Early Tuesday morning, the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park was cleared of protesters and cleaned by a sanitation crew. About 200 protesters were evicted, and 142 were arrested in the park for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The movement was two days short of its two-month anniversary.
Mayor Bloomberg justified the move by pointing out that the park, which is meant to be a public space, was unclean and inaccessible to anyone but the protesters. The roughly 200 people who had been sleeping in the park overnight are no longer allowed to do so, but the movement was permitted to reorganize at the park once cleaning was finished.
On Thursday, Occupy Wall Street's actual two-month anniversary, protestors expanded from the park, preventing area workers from getting to their jobs with the intention of "disrupting the status quo" and increasing awareness of the 99% on a more personal level. Police blocked them from accessing Wall Street itself, but protestors swarmed the nearby area. The now somewhat decentralized movement encouraged like-minded people to occupy select subway stations in each of the five boroughs and ride the trains to convene in Foley Square near City Hall.
But what about Zuccotti Park? Occupy Wall Street has become a nationwide movement and "the 99%" part of our vocabulary, which leads us to the following question:
Does It Matter Whether the Protesters Occupy the Park?
Here's how the arguments go:
Yes, Occupy Wall Street Still Needs the Park
- The ousting of a largely peaceful, historic protest is a symbolic defeat, as though The Man is triumphing over the 99%. Can the movement persist after such a disheartening development?
- Being detached from their headquarters would make it more difficult for the movement to get the press coverage they've had over the past two months. Where would the reporters go? And where else would they have headline-making confrontations with police?
- The movement has not yet had any legislative or regulatory victories. In fact, except for Occupy Wall Street's drumbeats, it's pretty much business as usual on Wall Street. However, as long as the protesters were in the park, making their noise, they couldn't be ignored.
No, Occupy Wall Street Doesn't Need the Park
- If Zuccotti Park isn't the home base of the movement, the protest is free to move at will—perhaps up to midtown Manhattan, where most of the banks they protest operate.
- Occupy Wall Street has already made its impression. On October 15th, more than 950 cities globally held their own Occupy protests, and the movement has come to represent an American attitudinal shift.
- Many people are more supportive of the protesters' message than their behavior, especially since the camp has been plagued by rumors of sexual assault and crime. Perhaps taking the focus off the protesters themselves would better serve the movement.
For More About Occupy Wall Street:
Learn what's really going on at Occupy Wall Street: read this.
Find out more about one woman's decision to join the Occupy Wall Street protest.
The protests of "Generation Jobless" are only the beginning. What's next?
Image Credit: flickr.com/Long Island Rose