The Reads You Need: The raid on Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street protesters fight with police as they attempt to clear out Zucotti Park on Tuesday morning.
November 15th, 2011
12:31 PM ET

The Reads You Need: The raid on Occupy Wall Street

Editor's note: Each day we'll be trying to bring you some of the diverse voices from our site and around the web about the stories causing ripples throughout the news sphere.

You'd be hard pressed to find a subject that elicits more opinions than the Occupy Wall Street movement. We've seen everyone - and their mother - opine on the movement and its members. What should they do? Why isn't there a leader? What is success?

For the most part they've been nebulous conversations about vague ideas.  Commentators have said that the time will come when a decision has to be made about how Occupy should move forward. At its heart it remains a movement of ideas. And those ideas evolve. But as concerns about public health and acts of violence taking place at some of the "home bases" for the Occupy protests mount, more attention has focused on where the movement might go next.

That question has grown more complex since Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced police would oust protesters from camping in New York's Zucotti Park. A similar raid took place in Oakland, California, on Monday when police moved in to the Occupy encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza near City Hall. The situation in New York intensified after Occupy protesters were able to secure a temporary order allowing the group to return to Zuccotti Park - just hours after scores of police in riot gear forced them out.

So here's a look at the 5 reads you need on the Occupy movement right now:

Did Bloomberg do Occupy Wall Street a favor?

Ezra Klein, writing for the Washington Post, asks whether, in the long run, Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have helped moved the Occupy agenda forward as winter approaches.

"Members of Occupy Wall Street are furious. Protests are being planned at various sites throughout the day. But the truth is, Bloomberg might have just done Occupy Wall Street a favor.

Next week, temperatures are projected to dip down to the high 30s. Next month, they’re projected to dip into the mid-20s. The month after that, as anyone who has experienced a New York winter know, they’re going to fall even lower.

The occupation of Zuccotti Park was always going to have a tough time enduring for much longer. As the initial excitement wore off and the cold crept in, only the diehards - and those with no place else to go - were likely to remain. The numbers in Zuccotti Park would thin, and so too would the media coverage. And in the event someone died of hypothermia, or there was some other disaster, that coverage could turn. What once looked like a powerful protest could come to be seen as a dangerous frivolity.

In aggressively clearing them from the park, Bloomberg spared them that fate. Zuccotti Park wasn’t emptied by weather, or the insufficient commitment of protesters. It was cleared by pepper spray and tear gas. It was cleared by police and authority. It was cleared by a billionaire mayor from Wall Street and a request by one of America’s largest commercial real estate developers. It was cleared, in other words, in a way that will temporarily reinvigorate the protesters and give Occupy Wall Street the best possible chance to become whatever it will become next."

Read the full story.

A police raid suffused with symbolism

Glenn Greenwald has been writing about the evictions this morning for Salon.com and took the opportunity to opine on the eviction order's symbolic meaning for the Occupy movement based on Justin Elliott's reporting for Salon about how things went down in Zucotti Park. Elliott described the scene as "a military style raid on peaceful protesters camped out in the shadow of Wall Street, ordered by a cold ruthless billionaire who bought his way into the mayor’s office." Greenwald called it a symbolic moment from perhaps the most perfect person in Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"If you think about it, that short sentence is a perfect description of both the essence of America’s political culture and the fuel that gave rise to the #OWS movement in the first place.

...

A New York state judge this morning temporarilly enjoined the city from keeping the protesters out of Zuccotti Park, but Mayor Bloomberg is simply ignoring the Order and deliberately breaking the law by refusing to allow them back in. Put another way, Bloomberg this morning has broken more laws than the hundreds of protesters who were arrested. But as we know, the law does not apply to the Michael Bloombergs of the nation; the law, instead, has simply been exploited into a weapon used by the politically and financially powerful to prevent challenges to their standing.

Could #OWS have scripted a more apt antagonist than this living, breathing personification of oligarchy: a Wall Street billionaire who so brazenly purchased his political office, engineered the overturning of a term-limits referendum and then spent more than $100 million of his personal fortune to stay in power, and now resides well above the law?"

Read the full story.

Occupy Wall Street's eviction was a lucky break—now what?

Derek Thompson, a senior editor at The Atlantic, writes that if the Occupy movement is to progress, it has to be defined by its core values not its core meeting ground.

"What should be the Eight-Hour Day Movement of the moment? Maybe they should focus on student debt reform. Today, student debt lives with you until you die and cannot be unwound in bankruptcy court; perhaps it should be. Maybe they should focus on the minimum wage, which has declined in real value for the last few decades. Maybe they call for repealing the Bush tax cuts, a savvy request that would represent broad sacrifice (it would raise taxes on almost all households, but mostly at the top) to demonstrate to Americans that the movement is willing to sacrifice for its ultimate goals. There is also welfare reform, unemployment benefit support, and other platforms that would aim to support the least well-off.

To persuasively argue for these things does not require a permanent home base cobbled together from camping tents in a private park. If Occupy Wall Street is ultimately about where protesters can and cannot physically be, then it's already sacrificed macro strategy for logistical tactics.

OWS has its newspeg. It's time to write the larger story. To get moving again, Occupy Wall Street doesn't need to re-pitch its tents. It needs a bigger tent."

Read the full story.

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. bigwilliestyles

    Then comes the dehumanizing/stigmatizing talk/labeling to prepare the protesters for the use of 'light force': "they're just a bunch of dirty, hippy, criminals, losers, lazy, socialist, welfare seeking communists trying to take what we've "earned" without "working" for it"...

    November 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bigwilliestyles

    Then they move in with fake talk about "regulations" "public safety" "unsanitary conditions", "alleged perverted activity", the fire ordinance, the "anonymous" tip. Then the non-threatening forces move in: sanitation workers, dept of health/mental hygiene, fire marshall, recreation and parks, etc. All with the goal of disrupt and disband...

    November 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bigwilliestyles

    After that comes the "restrained police action" a slightly new twist on an old procedure; force with a feigned conscience to pretend that the protesters are being treated like people with rights; nudging rather than pushing, destroying property of the protesters rather than bashing heads, easy on the tear gas...

    November 15, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bigwilliestyles

    Meanwhile, government lawyers are poring through law books, searching for laws to use that will allow protesters to be arrested, their camps destroyed, and their way blocked legally.

    November 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    Thank you bigwillie, nice to see someone speaking up for what is right even if it isnt popular, although i believe its more popular than the naysayers care to believe. Of course those same people will be the lst to step up and take advantage in the end!

    November 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bigwilliestyles

    @ chrissy: we both know that right and popular are usually mutually exclusive. Lol It won't be long before the real force is used. Unfortunately for the other side-"repression exposes". It always has; it always will. That's why the security forces are slow-rolling so far.

    November 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. chrissy

    well eventually you and i both know where this is headed right? When real revolution begins and you know it will, people will be singin a different tune!

    November 15, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LISTEN UP

    UNIVERSE IS STRONGHOLD

    November 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason

    I have learned that Bloomberg, and the Commissioner, sat on the original restraining order against the p i g s, so they could Judge/decision shop. They should have allowed the protesters re-entry.That makes their actions illegal. Great focus should be on holding them accountable. No Obama wimpishness here.
    Also learned that a Minneapolis paper reports that the Obama Administration, assisted in the coordinations with different departments tearing down camps in short order. I will give Obama no more love.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Patrick

    If not in the park then into the streets.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    And eventually to the White House! Its inevitable! Too many people have lost everything theyve worked hard all their lives for. And if we dont speak up its only going to get worse. I believe the occupiers only want change not conflict.

    November 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rhookie

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    November 16, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. michaelfury

    http://michaelfury.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/this-empty-front-seat/

    November 16, 2011 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. the_dude

    Invest in ammo and guns

    November 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
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