Eviction is not end

Ordering the NYPD to clear out Zuccotti Park in the dead of the night, when no legal observers or media could witness police procedures, made Mayor Bloomberg look more like a provocateur than a leader seeking to promote public safety.

By conducting the evacuation in such a clandestine manner, the NYPD instead ran the risk of endangering public safety. Perhaps City Hall hasn’t realized, but Occupy Wall Street has gained supporters in communities around the city – particularly in Latino and African American neighborhoods.

Evicting the heart of the protest, arresting hundreds –several journalists included – is a questionable move that raises civil rights concerns.

In a press conference yesterday justifying his decision, the Mayor –clearly citing critics of Occupy Wall St.- said that the “First Amendment is not an absolute.”

We completely disagree. When it comes to speaking up against government policy and denouncing the growing inequalities which have come to define American society, the 1st Amendment is absolute.

As challenging as our ‘occupier’ guests may be, they have the right to assemble and express their concerns and discontent.

The Mayor, however, promised he would allow protesters to go back to the park and stay 24 hours, 7 days a week, so long as they do not camp or lay down. That is tough to pull off and suggests that police presence will increase so as to monitor protesters. We expect the Mayor and the NYPD to respect demonstrators and avoid use of excessive force and unnecessary arrests. We also expect demonstrators to accept the court rule, avoid camping out at the park, and find ways to continue their protest peacefully.

As we stated on this page on November 4th, if Occupy Wall St is to end, it should happen organically, just as it started. Given today’s response to the eviction and plans for a major 2nd month anniversary march tomorrow, the movement has clearly yet to arrive at its end point.