Between noon and 1 pm on Thursday 11 October 2001, the New York Surveillance Camera Players (NY SCP) performed an ambulatory version of It's OK, Officer in the area between the Astor Place Cube and Washington Square Park in Manhattan. Timed to coincide with the one month anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this performance came just a few days after the NY SCP performed the play in the United Nations area. Originally scheduled to take place in front of a webcam in Times Square, this second performance of the play was re-located to the Astor Place/Washington Square Park area -- home to thousands of students enrolled in New York University (NYU) -- at the last minute because the webcam wasn't working (networks interrupted or damaged by the attack).
Though It's OK, Officer was written well before the disaster, it says a great deal about what New York City has become since then: i.e., an armed camp in which both military and law enforcement authorities demand to know what its citizens are doing out in public. On the day the NY SCP wandered around from camera to camera in the NYU student ghetto, the National Guard had posted a uniformed unit there, even though there are no likely targets for a terrorist attack in the area. (As before 11 September 2001, the area had a good number of surveillance cameras, many of them operated by NYU.)
The NY SCP, which on this occasion was composed of Bill, Miranda, Kristin and new-comer Kate, were very pleased with the way(s) their performance was received. Unlike some of the recent anti-war protests that members of the NY SCP have attended or heard about, the staging of It's OK, Officer didn't bring down upon the performers an intermittent shower of epithets, ugly comments and other robust expressions of "patriotism" (i.e., ignorance and fear). Contrary to the many news reports that (continue to) say that "the vast majority" of American citizens are perfectly willing to give up "some" of their freedoms for "increased security," the NY SCP once again found that their fellow New Yorkers do not see their options as a simple choice between keeping their constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and being "safe" from terrorism. One can be both free and safe!
Occasionally stopping their peripatetic performance to hand out generic SCP flyers to people who'd stopped to watch it, the members of the group had several very interesting (and encouraging!) conversations about the importance of speaking out in favor of and protecting our collective and individual civil rights, despite -- and even because of -- the phony "war on terrorism." Among the most interesting conversations took place between the NY SCP and the construction workers employed by NYU on their lunch-break. (One of the boards in It's OK, Officer shows a human figure waving to a surveillance camera and saying "Just going to work.") A woman employed as a security guard by NYU and standing outside, taking a cigarette break, agreed that no one wants to be watched and said that she thought the play was "cute."
Totally unannounced, the NY SCP's performance wasn't covered or photographed by any news reporters.
Contact the NY Surveillance Camera Players
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998