Pressure to dissolve the Occupy Wall St has grown in the last few days, and rumors suggest the NYPD may soon enter the square and end the occupation.
Mayor Bloomberg should think twice before expelling demonstrators from Zuccotti Park.
He should consider that Occupy Wall St – a global movement against corporate greed – also voices the concerns of minorities throughout the city, who have been affected by unemployment and cuts to critical public services.
Versions of the Occupy Wall St protest have been replicated in different corners of the city, with Black and Latino politicians openly supporting the demonstration. On Monday, for example, elected officials and community groups will march from Northern Manhattan to Zuccotti Park demanding Governor Andrew Cuomo renew the so-called millionaire’s tax a surcharge on wealthy taxpayers that the Governor has vowed to eliminate.
Compared to other cities, our Occupy Wall St has done remarkably well and has been very pacific.
The demonstrators have beaten the odds, which may be making some uncomfortable. Few expected them to stay for one week, let alone over a month. They were going to scare off our tourists and negatively affect the economy, but they have become a destination. And they were supposed to disappear with the first dip in the thermometer, but in fact survived an early snowstorm.
The ongoing protest apparently resonates with New Yorkers, as reflected in several polls showing wide support.
The demonstration also represents a big test for an extra-term mayor who frequently shows a disconnect with reality.
Repeating Tompkins Square Park in Zuccotti Park will only seal the Mayor’s reputation as an authoritarian and anti-democratic ruler tendencies he already exhibited in his handlings of public schools and his third-term fixation.
Of course Occupy Wall St is no easy venture. An open demonstration, Zuccotti Park has become a suitable place for petty crimes and abusers. But New Yorkers who have visited know that the demonstration is above all pacifistic and impressively well organized.
The Mayor must recognize that Occupy Wall St is not a physical place at this point. It is a movement, and a social reality of our times. He would be better off working with the demonstrators and making New York City a model city for democracy.
Bloomberg should work with the Community Board and demonstrators to create conditions that are favorable for most. He should allow them to install portable toilets, let them use tents during the winter, remove police barricades that are annoying local residents, enforce noise codes, and avoid the unjustifiable use of abusive police force and pepper spray.
If this protest is to end, it should happen organically, just as it started.