Occupy Pittsburgh’s claim of victory is unwarranted

Occupy Pittsburgh’s claim of victory is unwarranted. (credit: Juan Fernandez/) Occupy Pittsburgh’s claim of victory is unwarranted. (credit: Juan Fernandez/)

“This afternoon at 5:30 p.m., Occupy Pittsburgh will rally and make statements for the press at People’s Park. Afterward, they will march away from the encampment site.” This quote, taken from an article on Occupy Pittsburgh’s website, represents the belief of the local Occupiers that their movement has ended on a victorious note.

They stayed encamped in BNY Mellon’s park until Wednesday, two days after the third official eviction date.

The court-ordered end of the camps is not a victory to be relished, no matter how many extra days the group was able to stay in the park. If Occupy Pittsburgh members were serious in their fight against the 1 percent, then leaving would not have been an option.

Think back to the infamous protests at University of California, Davis.

Those Occupy protestors fought for their beliefs, no matter the violence and opposition they faced.

In hindsight, the Occupy Pittsburgh group had a media opportunity that was completely wasted. In recent months, the press coverage on the movement has died down. This was Occupy Pittsburgh’s shining chance to draw swarms of media back to the group’s cause and its plight.

Even in the days leading up to the eviction date, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette speculated about the group’s fate.

Simply put, last Wednesday was a let down. For the months of effort and protesting that went into the movement, it seems as though the group just gave up without a fight; it didn’t stick to its guns.

Members of Occupy Pittsburgh rented out luxury hotel rooms to “monitor” last week’s eviction. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, protesters stayed for three nights in the Omni William Penn Hotel, which overlooks the park. Rooms at the hotel cost about $250 per night.

Apparently, the group partially paid for the luxury rooms through donation money that was collected to winterize the tents and buy warm clothing for the protesters who stayed in the park. The rooms were further subsidized through the group’s general fund and private donations.

This kind of hypocrisy, added to the wasted media opportunity and lackluster eviction, makes the Occupy Pittsburgh movement disappointing at best.

Editorial Dissent

Michael Kahn

The editorial board claims that the Occupy Pittsburgh protesters failed to take advantage of a media opportunity when they were evicted from Mellon Green last week. However, the board’s underlying assumption — that protests are only legitimate when their members are arrested or abused — overlooks the achievements of Occupy Pittsburgh and the Occupy movement in general.

In Pittsburgh, Occupy protesters have been camped out since October — 118 days from beginning to end. Although the movement lost steam as time went one, it was a constant presence throughout much of the winter. We should be admiring their dedication, not ridiculing them for leaving when ordered to do so rather than face arrest.

Occupy Pittsburgh did not see the violence between protesters and police that characterized the Occupy Oakland movement or the G-20 here in 2009. If police brutality is what the board considers necessary to make an eviction less “lackluster,” then I gladly accept this so-called disappointment.