Saturday, October 15, 2011


On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Occupy Wall Street protesters would have to vacate Zuccotti Park, their place of occupation, so the park could be cleaned. After that, they would not be permitted to re-enter the park with sleeping bags, tents or other necessary occupation supplies.

The Occupiers refused to move, delaying their eviction. They suspected a trap: after all, having watched Boston police swarm protesters in riot gear and drive them out with all the subtlety of Hungary in '56, the smart play for Bloomberg and the NYPD would be to lure the protesters out, then keep them locked out. A decidedly non-aggressive tactic such as that would provide few stirring images of victimization. Then, in the streets, protesters on the move could be arrested, as they have been for weeks.

However, one particular group of campers is more than welcome on the streets of New York. My friend Robert even worked up a handy graphic to explain it:

People who want to get into the validity of the comparison are welcome to do so in the comments section. Clearly, iPhone fans aren't in a park, but not being in a park has presented the surest way for protesters to be arrested, on the subjective pretext of disturbance. And while sidewalks are public places and Zuccotti park is privately owned, the stated purpose of building it according to its owners, Brookfield Properties, was to provide the public with a public area in which to gather. Occupy Wall Streeters have only put it to optimal use.

Of course, the most obvious distinction here is that one form of gathering provides public shame for billion-dollar corporations, while another shows slavish, pointless, self-sacrificing devotion to a billion-dollar corporation. If Mayor Bloomberg had some sort of ties to billion-dollar corporations and the interests of their owners, there might be a link here.


  1. As far as I'm aware, neither Bloomberg nor the police have ever said, at any time, that the OWS protesters aren't allowed to be in Zuccotti park.

    When the city (very stupidly) announced the plan to clean the park of camping gear in addition to garbage and grime (at the behest of the property owners), they specifically said that the protesters would be allowed back in.

    And the plan was scrapped just as soon as the city could explain to the property owners exactly what sort of shitstorm was likely to erupt.

    The comparison is valid. The excited vapouring over the impending forcible and final removal of the protesters, though-- no, not so much.

  2. Actually, Ray Kelly was on record as saying that no tarps, sleeping bags, tents or similar equipment would be allowed in the park after the cleaning. The protesters felt that would sap the protest of its energy and well, occupiedness.

  3. Nice to see a convergence of the "it's a trap/it's a tarp" meme.

  4. I think I'd be just about as embarrassed hanging out to buy an ipod as I would with a bunch of people mimicking real protest and calmly proposing bankrupt keynesianism in the face of, like, the end of the world.

  5. calmly proposing bankrupt keynesianism

    Why yes, now that you mention it I do seem to recall John Maynard Keynes posing with a stack of banking regulations and chainsaw as he proudly boasted of slashing gubmint "red tape" and interference in teh "free market". No wait, was incompetent Republican 1%ers, my bad.


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