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On Tuesday of this week, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, along with the help of several hundred police officers cleared Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan of the ~200 Occupy Wall Street protesters who had been staying overnight at the park for nearly 2 months now. To view complete details on this story, click here to visit the New York Times article that provided coverage.
Random fact: I learned about 2 weeks ago that the New York City Police Department has about 30,000 police officers. That’s almost the size of a large, multi-national corporation itself! Crazy! Much bigger than I would have expected!
These ~200 Occupy Wall Street protesters had essentially made Zuccotti Park their primary home for nearly 60 days, and along with removing these overnight protesters from the park, their sleeping bags, food, tents, and possessions were also ousted as well.
Reasons for the Eviction
One reason behind the removal of the overnight protesters was that the park had essentially been taken over by the protesters and was not accessible or usable for anyone else. There were also health, hygiene, and safety concerns that contributed to the decision for the “eviction.” Even though the overnight protesters were removed, I was glad to find out that people with Occupy Wall Street signs can still come and exercise their right to free speech and express their opinions – they just cannot stay there in an overnight fashion.
Effects on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
Without a doubt, this removal of the overnight protesters at the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street concept both has and will continue to deal a severe blow to 1) the psychology of the individual protesters across the nation and 2) how the overnight protesters are viewed from a legal perspective. I can imagine that if the Occupy camps in other cities have become too densely inhabited, the local governments can use the New York City expulsion as precedent. Indeed, several of the Occupy Wall Street movement camps in Oakland, CA were emptied earlier this week as well.
Could the Eviction Have Been Avoided?
As I was thinking about the eviction and the corresponding legal basis for it, I began to wonder if the protesters could have actually avoided it by being a little more disciplined in setting up their camps as far as what is allowable by law and is within health codes.
For example, if they had put a limit on how densely occupied the areas could be and made sure that the place did not appear “trashy,” the eviction might not have occurred! However, that sort of thing would be VERY hard to control, and I guess we will really never know…
My First-Hand Account of Occupy Wall Street
Several weeks ago, I traveled to New York City with my girlfriend to watch her compete in the ING New York City marathon. It was a pretty awesome and memorable trip, and one of the things we got to do was visit the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park that was mentioned above. When we visited, I believe they were on their 45th day of occupying the park.
Below are some pictures of my experience visiting Occupy Wall Street: I hope you enjoy! After looking through the pictures, I’d love to hear your opinion on the eviction of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Be sure to share your take on the matter by commenting below!
The first thing we saw on the way to Zuccotti Park (literally only a block away) was the construction of the new Freedom Tower around the site of the World Trade Center buildings. Below is a picture of the beautiful building. It’s pretty amazing to think that humans can build things so tall!
Below is a picture of some of the protesters along with their camping equipment.
Walking along the perimeter of the Park, there were a lot of people with signs yelling at the passer’s-by. The one guy with the hat in the picture below (directly below the “one-way” sign) was yelling to every man that passed, “HEY, DON’T BE THAT GUY!”
The picture below REALLY (to me) shows just how densely packed the tents were of the protesters. Looking at an image like this, I can understand why the city could have seen this as “taking over the park and violating health/safety codes.”
Shown below is a picture of all of the police monitoring matters. There’s quite a few of them!
I learned that recently before we arrived to NYC, the company that owns Zuccotti Park had banned the protesters from using generators. Therefore, bikes were being ridden to capture mechanical energy to power their devices. Shown below is a picture of one of these bikes being ridden to generate electricity.
The picture below shows what appeared to be the central food bank of the protester camp. I’d be curious to know if the supplies are funded by a particular organization or if they are 100% donations. The two guys in the picture below were being interviewed by a news camera when I walked by. I think they are pretty well-known, as I heard one of them mention this is something like his 20th protest.
We mustered up enough courage to walk through the center (and only) passage-way through the protesters. I was surprised at how crowded this passage-way was and also by the number of protesters begging for money in the form of “donations” along the way vs. actually voicing their opinions about the wealth distribution in the country. Because of this, I became slightly concerned that many people had started using the Occupy Wall Street camp more as a place to stay for homeless people instead of a place to practice freedom of speech.
How about you all? Do you feel Michael Bloomberg/the government acted appropriately in displacing the overnight Occupy Wall Street protesters? Was it a violation of the protesters’ rights, or was it a warranted action?
Share your experiences by commenting below!