Forum

Zuccotti Park eviction won’t stop Occupy movement

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s response to the Occupy Wall Street movement, an eviction of protesters from Zuccotti Park described as a “forced cleansing” by the Daily News, was enacted this past Tuesday. The park was cleared in the early morning hours and around 200 people were arrested.

Protesters and reporters described excessive force being used by riot police to clear the area, while tents, personal items, and other property were disposed of by the police. The protesters had no chance to save this property, most notably Occupy Wall Street’s library of approximately 5,000 donated books and texts.

If New York’s mayor thinks this will end the movement, he is sorely mistaken. Forcing the protesters out of Zuccotti Park, a 24-hour public park, only served to paint the New York City Police Department and Bloomberg as villains and to reinforce the image of Occupy protesters as underdogs. Now these protesters have yet another example that they can refer to when citing the injustices they have endured.

Incidents of excessive force by police against Occupy protesters increase sympathy for the movement and give the demonstrations an increased vitality. Occupy Oakland, known as one of the most violent Occupy movements, gained attention when Marine Corps veteran and protester Scott Olsen was hospitalized with a skull fracture caused by a police gas canister. Police in Seattle were criticized after it was reported that an 84-year-old woman and a pregnant woman were pepper sprayed while protesting. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Hass was hit by police batons multiple times while peacefully protesting at Occupy Berkeley. Passive and seated students at UC Davis were pepper sprayed by police during an Occupy demonstration. All of these incidents not only reflect poorly on the various police forces involved, but also bring more sympathy towards Occupy movements.

We feel that the momentum Occupy Wall Street has gained will not be quelled by attempts like Bloomberg’s eviction. The movement has become a nationwide phenomenon that is, in many respects, independent of the rally that began it all. Occupy Oakland, Occupy Seattle, Occupy Berkeley, and Occupy UC Davis are prime examples of protests that have sprung from the original Occupy Wall Street movement and have strengthened the overall cause. Although measures like park evictions might see a hundred or so protesters arrested, police brutality against Occupy protesters has incited a level of support that cannot be suppressed.