Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer

Fathema ShadidaJared Malsin Fathema Shadida in Union Square Park

Since members of the Occupy Wall Street movement launched their attempted occupation of Union Square three weeks ago, the protesters have engaged in a nightly tug-o-war with police. The occupiers have responded to the nightly closure of Union Square Park and arrests with rap battles, sleep-ins and dangling donuts on strings.

But who are the men and women seeking to occupy the square? In hopes of learning more about our new neighbors (some of them old neighbors, actually), The Local spoke with 10 core activists, all of whom have spent at least one night sleeping on the edge of Union Square, and all of whom are dedicating their days to the new protest camp. Here are the vitals on two of them, with more to come every day this week.

Name: Fathema Shadida
Age: 57
Originally from: Sahara, Egypt
Current residence: Brooklyn
Job before joining occupy: New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol Officer
Current job: Collecting unemployment, full-time occupier
Looking for work? “I’m busy defending your right to have [a job].”
Ideology: “I’m a humanitarian.”
Claim to fame within the movement: Declined to answer. “We all try to be very supportive, and more or less low-key, because we couldn’t do this without all of us. There’s no one person. It’s about all of us.”
Why occupy? “We need to do change. There’s so much going on. It’s not just here, it’s globally, and I think collectively we can help affect that change, if only by creating a dialogue.”
Favorite music: Drum music
Favorite book: “Revolution 2.0,” by Egyptian Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim
Other causes: Homeless outreach, long-time volunteer medic and relief worker with Red Cross/Red Crescent, including at the World Trade Center site following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Opinion of Mayor Bloomberg: “I’m not crazy about him. I don’t think he’s people-friendly. I don’t think he’s average-Joe-friendly. He’s too far removed from everybody’s life.”
Opinion of President Obama and the Democrats: “When Obama went ahead and passed that rule, the NDAA, on New Year’s Eve, that’s grimy. At least give people a chance to see if they’re comfortable with it or not.”
Favorite revolutionary leader: Gandhi
Favorite cop: “Least favorite would be Lombardo.”

Tim “Chyno” ChinJared Malsin

Name: Tim “Chyno” Chin
Age: 24
Originally from: Baltimore
Current residence: Full time occupier, staying in Union Square
Current job: “I have a couple of social media positions as an independent contractor as well as working for DMV Jams.”
Ideology: “That’s still up for discussion.”
Claim to fame within the movement: “I’m Chyno, and I always have Scrabble.”
Why occupy? “My parents died fighting for this country in 2004 in Afghanistan. So I’m doing what I feel is the best that I can do to fight to save our country against, basically, itself.”
Favorite music: Adele and Lauryn Hill
Favorite book: Every book by John Grisham
Other causes: GLBT activism, ACT-UP, Equality Maryland
Number of Occupy-related arrests: 3 (Twice in Baltimore, once in New York on March 17 for “giving an officer a flower.”)
Opinion of Mayor Bloomberg: “There are a lot of bridges in New York. I think that he should find one and jump from it. It’s beyond me, how repulsed I am by the way he runs this city.”
Opinion of President Obama and the Democrats: “They’re getting on my damn nerves also. They’re not doing what they should be doing.”
Favorite revolutionary leader: Gandhi
Favorite cop: “They all suck. I did meet these two lady cops though and I had a good conversation with them. They explained to me that they have to put food on the table. My least favorite is Hipster Cop.”