The resent events of Occupy Wall Street have attracted both positive and negative attention. The protest which started two months ago has now spread throughout the world, most notably in cities of the United States like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, and some four other major cities. This spread in my opinion can result in two things. One the movement will continue to grow by way of popularity and will become a great success. Two this continued growth means a larger amount of minds coming together and although this can seem great, occasionally this will lead in some protesters continuing to practice a safe nonviolence protest peacefully while others will turn to a more aggressive approach similar to Dr. King and Malcolm X. That said in regards to present day these protest have shown form of promise as a great positive, but the costs of the protest are beginning to be evident and the safety of the public is nearing boarder line dangerous.
In the article “Occupy Protests Across the Country Take Toll on City Budgets” written by Susanna Kim for ABC News on November 18, 2011, Kim discusses the general cost the protest has generated on major city budgets across the United States. The title “…..take toll on city budgets” is pretty accurate as the Occupy Wall Street protest do cost money, not like most believe it doesn’t. The major cost consumer that comes out of tax payers’ pockets is the paying of police overtime to oversee the protesters. According to Howard Wolfson, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy for government relations, the city has spent a wapping $6 million on the protest, to which Kim adds “not including the eviction on Tuesday”, which I will discuss later. In other cities such as Boston the protest has added some$ 575,000 to the budget cost and in the west coast cities like Denver, Seattle, and Oakland have added 365k, 626k, and $1 million respectably. As an example as to how much police oversee of the protest plays a role in these figures take the great city of Seattle for instants. Of its approximate $626,000 the police are paid overtime which comes to some $580,468 and all this in a 41 day span. Kim doesn’t really present an argument on her part beyond the title and the opening paragraph. In other words she appears neutral, but she does provide sourced numbers revealed by departments in their respected cities, and these numbers are quite large sums.
Earlier I had mentioned the eviction of this pass Tuesday, in which at approximately 1AM officers of the NYPD entered Zuccotti Park and cleared the space of protesters, tents, and all equipment that inhabited the space, followed by the disinfection of the park by the department of sanitation.That evening Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference with other public officials to address the events of the morning. He discussed how Brookfield Properties, the owners of the park, had requested that the city enforce the no sleeping and formation of tents in the park. Furthermore Bloomberg explained that the time of the removal was essential due in part to the safety of regular commuters and to reduce confrontation. He also stressed he would reopen the park and the protester my return, but without their tents, which makes the Daily News’s Wednesday, November 16 headline “AND STAYOUT” inaccurate. Bloomberg went on to reiterate the goals the city had set from the beginning of the protest of #1 public health and safety, and #2 provide the protesters the ability to exercise their first amendment rights. He then explain the ultimate reasons of the eviction when he stated “its next to imposable to navigate through the park…..we could not wait for someone in the park to get killed or to injure another first responder before acting.” The mayor explained the conditions at the park had become hazards for the public, first responders, and the protesters. He further emphasized what he has been saying from the beginning that he will provided the protesters the ability to protest, but not to a point when it interferes with the rest of the public’s wellbeing as he put it “…..but it does not give anyone the right to sleep in a park were otherwise take it over to the exclusion of others.” What I found most important is that Mayor Bloomberg also stressed that he is the one who finally decided to act when he said “Make no mistake the final decision to act was mine and mine alone.” In my opinion this statement demonstrates the mayor’s ability to be able to take the blame if any were to hit surface.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Tbua_1oitRo -Mayor Bloomberg on OWS clean up
In my previous blog post “Inside the huddle of Occupy Wall Street” published on November 18, 2011 in Open Lab’s ENG1101Fire, Disease, Disaster: Catastrophe and the Shaping of Urban Public Space, I had quoted the famous Mahatma Gandhi when he said “…..be the change you wish to see in the world.” I also stated “like all change at first, difficult” in other words I am a true believer that every attempt in change things will always appear difficult, naturally that should be the case and would be strange if it wasn’t. The truth of the matter is even before the protest reached week 4 I understood that great difficulties await everyone in direct involvement. The cost to oversee the protests around the United States is one of those difficulties. If I were to ask you what movement has resulted in a cost free protest there wouldn’t be one you’d name. This said I dislike the fact that tax payer’s money is being spent on this, but I understand. After Tuesday’s eviction I hope this cost no longer increase at the rate that it has. In addition I agree with the mayor’s decision to evict protesters. Zoccotti Park was meant for the public and the formation of tents and the conditions created by the protesters made the space unsafe for those who wish to enter. I recall when I visited two Fridays ago and was reluctant to touch the tents or any of the equipment for that matter due to the rumor of flu in the area, plus in regards to safety, what would have been the plan if a fire broke out in such a clusters space. I honestly believe there are protesters who fight for the movement in which they are a part of, but I also believe some of the occupiers were there just because they had nowhere else to go. This thought came to me even before I interviewed a young man from Maine who responded when asked why you protest “I don’t know. For the moment I have no place to live, really. So I figured I might as well join the club.” This was a great disappointment to me. In my opinion the protesters need to look at this past week as a challenge of finding a safer form of protesting, this way the city may stop delaying and placing a negative image on the movement. For it is one thing to fight for what you want and becoming the change that is wished to be seen, but it is another when the fight of the protest is organized and the safety of all effected isn’t.