Archive for Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crackdowns reach epicenter of Wall Street protests

November 16, 2011


— Crackdowns against the Occupy Wall Street encampments across the country reached the epicenter of the movement Tuesday, when police rousted protesters from a Manhattan park and a judge ruled that their free speech rights do not extend to pitching a tent and setting up camp for months at a time.

It was a potentially devastating setback. If crowds of demonstrators return to Zuccotti Park, they will not be allowed to bring tents, sleeping bags and other equipment that turned the area into a makeshift city of dissent.

But demonstrators pledged to carry on with their message protesting corporate greed and economic inequality, either in Zuccotti or a yet-to-be chosen new home.

“This is much bigger than a square plaza in downtown Manhattan,” said Hans Shan, an organizer who was working with churches to find places for protesters to sleep. “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.”

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman upheld the city’s eviction of the protesters after an emergency appeal by the National Lawyers Guild.

The protesters have been camped out in the privately owned park since mid-September. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered the sweep because health and safety conditions and become “intolerable” in the crowded plaza. The raid was conducted in the middle of the night “to reduce the risk of confrontation” and “to minimize disruption to the surrounding neighborhood,” he said.

By early Tuesday evening, some protesters were being allowed back into the park two by two. But they could each take only a small bag.

Later Tuesday, the protesters held a general assembly where they discussed topics including where and how to retrieve their belongings that had been swooped up in the raid and options for going forward, including appealing the judge’s decision.

Still, some protesters believed the loss of Zuccotti Park may be an opportunity to broaden and decentralize the protest to give it staying power.

“People are really recognizing that we need to build a movement here,” Shan said. “What we’re dedicated to is not just about occupying space. That’s a tactic.”

But without a place to congregate, protesters will have a harder time communicating with each other en masse. The leaders of the movement spent most of Tuesday gathering in small groups throughout the city — in church basements, in public plazas and on street corners — and relaying plans in scattered text messages and email.

Robert Harrington, owner of a small importing business in New York, stood outside the barricade with a sign calling for tighter banking regulations.

“To be effective it almost has to move out of the park,” Harrington said. “It’s like the antiwar movement in the ’60s, which started as street theater and grew into something else.”

“The issues,” he added, “are larger than just this camp.”

Protesters milling around Zuccotti Park said they were dismayed by the ruling.

Chris Habib, a New York artist, said he hoped the group could settle on a new protest site during a meeting later Tuesday evening. He was confident the movement would continue even if its flagship camp was dismantled.

“A judge can’t erase a movement from the public mind,” he said. “The government is going to have to spend a lot of time in court to defend this.”


Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

Chris & Meghan, cheerleaders for the "dude, I'm angry!" movement.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

"The protesters have been camped out in the privately owned park since mid-September. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he ordered the sweep because health and safety conditions and become “intolerable” in the crowded plaza."

It was the message that was "intolerable," to Bloomberg and his corrupt cronies on Wall Street.

voevoda 6 years, 6 months ago

People have a Constitutional right to assembly and to free speech.
Posters on the political right complain that the OWS movement is composed just of freeloaders and Obama operatives. They're wrong. A lot of people are tired of working hard and earning big bucks for corporations and their executives, while seeing their own wages stagnate, their own benefits eliminated, and their own jobs outsourced abroad. The OWS people, FalseHopeNoChange, are brave. They are doing things for themselves. They are going out there and fighting for the next generation. They have given more to our government than they expect back. Why don't you admire them for it?

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

voe, you skipped a word. "... or the right of the people peaceably to assemble...". Considering the Lord of the Flies type behavior found at the occupations, it appears the peaceably specification wasn't being met. Heck, one of the DC occupy guys was shooting at the White House.

voevoda 6 years, 6 months ago

The vast majority of the OWS protestors have been peaceful, at least until the authorities initiated the use of force against them. In that way, they are very much like the Tea Partiers, who were also mostly--but not exclusively--peaceful.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 6 months ago

Bloomberg Personifies What the Occupation Opposes by Glen Ford


"Bloomberg, the personification of Wall Street, made his vast fortune selling a machine called the Market Master. Having mastered the market, the logic of money was all that was required for Bloomberg to become master of politics in the nation’s most important city. Bloomberg’s career is the story of today's America, a place where people who market machines and schemes so that money can produce more money for themselves and their fellow Lords of Capital, can then purchase governments and write their own laws in order to maintain their power in perpetuity."

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