest is such a bunk charge if there is no accompanying charge—resisting what arrest? it's so confusing.) Or, think of all the homeless people who had been making Zuccotti Park their home; it's certainly a health and safety problem to return them to the streets.

But whatever. If Bloomberg wants the city to be clean, that's a good thing, right? Who am I to argue? In fact, why don't I just make a wonderful checklist for him, so he remembers to wipe up every last smudge. Here's a list of things that are even DIRTIER than Zuccotti Park. Mayor, Mayor! Help us clean THESE!

1. Every subway station.

I spent a good amount of time at Zuccotti, and I didn't see ONE rat. Also, they had entire teams of people that seemed to be CONSTANTLY changing trash bags and scrubbing and cleaning. When was the last time you saw someone scrub anything in the subway? The Canal Street JMZ entrance on Centre smells so strongly of urine I saw a lady get kind of woozy. Urine is ammonia, which is a noxious fume, and is very dangerous in a closed air environment. But things aren't going to get better – the MTA, who were complicit in last night's raid, are cutting cleaning staff and even trying an experiment where they remove garbage cans to keep stations cleaner (?). Hey Bloomberg: this is an extremely dirty situation. Can you send your crews in?

2. The Hole.

It's actually a neighborhood called Lindenwood. It's on the Brooklyn/Queens Border, and it's 30 feet below grade, meaning that the area is marshy in places and everything floods all the time. They don't have sewers. The mob used to dump bodies there – now people who are not associated with the mob dump bodies there. It's weird. And dirty. Needs some scrubbing. Bloomberg, you in?

3. The housing stock

Unless you make enough money to pay more than $1000 a month for rent in this city, you are guaranteed to live in a dump. You shouldn't be paying more than one-third of your income towards your rent, so that means you have to make more than $36,000 a year to not live in a total shithole. Seems attainable, but then you think that the unemployment rates and poverty rates are at record highs, almost 20%, which means that there are two million people and families that can't afford those kinds of prices. Totally fucked. Hey Bloomberg, can you help us clean this up a little?

4. The air

One in four low-income children in New York have asthma, and almost half of our homeless children do. The air is terrible here. Sure, they are building bike lanes and trying to plant trees, and they give medication to the asthmatic children, but really what the city needs is good, old fashioned de-incentivization towards drivers. Toll the East River bridges, even just 2.50, so that everyone who goes into Manhattan (except bikers and walkers) at least pay the same base price. That seems like an easier job than hiring thugs to beat protesters, right Mike? (Maybe not. Thugs are cheap these days.)

5. The NYPD

Speaking of thugs… If the New York City Police Department wants to look for dirty conspirators, it has no further to look than it's own ranks. Here's a list of the nasty, nasty things cops in New York have been up to in the last couple months, from the New York Times: “Police officers are accused of fixing tickets in the Bronx, smuggling guns in Brooklyn, planting drugs on innocent people on Staten Island and the undercover surveillance of mosques and various Muslim leaders.” Bloomberg! It's so dirty! Can you clean that up please?

But here's the point: all those officers last night probably got overtime, and the city is continuing to spend massive amounts of money to fight the Occupy Wall Street movement. And it's not only in New York – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admitted today that she was on a conference call with the mayors of 18 other cities who had Occupation Camps, and that they conferred on the best way to remove protestors.

What these mayors don't understand is that if they even attempted to spend this kind of money on some of the social services and reforms that the protesters are even vaguely looking for, they might actually see some of the occupiers pat themselves on the back, pack their suitcases, and head along into the sunset. Mayors of America, and especially Mike Bloomberg: if you want to clean something, I would suggest trying your own hands.

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