Tuesday, November 15, 2011

End of Occupy Wall Street?

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered to clear Zuccotti Park today, consequently leading to the arrest of around 200 protestors who have been camping in the park for nearly two months on the grounds that “health and safety conditions became intolerable.”

Bloomberg has been torn between whether to take any direct measures against the protests ever since the beginning of Occupy Wall Street. In the time that has passed, he has supported people’s right to protest but in recent weeks, in the wake of growing complaints from neighbours about how the protest has disrupted the neighbourhood and hurt local businesses, the mayor decided to act. Mayor’s sudden decision comes as a big surprise to the American public. The clearance of Zuccotti Park demonstrates fading of the American promise and commitment to democracy. It is never a good sign when non-violence is met with violence. If the citizens of the United States are prohibited in voicing their opinion, and thus are being taken away their freedom of speech by their own governors, how does America plan to maintain its exemplary role as global promoter of peace and democracy? After today’s event, can America still be referred to as democratic? Or is the country simply hiding its less open domestic politics behind a created illusion of worldwide promotion of democracy?

Despite the criticism that Bloomberg is currently receiving from the protestors and the supporters of Occupy Wall Street, the mayor is clever in his approach: He announced that “New York City is the city where you can come and express yourself. What was happening in Zuccotti Park was not that.” The mayor said the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.” Furthermore, by laying the blame on poor health and safety conditions the decision to clear Zuccotti Park becomes an undisputed case as it would indeed be improper of the protestors to argue against public health after the numerous health care debates in the U.S. in recent years. Bloomberg is right in that the Park, initially created for everyone, has for the past two moths been an occupied space, with several access limitations for citizens who do not wish to participate in the protests. Especially, taking into account rumours about lack of health measures, it is not surprising that these conditions prevent ‘visitors,’ apart from the protestors themselves, on the territory of Zuccotti Park. Consequently, it can also be argued that the occupied space is a limitation to freedom for everyone.

Whether this marks the end of Wall Street Protests remains unknown. The possibility for continued protests is high, especially in the immediate aftermath of police’s forceful clearance of the Park. The public in support of the protests is in rage over mayor’s decision. However, Wall Street never sleeps, hence even if protestors relocate, Wall Street will continue to keep its eyes on those who oppose it.

- Inga


  1. The protestors would argue that they were providing a public service, adding to all that the park offers. This is actually true as they did provide food, activities and even sleeping accommodations to the wider public. Bloomberg cleared out the park on the pretext of hygiene and reports of illegal drug dealing. However, he did promise and has not yet revoked the promise that all protestors will be aloud back in the park WITHOUT tents and sleeping bags. So, as far as Bloomberg's clever strategy goes awaits to be seen.

    The most interesting aspect of this clear out is the fact that occupy wall street is to celebrate its 2 month anniversary on Thursday and I am certain that this clear out was aimed at deterring their planned carnival on wall street to celebrate anniversary.

    Your right whether or not this strategy calms or exacerbates the situation remains to be seen, but nothing has been resolved or "fixed" from this situation.

    - Roy.

  2. The question that I keep thinking about with regards to the clearing up of the Park, is how undemocratic Bloomberg's procedure was to achieve this.

    The United States has been supportive of the Arab uprisings this year, even leading the military intervention in Libya in order to help the citizens overthrow Qadhafi due to violence from his side on the civilians. Like the Arab protestors, Wall Street occupiers are demanding change. They do not want the removal of the U.S. government, but they do want alterations in American policy- they want to be heard and for the government to take some actions to meet their demands. Surprisingly enough, even Warren Buffett (part of the 1% that Occupy Wall Street are protesting against) has writted several opinion pieces in the New York Times about how he and several other members of the 1% would not mind seeing some changes in domestic taxation policy.

    I do not necessarily support the way protestors have proceeded with the protests, but I am surprised that Bloomberg refuses Americans freedom of speech (as there have not been any signs of violence from the protestors)and sees violence on non-violence as the only way to resolve(?) the upheaval.

    - Inga

  3. Very true, in this case however domestic and international policies are completely different. President Obama has not even officially acknowledged the Occupy movement yet and the process of removing the camps has been a local effort all over this country - with different outcomes in each city.

    But the situation does appear to resemble at least some sort of double standard - US supports protests abroad but is horrified when they take place at home.

    One thing you are right about is that it is never good to meet non-violence with violence no matter what the reason is. The political ramifications of the clear could be as large as any other - maybe.

  4. Roy, I understand your position, nevertheless, we are not talking about the difference between domestic and international policies. This is a case where the citizens' rights to democracy are being oppressed by 'the most democratic' government in the world, whose goal is not only to sustain democracy throughout its own periphery but also to promote it abroad.