All the Angry People
A man out of work finds community at Occupy Wall Street.
Until this fall, Ray Kachel had lived virtually all of his fifty-three years within a few miles of his birthplace, in Seattle. He was a self-taught Jack-of-all-trades in the computer industry, who bought his first Mac in 1984. He attended Seattle Central Community College but dropped out; not long afterward, he was hired by a company that specialized in optical character recognition, transferring printed material into digital records for storage. Eventually, Kachel was laid off, but for a long time he continued to make a decent living; keeping up with advances in audio and video production, he picked up freelance work editing online content. He also programmed and played keyboards in a band, and had a gig as a night-club d.j.; sometimes, between technology jobs, he worked in his adoptive parents’ janitorial business. He spent his money on a few pleasures, like microbrewery beer and DVDs. His favorite movie was “Stalker,” the 1979 sci-fi film by Andrei Tarkovsky. “Three guys traipsing through the woods—it’s visually and aurally very, very strange,” Kachel said. “Tarkovsky is famous for painfully long takes, creating an environment that’s uncomfortable without it being clear why.”
Kachel lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment. In the nineties, after his parents died, he became something of a hermit, with just a few friends. Small of stature, with short-cropped hair, drab clothes, and a mild manner, he was the sort of person no one noticed. Then again, a lot of tech workers were antisocial, and the information economy embraced millions of skilled, culturally literate, freelance oddballs. As long as the new economy made room for him, Kachel lived the life he wanted.
When the recession hit, tech jobs in Seattle started drying up. After the death of the owner of his main client—a company for which he did DVD customization—Kachel found that he no longer had contacts for other sources of work. He cut back on expenses and quit drinking beer. Last December, he ordered from Amazon a green, apple-shaped USB stick containing the entire Beatles collection; just before it was scheduled to ship, he cancelled the order. “Around that time, I started realizing spending two hundred fifty dollars on something wasn’t such a good idea,” he said. “I’m glad I made that decision, because I wouldn’t have enjoyed the stereo mix anyway.”
In March, Kachel’s mouth went dry; he felt sick with anxiety and could barely eat. He realized that he was coming to the end of his savings. He could survive as a barista or a delivery driver, but he didn’t think he was capable of chatting with customers all day, and he had stopped driving years earlier. He applied for every tech opening that he could find, but only one offer came, from Leapforce, a company that evaluates Web search results. Kachel signed on as an “At Home independent agent,” doing work on his iMac for thirteen dollars an hour, but the hours soon dwindled to twenty or thirty minutes a day. That was his last job.
Kachel had started tweeting in 2009, and it helped him get to know many people who were in similarly desperate circumstances. This fall, as he was preparing to vacate his apartment, he learned on Twitter that several hundred demonstrators had taken over a park in lower Manhattan.
None of Kachel’s online acquaintances could say what, precisely, had sparked the protest, which began on September 17th. But Occupy Wall Street, as it was called, emerged so spontaneously that it quickly absorbed the pent-up energies of a wide array of people in every corner of the country. Because it was formless and leaderless, the movement passed the test of authenticity—the first requirement for a citizenry that no longer had faith in institutions and élites. Its brilliant slogan, “We Are the Ninety-nine Per Cent,” was simple and capacious enough to cover a multitude of stories, including Kachel’s.
The protesters in Zuccotti Park were angry about things that Kachel recognized from his own life: the injustice of an economic system in which the rich and the powerful sucked the life out of the middle class. He had long felt critical of the big banks, the oil companies, the huge corporations that didn’t pay taxes. Fracking, the hydraulic extraction of natural gas, was a particular concern of Kachel’s. He was also an obsessive follower of Rachel Maddow—he loved her wit, her agreeableness—and Occupy Wall Street was starting to come up on her cable news program.
Kachel had four hundred and fifty dollars from the sale of his copy of Final Cut Pro. For two hundred and fifty, you could travel to New York City on a Greyhound bus. He had never been farther east than Dallas, but New York City was so dense and diverse, and so full of ideas and ways to make money, that if he could learn to exist there he could surely find a place to exist. On the last night of September, he went to bed telling himself, “Oh, this is just absolutely nuts, you can’t do that.” He woke up in the morning with a clear thought: This is exactly what I’m going to do.
Kachel didn’t tell his few friends about his plan. But on the night of October 3rd, on a Wordpress blog that he had set up, he wrote, “About to board a bus to NYC. Not sure if I’ll ever come back to Seattle. . . . I have had some moments of panic, asking myself if I’ve completely lost my mind. That’s entirely possible. But those moments pass quickly and my sense of adventure takes over and I’m ready to hit the road all the more.” He had abandoned most of his remaining possessions; he was travelling with only a small duffel and a daypack, and they contained not much more than a few changes of clothes, a portable hard drive with some of his movies, and a “relatively stupid” cell phone with enough memory to send and download tweets. The bus left at midnight. At five in the morning on October 6th, Kachel arrived at the Port Authority bus terminal, in Manhattan. By 10 A.M., he had made his way downtown to the occupation.
Zuccotti Park—or Liberty Square, as its occupiers called it—takes up a small rectangular block in the financial district, shadowed by skyscrapers, just east of the World Trade Center site. When Kachel arrived, the leaves on the park’s fifty-five honey-locust trees were still green. Tents were forbidden by the city, and the overnight occupiers had to lay blue tarps on unforgiving granite.
At the west end of the park, a drum circle rolled out a wild, interminable beat, adrenaline for the occupiers and annoyance for the neighbors. The drummers’ area, called “the ghetto,” was made up of hard-core anarchists and long-term homeless people, a world unto itself, where interlopers were made to feel unwelcome. The center of the park was crowded with various hubs dedicated to the occupation’s self-organization: the kitchen tarp, where food prepared on the outside and delivered was served to anyone who lined up; the comfort station, where occupiers could obtain donated wet wipes, toiletries, and articles of clothing; the recycling site, where protesters composted food waste and took turns pedalling a stationary bike to generate battery power; the library, with several thousand volumes stacked high on tables; the open-air studio, where computers and cameras streamed live footage of the occupation twenty-four hours a day.
At the east end of the park, along the wide sidewalk next to Broadway, beneath a sculpture of soaring red steel beams called “Joie de Vivre,” the occupation and the public merged. Demonstrators stood in a row, displaying signs as if hawking wares, while workers on their lunch hour and tourists and passersby stopped to look, take pictures, talk, argue. An elderly woman sat in a chair and read aloud from Hart Crane’s “The Bridge.” Another woman stood silently while holding up a copy of Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men”—day after day. An old man in a sports coat and golf cap: “For: Regulated Capitalism. Against: Obscene Inequality. Needed: Massive Jobs Program.” A union electrician in a hard hat: “Occupy Wall Street. Do It for Your Kids.” A woman in a blue nurse’s smock: “This R.N. Is Sickened by Wall Street Greed. Trust Has Been Broken.” A young woman in jeans: “Where Did My Future Go? Greed Took It.” The crowd was dense, the talk overlapping.
Kachel, exhausted from his cross-country trip, was overwhelmed by the pandemonium. He could barely sleep, as the only bedding he had was a thermal wrap made of Mylar. At one point, someone told him that a shower could be arranged at the comfort station. When he arrived, there was no shower to be had, and suddenly he was confronted with the fact of being broke and homeless in a strange city. He withdrew into himself, curling up to sleep in his fleece and waterproof shell on the steps near the east side of the park.
One day, Kachel overheard a group of young occupiers, who were sitting on the steps just a few feet away, talking about him as if he weren’t there. “He’s not going to make it here doing that,” one of them said. “He isn’t taking care of himself.” They were right—his socks and shoes, drenched in a rainstorm, had been wet for several days. Kachel saw that he couldn’t survive in the park alone. He had to become part of the collective in an unreserved way—something that he’d never done.
He volunteered for the newly formed Sanitation Working Group. To keep warm after dark, he spent part of each night scrubbing the paths and the sidewalks. Another occupier, seeing Kachel working, gave him a sleeping bag and a tarp. Kachel began making friends: Sean, an Irish immigrant from the Bronx who worked the graveyard shift spraying fire retardant on steel, then came downtown to spend his days at Zuccotti; a homeless substitute teacher with a degree in physics; Chris, a drifter from Tarpon Springs, Florida, who had been so outraged by a YouTube video of a New York City police officer squirting women protesters in the face with pepper spray that he had ridden the rails to Manhattan in order to defend female honor.
Kachel found a sign that said “Ban Fracking Now” and, after working on his delivery, spent a few days talking to strangers on the sidewalk along the south side of the park. It was a little like acting, and he discovered that he was willing to speak out. He tweeted regularly, and soon had more than thirteen hundred followers. Perhaps readers were drawn to the modesty and the objectivity of Kachel’s notes on the occupation. October 8th: “There are elements of communal living. it’s a really amazing experience tho totally out of my comfort level.” October 22nd: “It surprises me i have a guardian angel. it doesn’t surprise me he’s a soft-spoken, hard working Irish guy from the bronx.” October 23rd: “Dear mr. ferguson. i have lived in new york for over two weeks now. it does not smell of wee.” October 27th: “Keep seeing reference to ‘horrendous police abuse’ re: ows. I’ve been here 2+ weeks and have seen none and heard of little.” November 13th: “I lived in my old apartment in Seattle for nearly a decade and barely knew 2 other tenants. . . . i’ve lived in liberty square for just over a month and regularly talk with many of my neighbors and have made many new friends.”
So he didn’t panic when, one rain-swept night, his duffel was stolen as he slept, and water entered the tarp in which he was rolled up, soaking his sleeping bag, and he stayed calm when his daypack—including the portable hard drive—was taken away the next morning by zealous members of the Sanitation Working Group who were clearing out waterlogged objects, leaving Kachel with nothing but the clothes he had on. He simply turned to his new friends for help, and was given a dry sleeping bag. By then, he belonged to the occupation. Liberty Square was his home.
On the evening of Wednesday, October 12th, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Zuccotti Park would be cleared for cleaning on Friday morning. On Thursday night, a thousand demonstrators went to the park to protest the Mayor’s order. At around six the next morning, Bloomberg reversed himself, and when the news was shared in the park the response was euphoric—the high point of the occupation. That morning, a woman named Michelle Brotherton was standing in the crowd on the Broadway sidewalk. She came down to the park for an hour at a time, between shifts as a bartender at a West Village pub and sessions writing a novel. Because she was very tall, in an elegant trenchcoat, with vivid red lipstick and chic glasses and a prominent chin, everyone stopped to read her sign: “I am a working New Yorker with a full-time job. I pay federal, state & city taxes. I choose to occupy Wall St. and this park.” It was written on a piece of cardboard from the envelope containing her master’s degree—a major source of her hundred thousand dollars in student-loan debt.
“We’re in a dire situation in this country,” Brotherton said, quietly. She came from a small town in Illinois, and was the daughter of a single mother who worked in a factory. “If I have an enormous pain in my chest, I go to my doctor,” she said. “We shouldn’t wait—the country has an enormous pain in its chest. We have this citizenship in this country that is capable of so much. This is an opportunity to protest what we complain about in our homes all the time.” She wondered how C.E.O.s could live with their vast wealth after being bailed out by ordinary people who were now suffering: “I can’t imagine, as a human being, being comfortable with that money, and walking down a street in any town and seeing people, who gave that money, being in need.” She had no idea where the movement would go. “This is in its embryonic stages. The important thing is dialogue, discussion. Talking.”
Farther down the row were two friends: Shira Moss, thirty, and Mazal Ben-Moshe, twenty-seven. Moss had a degree in midwifery but no job; Ben-Moshe was studying social work. Ben-Moshe volunteered for Barack Obama in 2008, and both were thrilled when he became President.
“As soon as he was elected, we disappeared,” Ben-Moshe said. “I didn’t vote last year. It was inexcusable.”
Moss, who had arrived at the park at 5:30 A.M., was impressed by the size of the crowd. “There’s never been anything like this in my lifetime,” she said. “I wanted this all my life.”
A few guys in hard hats, on their lunch break from construction work on 4 World Trade Center, walked by and checked out the signs. One of them, Mike, saluted the protesters. “There’s no work for us anymore—we’re out of work a year at a time,” he said. “It’s because of them”—he waved toward the financial district. “The people who are holding us back. The banks, the government, anyone who controls the money.”
Two middle-aged men had stopped in front of Moss and begun to argue with her in heavy Russian accents. “Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela is ultimate destination of what you’re doing,” the first Russian said.
“My wife is midwife—she has job,” the second man said.
“Congratulations, that’s great,” Moss said.
“You can get job, too.”
“I’d love one. Can’t find one.”
“This is waste of your time. Go look for job—put your time into that.”
“Bottom line: go to North Korea,” the first Russian said. “This is your final destination.”
Among the onlookers was a fortyish man in a baseball cap who worked in financial services—he was an analyst for one of the ratings agencies. He had a sneaking sympathy with the cause. Some of his colleagues found the protest movement funny, but others felt as he did—that inequities and corruption in the banking system harmed them as well. He listened to the Russians argue with Moss, then told the first one, “There are oligarchs in Russia. Do you see any connection between that and what she’s saying?”
The first Russian said, “This is government problem, this is not banks’ problem.”
The second Russian complained about the people in Zuccotti. “They smoke in park! This is illegal. They think they are superior.”
“True or false,” Moss said. “Things are absolutely fair for everyone in this country.”
“True,” the second Russian said.
A chorus of voices: “False!”
Russell Garofalo, a thirty-two-year-old accountant from Brooklyn, was also on the sidewalk. This area of the park was kind of Socratic, he thought. “You can feel the tension of improvised reality,” he said. Stiff-backed and round-faced, with curly dark hair and skinny pants, Garofalo was neither a sign-holder nor an onlooker. He came to express support by his presence. His job was to be a body—that was as far as he could go, for now.
When he was in his early twenties, Garofalo had watched his mother and stepfather, who lived in Arizona, fall out of the middle class. First, his stepfather was laid off from his job as a managing systems engineer at a computer company that was failing—escorted out of the building after eleven years of employment. His parents started a small import business that failed. To keep their house, they had to commute an hour to jobs that paid less than what Garofalo was making, waiting on tables in Scottsdale. “My stepfather is one of the most principled people I know,” he said. “It was such a clear death of the American Dream—there’s no safety net. You worked all your life and are a good person and it doesn’t matter. You’re really prone to getting fucked. These aren’t people on the fringe. We’re not even near the bottom.”
Garofalo moved to New York in 2005, to try his luck at standup comedy and improv. After taking an accounting course, he started doing the taxes of friends who were also freelancers. The work introduced him to the details of income inequality. “I see the distress people go through, and I can put a number to it,” he said. “It’s not just ‘I’m unhappy.’ It’s ‘I have ten thousand dollars’ debt.’ My clients are pretty close to doing what they want to do, but they’re not there yet and they’re asking themselves if it’s going to work. There’s this glimmer of optimism and hope, and it wears out over an artistic life. It hasn’t worn out yet, but they don’t know if they’re going to make it, and I tell them they owe four hundred dollars and it’s a ton of bricks. They’re not going to cry, but their voices change and their faces go blank.”
This year, Garofalo earned thirty thousand dollars doing taxes—the first time he had what he called “lower-class fuck-you money.” Still, he couldn’t afford health insurance—Obama’s health-care-reform law had so far done nothing to change this—and the thought that an illness could destroy his family angered him. The more he learned about money and politics, the more he was beset by a persistent sense that he didn’t matter. You were a dupe if you believed that any established institution was on the level. But there was no way to express it.
Garofalo first stopped by Zuccotti Park on October 5th—the day of a big march to Foley Square. The rebellion attracted him, but there were elements that he disliked: the hippie clichés, the whining, and the endless meetings, which reminded him why he worked alone. He was also wary of feeling like a fool for caring about something—he wasn’t one to spend his life trying to save the wolves. But, when Bloomberg announced that the park would be cleared, Garofalo felt galvanized: he wanted to defend the occupation. As the afternoon of October 13th went on and he discussed the impending closing of the park with friends online, Garofalo got madder. He began calling local officials and the property company that owned Zuccotti, telling them to keep the park open. He posted on his Facebook page the text of an e-mail he’d sent to the Mayor’s office: “I’m very angry about your sham cleaning and rule changing to end Occupy Wall Street. You’re taking the heart of this movement and shutting it down. A few days ago you said they could stay but apparently it’s only on your terms. You’re fucking up.”
That evening, Garofalo’s girlfriend asked him if he was going to the park. He hadn’t planned to do so, but he asked himself what kind of life he wanted to look back on, and he knew that he’d be ashamed not to have been there.
The sense of togetherness in the park that night was like nothing he’d ever felt. Garofalo still found the drummers annoying, and the activists who dreamed of an alternate world of pure democracy, without rules, were not for him. Still, he now felt responsible for keeping Occupy Wall Street going. He wanted others to make the pilgrimage: “If you bring someone down here for a day, they’ll attach so much emotion to being here that it will have an effect next year, even if this isn’t here the day before the election.”
A period in Garofalo’s life had ended—the period when being amusing was the highest goal because being serious felt futile. He was now ready to carry a sign on the sidewalk along Broadway. He stayed up nights trying to think of the right one: “I have a job, but I think being here is important”; “You’re cynical, lazy, and would be ashamed to tell your kids you did nothing.” Finally, one morning, he went down to Zuccotti Park with a signboard that said, in red block letters, “I Don’t Have a Lobbyist, Can I Still Have 3/5 of a Vote?” Garofalo was split, seventy-thirty, on his own sign: he thought that it was witty, but the reference to slavery was only a few steps away from invoking the Nazis. Yet he stood on the sidewalk for more than an hour and held the sign aloft while people paused to read it.
Why is the protest happening now? Why not in 2008, when Wall Street nearly collapsed, or 2009, when unemployment and foreclosures soared? For Ben-Moshe, Obama’s election seemed like the end of the battle, not the beginning, and it took her three years to return to the field. Garofalo thought that his generation needed to be inspired and then let down by Obama in order to realize that they had always expected someone else to do the heavy lifting. Michelle Brotherton didn’t understand the precise reasons for the financial crisis in 2008, but in the following years she saw two concrete results: ongoing distress for the majority of Americans, a quick rebound for the rich. In living rooms and in bars, she and her friends grumbled about the injustice of it all, until their cynicism made the topic moot.
Before Occupy Wall Street, the economic upheavals of the past few years produced no organized movement of the have-nots. For some Americans, Obama’s legislative initiatives—the stimulus, health-care reform, financial regulation, credit-card reform—offered the best hope for easing the country’s hardship. The Tea Party, a populist movement of the right with heavy support from wealthy individuals and corporations, captured the media’s interest, dominated the political discourse, and explained the country’s woes in terms that ignored the role of the one per cent. But the Obama Administration failed to harness public anger or turn the economy around, and the Tea Party wore out its welcome after the 2010 elections. When Occupy Wall Street lit a match, the wood was bone-dry. Suddenly, there was a dramatic, public way to talk about problems—money in politics, income inequality, corporate greed—that frustrated Americans but seemed intractable.
“We are the ninety-nine per cent” has become a clarifying slogan for the public’s inchoate discontent. A Tumblr blog that takes the phrase as its name has assembled a gallery of hundreds of anonymous people holding up personal statements written on pieces of paper. From November 17th (the face is obscured by the sign):
I did everything they told me to, in order to be successful. I got straight A’s and a scholarship. I went to University and got a degree. Now I’m sinking in student debt, unable to get a job. I have an eviction notice on my door, and nowhere to go. I have only $42 in the bank. I AM THE 99%!
From November 15th (a woman’s blurry features peer out from behind her sign):
I am a 37 year old who makes $8.00 an hour. . . . Our assistant and general managers make a decent 5 figures to do nothing but talk about employees/customers. I don’t get 10 minute breaks, nor 30 minute meal periods. After paying Insurance, Federal & State taxes, Social Security, Medicare, I am left working for the gas money to get to work. I AM PISSED!
When dozens of these compressed life stories are read in a row, they amass the moral force of a Steinbeck novel. They explain why Occupy Wall Street became an instant brand across the country. In mid-October, in Greensboro, North Carolina, a march of seven hundred people was organized with little advance notice, largely through social media. As long as Occupy Wall Street speaks the language of inequality and powerlessness as simply and directly as the self-portraits on Tumblr, it will resonate with millions of Americans. The most important facts about our society, widely known but seldom mentioned, are now the first order of conversation. Dylan Byers, of Politico, recently reported that the use of the phrase “income inequality” in the media has more than quintupled since the beginning of the occupation. In this sense, Occupy Wall Street has already done its work. The point is what was happening on the Broadway sidewalk. No one should expect this protean flame to transform itself into a formal political organization with a savvy strategy for enacting reforms and winning elections. That’s someone else’s job.
In late October, the city stopped enforcing the rule against tents. Kachel, who had inherited a zero-degree sleeping bag and a one-man tent when the substitute teacher landed a share in a loft, claimed a patch of ground eighteen inches by six feet along the south side. Zuccotti Park quickly filled up with tents, so that it became hard to walk through, and Kachel found that this closed off the park from the public, making it less lively and more squalid.
He rose early every morning and walked a few blocks to watch the sun come up over the East River, then explored the Lower East Side and Chinatown before wending his way back to Zuccotti Park. The fishbowl intensity of the park was starting to get to him—lyrics from the old XTC song “Senses Working Overtime” kept running through his head. He spent his days charging his phone at a Starbucks in the United States Realty Building, around the corner from the park, and taking care of other mundane business. He ate so little that it didn’t matter if he was down to just a few dollars, as long as the park’s kitchen continued serving food. Around 9 P.M., Kachel slipped into his tent, watched the Twitter feed for “The Rachel Maddow Show” on his phone, then went to sleep early in order to get a few hours’ rest before the noise of young people partying nearby woke him up. He never slept more than four or five hours. One night, the park was filled with a sustained chorus of howling.
Kachel found that it wasn’t easy staying active in Occupy Wall Street. He got involved in an Occupy Central Park group, but it faded when the city refused to issue a permit. He rarely attended the nightly general assemblies by the red sculpture, where a system of call-and-repeat, known as “the human microphone,” carried on for hours and nothing was ever resolved. The movement seemed to be losing its hold on the ordinary public. The same issue of its newspaper, the Occupied Wall Street Journal, was handed out for weeks. A loud lunatic element marred the conversations along Broadway. There were dozens of “working groups,” and many of them held meetings a few blocks from the park, in the atrium of the Deutsche Bank Building, on Wall Street. But a few activists dominated these groups, in an insular conversation about “the process” that kept returning to ideas for restructuring into smaller groups in order to refine the process and make it “more inclusive.” A division was opening up between the activists in the atrium and the occupiers in the park. At one meeting of the Facilitation Working Group, a man asked Kachel—an unfamiliar face—why he was there.
Kachel knew why he was there. “As a symbol, the park needs to stay occupied,” he said. “If they say, ‘O.K., we’ll listen to what you’re saying—let’s everybody chill out and go home and we’ll continue the discussion,’ the focus goes away, the TV trucks go away, and people become complacent and get into their reality shows, and who knows what kind of bubbles get burst.”
In November, as the leaves on the honey locusts turned yellow, the occupation started to fray. Zuccotti Park acquired a desperate edge; it felt more like a Hooverville than like a sit-in. In what Kachel called his “neighborhood,” the appearance of a ratty sofa aroused considerable tension. Chris, the drifter from Florida, had hauled the sofa off a city street. But it attracted revellers who had no interest in the movement, and it took up space that could go to two tents, so after much discussion the sofa was handed over to the drum circle. Then, one night, it was back. While Kachel lay zipped up in his tent, a few feet away, Chris, who had been drinking vodka, and another man got into an argument over the sofa that ended in Chris landing a punch and being led off by the police. Within a few days, he was back.
Shortly after midnight on November 15th, a week after the sofa incident, Kachel woke up to a clamor of voices. He soon made sense of what people were saying: the police were moving in. The park lights were shut off and a bank of klieg lights from the north end flooded the tents. Kachel put his shoes on and stepped outside his tent to see a cop walking through the park, handing out leaflets that instructed occupiers to leave or be arrested. Loudspeakers blared the same announcement: Zuccotti Park was being closed, because of fire and health concerns. Quickly, Kachel took down his tent. He packed his belongings into a plastic bin and carried it out of the park, along with his sleeping bag and pad. He began crossing Broadway as a wave of police swept into the park and tore down everything in their path.
The streets of lower Manhattan filled with people who had heard the news. They hurled rage and contempt at the cops, who were in riot gear, and who forcibly kept them away from the park. Meanwhile, police vans, corrections buses, and even a backhoe rumbled down Broadway, and helicopters hovering overhead pointed searchlights down on the streets. The financial district had become a militarized zone, and Kachel’s only thought was of escape.
He followed the route of his morning walks, now lugging his worldly possessions. He went past the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, past the headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank (where he still had forty-two cents left in an account that he’d opened with Washington Mutual, before it imploded during the financial crisis and was acquired by Chase), past the A.I.G. Building, then under the F.D.R. Drive to the East River. He wanted to get away from all the tumult, and he found an isolated spot just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, where he sat on a bench and tweeted: “Earlier than usual i’m at what has become a favorite morning spot. i fear i be no much of an occupier as i’ve left behind my comrades.” Every now and then, a police helicopter appeared overhead, but he was pretty well hidden.
Kachel kept checking Twitter, but by four in the morning there was still no word about where the evicted occupiers were going to gather again, and his phone battery was dying. He was determined to find his comrades and help rekindle the movement that had so strongly connected him to other people. For the moment, though, he was alone: a homeless man in New York. ♦