Peculiar Décor

Notes on the Gaza solidarity encampments

I WAS STANDING OUTSIDE City College (CCNY) on 139th and Amsterdam with a small crowd, faced down by thirty or so cops, on the night of the big raids on both the Columbia and CCNY Palestine solidarity encampments. The area around the campus had been sealed off, and with the clearing of tents already underway, there wasn’t much we could do besides berate the police and let out cries of support for the detained students being hauled onto MTA buses. Residents of the nearby apartments were on their fire escapes or stoops or leaning out their windows watching the protest, sometimes joining in.

The blockade and the late hour meant that most of the businesses on Amsterdam were shut and the street was dark, save for a gentle light that emanated from a Dominican barbershop. Three men were inside drinking beer and listening to the radio, apparently unbothered by the scene just outside. At one point, finally curious, one of the men stepped out, looked around, and began chanting “NYPD, suck my dick!” The crowd quickly followed suit. The barbershop crew struck up conversations wi…

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