A couple of weeks ago, activist Mark Read was preparing to project a message—now dubbed the "bat signal"—onto the Verizon Building for Occupy Wall Street's two-month anniversary. He had gotten a 12K lumen projector from an anonymous donor. He had secured collaborators Max Nova and JR Skola of the art group Dawn of Man. But in order to sustain the projections for more than a few minutes, he needed a room to set up shop. He posted signs in the public housing complex across the way from Verizon, offering $250 for three hours of window use.
"None of the calls seemed to be working out," Mark Read says of the days leading up to last Thursday's protest. "I was preparing to just go back and stalk the building or the lobby."
That's when he heard from Denise Vega, a native New Yorker and single mother of three who was down for the OWS cause from the get-go.
"A couple of times I got off the train station where people had the tents," Vega says. "I had walked through so many times and was like, 'Wow, this is emotional, this is awesome, I'm so happy this is going on.' I thought, 'It'd be nice to get involved with this.'"
When Read visited the apartment and realized her bedroom window had a perfect view of the Verizon building, Vega told him, "Let's do this." She and her sister agreed to take the money, but after she saw the coverage of Zuccotti Park's eviction on the news, she had a change of heart.
"I called [Read] back and said, 'How 'bout you don't pay me? This is for the people,'" says Vega, a customer service agent for a national company. "It's not about the money. It's about being together and trying to fight what's right. We've got millions of people looking for work. It's bad out there."
For Vega, the night of the protest was intensely gratifying. "Everybody was excited," she says. "Even the cops downstairs, they were looking at the projector and taking pictures." Two of her daughters, ages 17 and 22, were by her side, too.
"That was the best part for me," she says. "At one point my older daughter turns and says to me, 'Mom, you are the bomb.'" We couldn't agree more.
Photo courtesy of Mark Read.