IT’S HARDLY A SURPRISE, but the demonstrators have finally been evicted from Zuccotti Park. In the middle of the night on Monday, New York police swept down on the park, tearing down the tents and arresting at least 200 people, according to the New York Times. On Tuesday, demonstrators were permitted access, but only on a limited basis and without tents, sleeping bags and generators, effectively concluding the occupation. More than a month ago, eviction was threatened under the pretense of cleaning the park, after which the protestors were promised that they could return. They stood fast, and after some tense moments, prevailed. But now the park is empty and surrounded by police who are there to preclude any attempts at re-occupation.
The point, of course, is that the protestors were aware upfront that their occupation of the park was illegal, even as they marched in. Further, they were constantly reminded of that every day during the occupation. My impressions, as I said several weeks ago, were that a sense of order was being maintained, along with care and concern for their neighbors. But their presence was not invited and they were not wanted. It was a standoff for two days less than two months. Borrowed time, that sort of thing.
So now what happens? At the very least it is not over, and I’m assuming — the declarations that there were no specific goals notwithstanding — that the organizers have to be happy that their movement has been successful and now has world-wide recognition. “We are the 99 percent” is a slogan that refuses to go away. More than that, the members of “the 1 percent” are now being vilified as privileged and harsh.
Two things: First, there are people who call the financial businesses of Wall Street home and have no love for colleagues who have been instrumental in corrupting the system, to the detriment of others. Difficult as may be to believe, let alone recognize, there are those who actually welcome regulation and guidance; some even joined up with the one-time residents of Zuccotti Park. Second, the occupation was apparently just the start.
Again, I’m reminded of the progress of the anti-war protests of a generation ago. Beginning in 1965, those efforts grew and expanded in subsequent years from campuses to the streets, with violent demonstrations in Chicago during the Democratic convention and the shooting of students at Kent State in 1970. Early on, the movement was seen as a nuisance conducted by discontents, but as the war dragged on, a huge consensus was created and eventually succeeded in both ending the war and driving Richard Nixon from office (with the help of Watergate). So given genuine incentive, these things can — for the lack of a better word — work.
And what’s next? New venues, and if you like, targets. Already, there have been murmurs that the Rose Parade will be a site, to the extent that local police and leaders of the parade have begun discussions and planning on just how that might be affected and what means might be used to ensure as little disruption as possible. Naturally, it’s easy to see why that could happen: an audience in the tens of millions, especially given that what’s going on is essentially theater. Always has been, always will be. And, it’s not a stretch to expect the displaced hundreds from Zuccotti Park to target the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and make an appearance there as well.
We’ll see. Obviously, I remain an advocate, if only that pressure continues for a solution to the corruption that provoked the worst financial crisis in this country’s history since the depression. While the finger-pointing goes on and one bogus remedy after another reaches the trash heap — even while the bailed-out perps have resumed the huge-scale financial gambling that was behind the trouble — it remains crucial that the story be told, and re-told. Scarcely this generation’s nuisance, the people who march are doing the job that’s required, and boy, do I admire them for doing it.