Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NYC gives Occupy a better ending

Breaking news: N.Y. state Supreme Court judge Michael D. Stallman ruled against Occupy Wall Street protesters this afternoon, upholding New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on overnight camping in Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy movement.

"The court is mindful of movants' First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and peaceable assembly," Stallman wrote in his ruling, the New York Times reports. But he added: "Even protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times."


In banning protesters from camping overnight at New York City's Zuccotti Park, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the Occupy movement a better ending than the one it was likely headed toward.

Until today, there seemed to be two competing conclusions to Occupy. First, winter in Manhattan and other cities across the country would bring a cold decline to the movement by shrinking the number of protesters while Occupy's message continued to suffer from atrophy. Protesters had never taken the step of transforming complaints to coherent proposals, and even before today, the message was getting stale without a next step to take it somewhere.

Or, the movement would continue to lose its message to internal and external disturbances - specifically, the violence and drug use from protesters and hangers-on that already plagued Occupy in some cities, most notably Oakland.

Instead, the narrative changes, at least temporarily, to this: A billionaire mayor has waved his hand and scattered the 99 percent from his park. It's an affirmation of sorts for Occupy, and as long as protesters don't blow it by turning to violent protest in the coming hours and days, it's an apt message to go out on.

And that's likely what will happen to Occupy, which doesn't have the cohesiveness to work within the political structure in a way that creates agenda and power, a la the tea party. Expect instead that protests will continue - overnight only in lenient cities, and perhaps in bigger rallies at important moments like the Democratic National Convention.

It won't be enough to survive, however, because overnight camping was critical to the movement. It gave Occupy an identity that attracted participants and prompted initial and continued media coverage. Take that away, and the larger movement goes with it.

That's not a bad thing, necessarily, because Occupy already has had its success. The disparity between affluent and poor has become part of the national political discussion, and polls show Americans largely agree with the roots of the Occupy message, even if they've grown weary of the Occupiers. That message will play a role in the 2012 election.

And now, with Bloomberg's ban, the movement has an ending that affirms why it began - a final win, possibly, even as it loses.

Peter St. Onge


Anonymous said...

Aww - Pete doesn't like anything that doesn't agree w/him, so he deletes. What a shock.

The Observer Editorial Board said...


I don't delete critical comments. Please repost.


Laser Guided Loogie said...

The reason why the "occupy" movement doesn't have or need a coherent message is that they essentially part of the establishment.

They want big government solutions for everything.

They never addressed the real issues, rather they just wandered around and whined. They are essentially an army of the establishment.

JohnnyO said...

I think Peter Onge assertion that Occupy WS being shut down was the best thing for the movement to be right on point. As an old adage goes, "knowing when to leave a party is an art." The movement needed to be told to move on.

Shelly said...

the movement has nothing to do with the discussion about the gap between rich and poor...that has been going on forever...what it does say is that people want the government and those who have money to take care of them...they expect robin hood to do his job and spread the wealth...that's not how it works here

Anonymous said...


This - no - this can't be? Newspapers are organized to support OWS? Why - I can't believe it!