Departmental Papers (Sociology)

Document Type


Date of this Version


Publication Source

Public Books


"This is the Beginning of the Beginning" flashed in white light on Manhattan's Verizon Building. The message seemed to jump out of nowhere and Occupy Wall Street marchers crossing the Brooklyn Bridge broke into ecstatic chants. This was the Illuminator's debut, just two days after New York police had brutally evicted Occupiers from Zuccotti Park. Hours later, we would find out that the Illuminator, a.k.a. Mark Read, was projecting from the apartment of Denise Vega, a public-housing resident sympathetic to Occupy. The target was no accident: Verizon was attacking its union, seeking to slash workers' pay while accumulating record profits. Over a year later, the Illuminator is still active. And a portion of New York's Occupy movement revived itself as Occupy Sandy after last fall's hurricane. In the process, some of Occupy's insurgent edge has dulled, while the larger Arab Spring and the Indignados movements that preceded and inspired it have lost momentum and influence. At least for now.


At the time of publication, author Daniel Aldana Cohen was affiliated with New York University. Currently he is a faculty member in the Sociology Department at the University of Pennsylvania.



Date Posted: 05 July 2017