As reported in the New York Post, the NYPD has found that in the areas where Occupy Sandy (and other neighborhood non-profits) have been most active there has been less crime.

Occupy Sandy Relief Center

Residents of areas like Brooklyn’s Red Hook, where Occupy Sandy has a strong presence, say they feel safer and have been spared the looting and other crime that exist in neighborhoods where activists are not so plentiful.

Officers of the NYPD are similarly pleased, noting, “We had all these potential people who could call 911, in a heartbeat. All the volunteers were potential witnesses.”

And Occupy activists find themselves in the new circumstance of working side-by-side with uniformed authorities.

Kirby Desmaris, 26, an Occupy Wall Street activist and resident, said Red Hook has felt safer after the storm– and that she’d had the surprising experience of working in the same room with the mayor’s office, the NYPD, and the National Guard.

Something’s going on here. Cops and occupiers singing each other’s praises? Brooklynites suddenly able to walk the streets in relative safety and freedom? Something’s going on here and the word for it is Solidarity.

We see that term – Solidarity – mostly as an abstract thing, nice sounding but kind of vague. That’s because we don’t have many real examples of it. It’s rare in this looking-out-for-number-one, winner-take-all culture to find groups of people who have each other’s backs acting in unison.

But we find it in Red Hook. And when we do, along with distributions of food and warm clothes, along with home reconstruction and mold remediation, we see criminals skulking away. What’s remarkable is that nobody is intentionally going after the crime. It’s just a by-product of the Occupy Sandy storm relief.

Well, maybe not so remarkable. What chases the looters off is their unwillingness to face the very real power of people who are willing to act in each other’s interests, the power of citizens that have linked arms to fix things no one person can fix alone. The power, in short, of solidarity.

The big-time looters in the bank buildings across the East River should take note.

Photo by Occupy 617 released under a Creative Commons license.